Emily Gertz has an intriguing post in her blog on the limits of online anonymity. She questions the right of those in public office to claim anonymity over the internet and their right to put forth the violation-of-privacy argument if they are tracked down and outed. In her own words “Just as the internet can help create more transparency in government, it provides officials opportunities to spout off as they wish while ducking responsibility.”
I go that the right to online privacy (not data security) is over hyped. Those who clamor for it are the ones that can’t handle transparency. They use fake user id or go under pseudonyms. It’s like asking for privacy while wanting to be in the cloud. Internet is a cloud. If you take flight, you would be in the radar screens. All that you can do to protect your privacy is to keep mum or stay locked in. Cyberspace is hardly the turf to tread on and then claim privacy. It’s free for all out there. You will be tracked down easily if you do something that’s hackworthy. Hackers have your prick in their pocket and you are too blind to see it.
You invariably leave a trail and there’s nowhere to hide except by getting lost in that crowd. That multitude, in itself is your guard – you will not be noticed unless you stand out. Spin that theory and you get – only the exceptional get noticed online. I could use a familiar nude beach metaphor here. We don’t look at anything that moves in a nude beach, do we? Our eyes feast on truly gorgeous, sculpted bods. They die to get noticed there. They punish themselves all year round to look great in that beachwear on the day. If you don’t want to get noticed, you’ve no business to be there.
Learn to handle online publicity. Tweak it to your advantage. Speak your mind and craft your unique online persona that you can never do offline because you get only a few fleeting moments of attention. Offline distractions are far too many (you could get nervy) and you are not sure of leaving great impressions. Get a good online headstart and follow it up by offline touch and feel. That’s how you get larger than life. The only risk here is, you are exposing to get kicked in the butt by some smartass. Have enough humor to absorb it and gain wits enough to riposte. That way you build a circle, if not relationships, with people you like. Be smart and use them to your advantage.
Much as many hate it for its laissez-faire, I love the Net exactly for that. I figured it out early on and said to myself – if it leaves a trail for others to find me, why not use it ingeniously for saying “I am in this business. I’d love your custom” on the sly? I think that’s cool.
My normal tactic is to break in with some riveting comments that make people that matter take notice. It makes a statement of what I am and what I do, for a living. My aim – to get me some interesting enquiries that could later turn into deals. My greatest win has been Trevor, my brilliant channel partner from NYC, that no recruitment ad would’ve ever gotten me. He told me he never looked up job ads – he tracked all my four blogs, some comments in other blogs and sketched my persona. Eventually he felt I’d just be the right one to work with. He says he isn’t worse off for that and my deal book has several credits to his name!
When you go asking for orders, you get squeezed. The clients that come calling after experiencing me online, pinch less on the price I quote. They either give me their business or they don’t. Since my comments have always been sharp and direct (I don’t bother to euphemize for fear of diluting my intent that weakens the punch – and now it has become my signature and style!) it leaves them with little doubt what they are letting themselves in for. It obviates a lot of pre-deal feel-ups. Who will give so much PR mileage across the world and FREE?
In summation, my business would’ve remained a non-starter but for the pubilicity I got over the Net. The other alternative was to carry on in a 9-5 cube farm and slog for some dumbass. I did that for a couple decades and Enough !
Right to online privacy, still anyone? I say, “No, thanks.”