Privacy, today...

(Tim) My friend, Michael Foster, writes:

I was reading an interesting article that talked about why no one cares about privacy anymore and stumbled on this:

The truth about privacy is counter-intuitive: less of it can lead to a more virtuous society. Markets function more efficiently when it's cheap to identify and deliver the right product to the right person at the right time. Behavioral targeting allows you to see relevant, interesting Web ads instead of irrelevant, annoying ones. The ability to identify customers unlikely to pay their bills lets stores offer better deals to those people who will.

Anyone who's spent a moment reading comments on blogs or news articles knows that encouraging participants to keep their identities private generates vitriol or worse. Thoughtful discussions tend to arise when identities are public. Without that, as Adam Smith wrote about an anonymous man in a large city in The Wealth of Nations, he is likely to "abandon himself to every low profligacy and vice."

Then...

there was this:

Perhaps the real issue is not technology but psychology. Irwin Altman, a professor emeritus in the University of Utah's psychology department, created one of the more widely cited theories of privacy before Facebook's founder was born. "If one can choose how much or how little to divulge about oneself to another voluntarily, privacy is maintained," Altman wrote, effectively blessing the social media of a generation later. "If another person can influence how much information we divulge about ourselves or how much information input we let in about others, a lower level of privacy exists."

I find this all so interesting because 1) this shift will seemingly lead to an increase in church discipline; and 2) there is a paradoxical desire for anonymity and openness in my generation that seems more pronounced than in the past.

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Comments

Anonymity really is a bad practice by a regular commenter.

You had me at "Anonymity really is a bad practice"

Fair enough...

I hate to admit I've been trudging through the sewers again -- but I find it interesting that on Egalitarian websites there is more frequent use of pseudonyms, etc. and much more concern about "safety" and "privacy" and protecting libel, among other unsavory writings.

Kamilla

"The ability to identify customers unlikely to pay their bills lets stores offer better deals to those people who will."

About ten years ago IBM did a series of commercials. In one they played the song from The King and I "Getting to know you, getting to know all about you" and it showed a focus group being observed - they all talk about how the junk mail and calls they get have nothing to do with them.

One guy jumps up and says, "You don't know me - you don't know anything about me!"

We don't even care that we're giving away everything in the name of convenience.

It's easy to become paranoid but if men are to protect their families we're going need to limit what we let our family do on the net.

"It's easy to become paranoid but if men are to protect their families we're going need to limit what we let our family do on the net."

Yep. This is also why I'm uneasy about using gmail and other google products.

In my small business, I have learned that information is power, and I don't have the power when I give up the information easily. This has to do with a business, but I am sure that there is an application to persons.

...this shift will seemingly lead to an increase in church discipline...

I don't understand this statement.

"...this shift will seemingly lead to an increase in church discipline..."

People have the mistaken notion that the internet isn't part of the real world. This has two immediate consequences. First, individuals have a tendency to divulge information in a way they never would in face to face communications. Second, they think the church cannot or will not hold them accountable for ungodly tweets, status updates, blog posts, and other electronic communications. This, of course, is false and is why we should see a rise in discipline cases among faithful churches. The internet isn't a discipline free-zone.

Michael, can you give some examples of the type of postings which would require discipline?

I believe TE Brian Carpenter is being investigated by his presbytery for providing links to Sean Gerety's blog...

Denver,

I think Michael is getting at this but when I read the post I was thinking of cases where a post on facebook could reveal an affair etc. There could be many other situations like immoral business practices etc.

For example, I noticed that a young girl I know had friended a grown man. I asked the girl's father about it and if the man friended was in my church I would have asked him questions.

After all, most companies are doing credit checks and checking Google and Facebook before hiring people.

Church leaders would be sinful not to at least consider such information should they come upon it. I would even go so far as to say it would be ideal for them to check Google and Facebook for their members periodically.

My pastor and his wife got Facebook accounts several months ago. Several church members were already on it. Now when there's an announcement, people can send things out via regular email or through FB.

Denver,

Clint’s examples are good. Here are a few more:

-A married man flirting with another woman via “wall posts”

-A disgruntle member slandering church leaders/members through notes on facebook, blogpost, tweets, etc

-A youth posting compromising and immodest pictures on facebook/myspace

All these are grounds for some form of discipline. However, it isn’t just the “big sins” that matter. The church should always be disciplining its members. For example, I got pretty whiny about living in Bloomington and posted several post lamenting being here instead of Cincinnati. Some one told me that I was complaining too much. So, I repented and, following the wisdom of Bob Newhart, stopped doing it. That little rebuke kept me from becoming bitter and potentially prevented a more severe church discipline case.

“I would even go so far as to say it would be ideal for them to check Google and Facebook for their members periodically.”

Clint, this is just unrealistic. I’ve got three twitters, one Facebook, one MySpace, contribute to multiple blogs, have a Google Wave, a Google Buzz, two different gamer tags, and a partridge in a pear tree. I’m just one dude. Imagine keeping track of the 300 some people in CGS. The burden would have to be on the members of the church to correct each until it becomes an issue that requires the intervention of an elder.

>>The burden would have to be on the members of the church to correct each [other] until it becomes an issue that requires the intervention of an elder.

Which is how discipline always, when practiced faithfully and lovingly, works.

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