This is the end, my friend [Privacy and Social Media]

A new first for and possibly the net, a birth was streamed live to the world today from West Pennsylvania. At the time of writing I can’t find a recording of the birth, with only a video of the child post delivery available, but from all accounts the whole thing was shown.

This is the end. To quote Jim Morrison:

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
Ill never look into your eyes…again

We have reached the point where nothing left is sacred, where our most intimate moments are now fair game for the world at large. It is the beginning of an age so well described in Ben Elton’s challenging novel Blind Faith (a recommended read for anyone interested in this area):

Imagine a world where everyone knows everything about everybody. Where what a person “feels” and “truly believes” is protected under the law, while what is rational, even provable is condemned as heresy. A world where to question ignorance and intolerance is to commit a Crime against Faith.

Imagine it. Or just wait until After The Flood.

On a hot Sagittarian morning in the year 56 ATF, Trafford Sewell struggles to work through the usual crowds of near-naked commuters. He is confronted by the intimidating figure of his Parish Confessor. Why has Trafford not been streaming his every moment of sexual intimacy onto the community website like everybody else? Does he think he’s different or special in some way? Better than his fellow man and woman? Does he have something to hide?

Ben Elton imagines a post-apocalyptic society where religious intolerance combines with a confessional sex-obsessed, self-centric culture to create a world where nakedness is modesty, ignorance is wisdom and privacy is a dangerous perversion. A chilling vision of what’s to come? Or something rather closer to what we call reality?

We have reached the point of no return. From Twittering a birth to streaming it live, the floodgates are open. Where there is a willing audience, there will be those willing to expose themselves to the world at large, and as our lust for knowing and seeing all continues, so to will the frequency of everything exposed online.

The remaining question for those in social media is whether we embrace the change and ride the wave, or we rally against it. Where today is the line between privacy and sharing? Does sharing some things open the door to sharing all, or is there still a place for what perhaps can be described as antique ideas of private moments.

What ever the answers, remember September 2, 2008 as the day that the last remaining barrier came down between personal and public. The tipping point where a sea of copycats and unrestricted life streaming that will now surely follow.