Imagine a situation in which all the things that you do every day and everywhere (except inside the bathroom) are seen by the public through social media. This would make your life an open book. Would that be good to you or to society?
Such situation is fast becoming a reality, if not already with us. This is the central message of the movie, entitled “The Circle,” which we watched recently.
In his review of the movie, writer Brandon Doyen postulated that if Google and Facebook were to be made into one entity, the resulting social media tech company would be so profitable and popular that the near future would look very different.
“The Circle” envisions that such company would get so profitable and popular that it could obliterate the boundaries of privacy, communication and personal freedom.
Rising actress Emma Watson stars as Mae Holland “who is hired by The Circle, which is the largest tech company conceivable — think Apple on steroids.”
Movie reviewer Doyen wrote, “It (the company) is so large, and in charge is its CEO, played by the always reliable Tom Hanks who encourages Mae to participate in a groundbreaking experiment in which her every move is viewed by millions across the globe. She starts to attract quite the dedicated fan base of followers who are enamored by this new, raw form of reality television interaction.
“But it doesn’t stop there. The Circle combines all of your personal information in one database. There’s no separate account, it’s all streamlined. It can monitor your health and whereabouts at any given moment. And while that sounds appealing at first to Mae, she soon realizes that having zero privacy is not entirely ideal.”
The public is able to see her every activity with the use of a small camera attached to a bracelet she wears every day. Small cameras are also installed almost everywhere.
Mae realizes that even her kayaking hobby which she does every now and then is monitored by cameras in objects floating in the sea. The monitoring turns out good when she is tossed by giant waves in the sea. Immediately, first responders aboard a helicopter go to her rescue.
Another upside of constant monitoring is that it promotes almost 100 percent transparency in public service. A congresswoman is the first to announce that through the “Circle” monitoring network, she is allowing the public to have total access to her emails and other official activities. This is lauded by her constituents.
But one downside is the total loss of privacy. Mae learns about this disadvantage in a painful way. With the Circle network, even the daily activities of her parents are monitored. They, too, wear bracelets with small cameras. At one time, Mae is terribly embarrassed when her aging parents are seen by millions having sex in their bedroom.
In Facebook at present, we are beginning to see the disadvantages of social media. This is caused by people who seem to consider Facebook as their personal diary. They post on their page even routine, daily activities such as feeding their dog.
There are also messages which are controversial and incendiary. As a consequence, feuds often erupt between people with conflicting opinions on issues, particularly political matters. And almost every day, we read messages that tarnish the reputation of government officials, such as President Trump and President Duterte.
This is one reason we try to avoid visiting our Facebook page.
We admit, though, that social media has real benefits. With social media, personal or even official communications are now done instantaneously.
This kind of quick communication was unheard of when I was in grade school. I recall that my aunties (most of them now deceased) would ask me to write letters to our relatives in Manila or Mindanao. With the Philippine mail moving as slow as a snail at that time, it would take months for the letters to reach the recipients and more months to receive their reply-letters.
Today, we can chat with our friends on Facebook in real time. We can also look for our classmates through Facebook. And we can even sell products through Facebook.
Yes, there are many advantages of social media. But we should always be careful and prudent in using it. We should also remember that zero privacy would make us feel as if we are standing totally naked at the public plaza the whole day.