When all reasonable expectation is removed from a prospect, behaving as if the expectation still existed is madness.
There’s a fundamental difference between privacy and lack of disclosure I think people need to get their heads around. Privacy intimates that the things you don’t want found, don’t get found. Or, if someone intentionally finds them out, that you have some form of recourse appropriate to their improper disclosure. Perfect example of this: Tiger Woods. It’s unfortunate that he felt he could send text messages to his mistresses over the years, because he was placing proof of his actions in their hands, and in the hands of his cellular service providers. That’s not breach of privacy, that’s disclosure. On the flip side, go ahead and try to figure out whether I like jam or peanut butter on my toast. If I don’t tell you, you won’t; that’s not privacy, that’s lack of disclosure.
If we neglect to send drunken college photos of ourselves to Facebook, are we protecting our privacy? Yes. But what about uploading the photos and then jacking up the privacy so high that your friends can barely find the pictures? Are you protecting your privacy then?
No. You’re being an idiot.
Not following me? Let me paint this another way. Let’s say you’re a big fan of downloading content. You BitTorrent every new movie as it comes out, every album, everything. You get so prolific with this, so involved in the community that you sign up for accounts with Demonoid and everyone else you can think of and go from being a participant to being a provider. You’re smart – you colocate on a server slice using proxies, never use your own name in context with your filesharing. But still, you do this, and you get sued into oblivion by the RIAA or somesuch. Did anonymity help you protect your privacy? Not a chance. Anonymity is useless online. Your actions as a net become visible by their nature as protected. It’s like a permanent Streisand Effect; you’re asking for exposure. Are you protecting your privacy by being anonymous? Maybe for a while, but the tools available mean this tactic is only as effective as your actions are ignorable. As soon as you breach the invisible line of big-fish-ness, you’re screwed.
And if you’re on the exposing side? Are you doing the courageous thing by outing those who have been stupid enough to lay themselves partially bare out of ignorance? Well, not likely. If it’s your job, there’s no courage involved here. If not, you’re just a bully. Granted, some people deserve it (read as, people who don’t even try to click the privacy boxes). But don’t confuse cutting insight with courage. Sharing your opinion is so possible it’s nearly mandatory at this point, so get the legs out from under your high horse and make sure what you’re doing is of real utility to people before you worry about how brave you are.
So why network at all, you ask? Because you get to meet new people. You expand your influence and business potential. You make more money, know more about everything, and expose yourself to varied input, thus becoming a bigger person than you could otherwise. We’re not yet in a space where shyness is punished, but it’s coming, trust me.
At the end of the day, you can’t rely on privacy policies, because those can chance without notice. You also can’t rely on your cloak and dagger anonymity, because tools exist that demolish this with rigid celerity. Instead, if you don’t want it repeated, don’t say it in the first place.