Have you ever been in your car when a song you like comes on and you are struck by the uncontrollable urge to dance like nobody is watching?

On the flipside, have you ever been so angry in traffic that you yell and scream obscenities, even with the windows down?

Be honest now, have you ever flipped another driver off as you sped away?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, would you have acted the same way (under similar circumstances) if you weren’t in a car?

There’s a phenomenon where people have an illusion of privacy in their cars, despite the fact that they are still very much in public. It is interesting that a similar effect has been happening on social media, pretty much since its inception.

The Illusion of Privacy

The literal purpose of social media is to share information with people. It’s for that reason that the fact that people feel such an unwarranted level of personal privacy on these platforms astounds me.

Sure, to an extent you can control who sees what information. But, when you put the information out there, it’s out there.

I can give you an example. Last week a group of young adults went viral with a video of a Chipotle manager refusing to fix their food until they paid or showed they had money to pay. The reason the manager gave is that these particular customers were known to take food without paying for it. Seeing as this is not the policy at Chipotle this video sparked outrage from those who assumed the discrepancy was based on stereotypes and the race of the customers. So much so, that the manager was fired.

A few days later, as has become the custom as of late, people started going through the accuser’s social media profiles.

Guess what they found…

Not only tweets celebrating previous dine and dash excursions, but a warning to friends that Chipotle specifically was starting to catch on to their habits. He actually tattled on himself.

Let’s just say the manager may be getting her job back.

You Never Know Who is Watching

In a far more gruesome example, a bunch of teens not only snitched on themselves using social media, but they also streamed it on Facebook Live for the world to see. They actively made damning evidence against themselves committing violent and heinous acts against a developmentally challenged person.

On the one hand, it’s great that they made it so easy for the authorities to catch them for their truly despicable act. On the other hand, it shows a glaring ignorance when it comes to the repercussions of being so open on a social platform.

This is only one of the many crimes that people have either committed or bragged about on various social media platforms. They more often than not lead to arrests.

The Take-Away

The internet is “forever.” This is an especially important lesson for kids who have never known anything different. You may think something is funny or cool now, but that thing could come back to haunt you years and years down the line.

Adults should learn this lesson too. Even private conversations can be posted in public places and used against you. Be as careful with what you text and post as you would be with what you say in public. In fact, be even more careful than that, because now everything is on the record.