Life Advice



Science Advice Goddess: Disappear Pressure

Amy Alkon on

"Online privacy" is a quaint fiction. The reality: Any info about you, from your sexts to your Social Security number, is probably stealable by any basement nosepicker with an IQ over 125.

That said, it's understandable you'd try to retain whatever shreds of yours you can -- like by engaging in the "impression management" sociologist Erving Goffman observed we all do face to face: tailoring the "self" we present and revealing more or fewer "regions" of ourselves, depending on the particular audience.

There's probably no person these days who can't be "canceled" -- out of a job, any ability to keep earning a living, and/or their social world -- by some photo, video, or quote from them that's cast in a bad light by an internet mob.

Take the San Diego Gas & Electric worker photographed driving with his hand hanging out of his truck window in what was claimed on social media to be a "white supremacy" hand signal. (The OK sign is said to make the initials W.P. for "White Power.") The man -- who is Mexican American! -- insisted he was doing nothing of the sort, but the utility fired him anyway. "To lose your dream job for playing with your fingers, that's a hard pill to swallow," he told NBC 7 San Diego.

Your boyfriend might never agree with your approach to online privacy. However, he might understand it -- and gain a deeper understanding into who you are -- if you evoke his empathy. Instead of simply telling him you "don't like" to appear in social media posts, go into detail about your fears and discomfort at allowing an unselect audience a window into your life.


It's awful enough when we violate our own privacy -- like by accidentally sexting Grandma and then rushing over in hopes of deleting it before she remembers where she left her phone. There's really no hope of privacy crime scene cleanup when your audience is "everyone on the planet but three Namibian guys whose goats keep chewing through their cable."


Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email ( Follow her on Twitter @amyalkon. Order her latest "science-help" book, "Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence."




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