January 12, 2014

Now that you’re public: what’s your filter?

If you have any sort of online social profile, be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or the like, you have successfully entered into leading a “public life”. Sounds scary doesn’t it. Goodbye privacy, it was nice knowing ya. Whatever you tweet could (heaven forbid) appear on the Daily Mail front page with one click of the mouse.

Without really realising it, we have completely signed away our privacy — especially with Twitter, there’s no way of going back once you’ve hit publish. There are even tools now that can get deleted tweets back. That’s what teachers will begin to teach in the classroom: “kids, just remember, there’s always an archive.”

And this is only going to get worse. And we are only going to get more casual towards this idea of signing our lives away to the Internet. It’s gone from sharing the odd photo here and there to having to update the public world on every move we make, every step we take, they’ll be watching you — whether or not anyone actually cares. (It’s funny isn’t it, that we think people ACTUALLY care what we have for breakfast, lunch and dinner — or what silly thing we overheard on the bus). But it’s still addictive to share, this is why human beings are becoming more intelligent as the web evolves; the more knowledge 

we share, the more we retain. (Or so we think).

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David Armano, a very clever chap and ex-colleague wrote a piece for Medium called “Your Life is Public and You Need a Filter”. He recalls tales of people asking him about moments in his life that he would himself forget about, showing how closely his life is followed online even if people weren’t directly engaging with it. I bet you’ve experienced something like this at some point, where you come in to work and start to tell people about your weekend and they answer “yeah, we know” – as you’ve probably already posted about it online and they’ve got through all the photos that show your weekend minute by minute, day by day. What a sad thought, to be so public that you are boring to everyone when engaging in face-to-face communication.

Another interesting point Armano touches on is the fact that living your life in public can be slightly risky if you have no filter. Like a new brand entering the marketplace, you’d have to be quite careful, you’d have to establish a tone of voice, or a set of guidelines if you will — basically you could f*ck it up quite easily. It’s the same with people now, who have their own persona online. If you tweet the wrong thing, or say something out of order, your relationships or job could be in jeopardy. He explains what a filter is:

Your filter is the voice inside your head and heart that says “if you post this than that could happen—do you want that and are you willing to take the risk”? A filter is the thing that stops every single random thought that pops into your head from being spoken or written.

My question, to follow on from this, is who, or what is your filter and how do you find one? How do you know what to filter out and what not to? 

For example, I write lots of blog posts, but only some get posted. Some are in my drafts folder, or they are locked with a password. Some things do NOT need to be posted, or it might be that it’s just not the right time, and at some point, when things aren’t so raw, they can go online. 

My filter is a mixture of my own common sense, but it’s also words and advice from my best mate. Sometimes I’ll discuss an idea, a thought, or a post, or let her read it and she’ll give me the nod or the shake of the head. You need someone else who is close to you that can act as your filter, too.

Your filter should also be the feedback you get. It should also be what you feel comfortable with. I think at the moment people are obsessed with posting just to get a response, aka, the “selfie” phenomenon. People know this isn’t quality content, they know it’s dull, they know it’s not unique, it’s just someone’s plain old face. Soon I think people will learn to filter: the good, the bad and the ugly. At the moment it’s just posting for posting’s sake and I am definitely still guilty of this.

So what’s your filter and how will you find it? 

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