Private life can be viewed as the course of individual’s life particularly in the context of personal choices that contribute to personal identity. However, it has become an aspect that is difficult to define because it includes a variety of overlapping and correlated issues. In the present world, there is no such a thing as a private life because there is no private life which has not been determined by a wider public life. To demonstrate that we no longer have private life and that we should not expect a right to private life, four topics that include our normal social expectations, the law, commercial environment, and internet architecture will be evaluated.
Our normal social expectations
Every individual belongs to a certain society whose order is based on social expectations called norms that include values, beliefs and rules. Norms are applied in the society as standards that measure correctness of behaviors, beliefs, feelings, and perceptions within society where norms are upheld. When it comes to conforming to these norms, private life no longer exists. Take clothing for instance. One may think of himself being extremely individualistic, and may choose a variety of clothing styles that exist. In every society there are styles or dressing codes that are considered wrong. An individual within that society may take on such styles on the ground of ‘right’ to private life. Consider a person wearing the outfits of the opposite sex. According to social expectations, such an action is wrong and probably would be perceived as an indication of mental disorder. Consider also a society where everyone acts, wears or speaks without putting into account society expectations like traditions, norms or without respecting others’ expectations. Individuals would be living in a society that is full of invariable horrible unpredictableness characterized by unusual individuals who do not know what to expect. This would elevate irritation, making the society unpleasant place to live. Our normal social expectations make us take civic responsibilities and transform us into functioning members of the society. They define proscribed and prescribed behaviors that an individual should watch. Prescribed behaviors are the obligations or ‘musts’ that make one a member of the society while proscribed behaviors are taboos or ‘must not’s(Boeree, 1999). Social expectations make inferences in any act of personal perception. Therefore, they tend to institutionalize, exile, excommunicate, imprison, or kill individuals, thus eliminating private life.
Under the law everyone owns the right to respect for their private life and correspondence as the law provides for the right to privacy; the right to personal independence that is violated when actions that essentially concern the person are interfered with, penalized or prohibited. This right incorporates right to protection of personal intimacy, name, gender, identity, dignity, feelings, and honor among others. European Commission on Human Rights holds that the right to honor ‘private life’ is right to privacy and the right for an individual to live as their wishes and protected against publicity. However, the margin of appreciation of this right shows clearly that there is nothing like private life. The law holds that there should be no any interference to this right whatsoever except in the personal actions or behaviors that violate law and interests of social democracy in terms of national security, country’s economic well-being and public safety in order to avert crime and disorder, and to protect health, morals, rights, and freedom of others. The law also fails to provide an exhaustive definition of private life by further indicating that it would seem too restrictive if the private life is limited to the idea of ‘inner circle’ in which a person lives personal life excluding outside world. It therefore notes that private life must encompass to a specific level, the right to initiate and develop relationships with other people (Council of Europe, 2001). This attests that there is no such a thing as a private life because there is no private life which has not been determined by a wider public life. If it was a complete right to private life, there would be neither provision for development of relationships with others because this is similar to publication, nor a margin for appreciation.
Environment is a collection of all social and physical conditions that influence people or community. The environment within which commercial activities and transactions occur is referred to as commercial environment. People trade labor in exchange of wages. The exchange involves flows of information, capital, commodities, and other finished products. Commercial environment dictates the economic systems that operate within countries. Since each country has its own commercial environment with its own elements, the environment has been broadly categorized into capitalist and socialist commercial environments. In capitalist commercial environment, decisions regarding production, distribution and consumption are made in respect to demand and supply forces. Therefore, there is no much governmental interference. However, these forces that govern this environment eliminate ‘private life’ because for them to govern the environment, several individuals must collaborate and take part. If really ‘private life’ was there, then an individual can solely determine those forces. In socialist commercial environment, almost all the crucial decisions are made by the government. This governmental interference completely dilutes the meaning of ‘private life’ because in a private life an individual should make his/her own decisions without any interference (Pushparaj, 2011). Further, there is no commercial environment without interactions and relationships that are governed by collaboration, communication and compliance regulations. These regulations eliminate the aspect of ‘private life’ requiring behaviors and activities of individuals to be controlled.
The architecture on which internet is built allows sensitive data such as credit label numbers, mail addresses, bank details, along with internal and extended records to be stored for a long duration of time and become vulnerable to enthusiastic eyes of independent authorities. In fact, internet has facilitated huge explosion of information availing huge information at the fingertips of people.
Many people are now getting more concerned on how personal data is handled. It is not a surprise that many people have realized that information they considered private has been exposed to general public via the internet. This has occurred particularly in the social media and other web-based activities. When one surfs the web, information on what one is doing is recorded and perhaps other crucial data from that person is collected. Many sites require one to register to obtain their services. They ask for real name, email addresses, telephone numbers and so forth. This information is very important to personal privacy but is infringed voluntarily.
According to Dou (2011), private life in terms of privacy is a past tense as far as internet is concerned. Many companies and individuals collect a lot of data from people without their consent. They launch cookies that collect and keep track of essential information. Further, when an individual sends an-mail, it is conveyed via various sites and accessed by many system administrators. If for example a frequent internet user enters the first and second name in a switchboard and requests his information, he will be surprised finding his phone number, date of birth, country and other crucial information. This shows there is nothing like private life.
Identity and relationships
The advent of computers has brought new ways through which we carry out our social and public lives. Our personal relationships are no longer different. They have offered online media that affect ways that users negotiate boundaries between real-life and computer-mediated relationships. To evaluate identity and relationships, virtual group and team management via internet, identity in online community, relationship between computer-mediated communication and social presence, and socializing via internet will be discussed.
Virtual group and team management via internet
Computers have facilitated fast development of communication technologies that enable long distance communications. It has enabled people all over the globe to easily work together. People nowadays plug and play, share work and knowledge and collaborate and compete easily than ever before. These communication technologies allow teams to experience great advantage by allowing workers to work locally from their homes or work together in team across the globe. The nature of work has transformed from production oriented to service oriented in the absence of limitations within physical work locations (Garton & Wellman, 1997). Firms now coordinate activities across different time zones, cultures, organizational contexts, and physical boundaries. Virtual global teams are separated by time and space and by cultural, national and linguistic attributes. With the help of the computer-mediated relationships, agile virtual groups are formed easily, thus helping organizations to reduce response time to the current hyper-competitive markets. The typical method of developing relationships with group members is spending time together face-to-face. This can be very challenging for members who reside in different continents. With computer-mediated communications, such relationships have been made possible allowing firms to build and confirm team work on regular basis. Further, the firms have developed a culture of trust amongst virtually existing members. Certainly, when trust is created, group behavior becomes positive, thus increasing members’ evaluation and performance.
Identity in online community
It is evident that majority of individuals above sixteen years of age in developed and developing countries spend almost a third of their free time online, belong to a minimum of one social networking sites and they regularly interact with over fifteen people who they have met virtually via the internet. Facebook for instant has over 175 international subscribers. The ability to establish connections and relationships with strangers who one meets after joining a particular social networking site increases individual’s identity in online community. Networking facilitates initiation and development of relationships particularly amongst strangers. This ability of individuals meeting strangers and also articulating and making their social relationships further increases identity in online communities. Relationships and identity that would not be made are made easily and effectively. The time spent online constantly increases because majority of individuals are not looking to interact with new people, but they are essentially communicating with individuals who form their extended social relationship and identity. However, due to privacy threats imposed by the internet, a lot of people decline to provide their real identity, thus facilitating false identity and relationships. They reasonably argue that they fear some degree of openness and therefore end up providing false details. This sophisticated impression of false identities makes management of relationships and creation of intimate interactions difficult (Harrison & Thomas, 2009). Despite this hindrance computers have facilitated development of numerous relationships and increased identity amongst different communities. Individuals now learn and gain invaluable information on how different people carry out themselves as a result of online identity and relationships.
Relationship between computer-mediated communication and social presence
The dominion of computer-mediated communication has thrived to a human communication technology that facilitates interactions between individuals. It is worthy noting at this point that internet is the fastest growing technology that brings about new communication. Computer-mediated communications are the communications that occur via the internet. It defers from other communication types as it has better feedback capabilities and speed. This modern communication technology has a direct relationship with social presence. Social presence in this context refers to the degree in which individuals perceive other individuals as real people and any interaction between them as real relationship.
For instance, people who are watching televisions experience social presence of presenters greatly than those listening due to its visual and auditory capabilities. Computer-mediated communications has transformed virtual environment to more physical environment. They enable people to feel other people’s social presence by making them feel as if they are connected to a virtual location while being located in secondary site physically.
According to Wrech & Narissra (2007), computer-mediated communication incorporates the social presence realism by increasing continuity and connectedness among individuals and actual environment. Certainly, the closer an individual feels within virtual environment to real environment, the more present that individual feels while in virtual environment. Computer-mediated communications have facilitated this by increasing the social presence among individuals. As a result, more relationships and interactions as well as identities are formed across the globe. Researches show that when individuals experience high presence in virtual environment, they perform tasks better and have greater spatial capability, thus establishing and maintaining social relationships easily.
Socializing via internet
Internet offers a convenient channel through which social contacts amongst individuals are increased. Online interactions that have been enabled by digital connection provide a situation where users use their time online performing real life socializing. It is evident that social media enables individuals to transverse both online and offline relationships. Many studies indicate that internet influences how social relationships are presented. According to Park (2010), internet has facilitated establishment and maintenance of new relationships as well as strengthening the existing ones.
Internet communication has become a norm as people discover multiple channels that keep them in touch. Researches arguably hold that internet is playing a crucial role in social relationships by creating new ties. Firstly, users have established new social ties via online virtual communities, thus producing and consuming a sense of interactivity, belongingness and sharedness. Consequently, people are gaining access to diverse information. Further, communication with strangers elevates that entire communication that leads to wider network. Secondly, it plays a major role of maintaining the existing social relationships by enabling communication across diverse time and distance so that individuals can connect and communicate with distant family members, co-workers, friends, and business partners. It further facilitates a close emotional interaction amongst friends and family members who have not met for a long period of time. This eliminates loneliness and depression as social involvement and emotional fitness are promoted. However, it is believed that continuous use contributes to decreased social relationship because it facilitates reduced face-to-face interactions and social activities.
The New World of e-Everything
Computers currently mediate many transactional interactions and this is evident in the ways they use eGovernment that entail eVoting, G2G, G2C, eCommerce that entails eBusiness, eTrading, eBanking, and eProcurement, and eLearning that entail eAssessment, computer-based training among others. To understand the concept, key drivers of eEverything interactions, benefits of e-everything, factors for their success or failure, and steps for adopting e-Everything successfully are looked into.
Key drivers for these e-Everything interactions
Even after internet revolution, ‘e-Everything’ remains a new emerging and persistently changing phenomenon as advances in information technology and business management occurs. One may wonder what are the key drivers for these e-Everything. Among the key drivers include technological factors, political factors, social factors and economic factors (Sxccal.edu, 2010). Technological factors involve the level and rate of advancements in telecommunication infrastructure that offer access to new technologies. There have been rapid advancements in telecommunication infrastructure and architecture, increased industrial players and rivalry, changing pricing, increased internet service providers with a variety of services, and increased speed and bandwidth resulting to e-Everything. Political factors are the other key drivers that entail increased governmental programs and incentives that support adoption of new technology, formulation of legislation that govern transactions with electronic data, and public policies that embrace electronic processes and transactions. Social factors are the third drivers that entail increased workforce skills, increased online users, high level of PC penetration, increased IT skills and computer literacy, and the growing technophilia which is the willingness as well as ability to embrace new technology. The last driver is economic factors such as quest for higher average income and economic growth, reduced costs of telecommunication access and technology, advancement in commercial infrastructure, and increased innovations in business models.
Benefits of e-Everything
e-Everything brings about a number of benefits. These benefits include improved accessibility and convenience since most transactions and processes are now carried out anytime and everywhere easily. Secondly, they have brought global choice. Individuals are no longer limited to geographical boundaries, thus they experience broader selection of products and services. Thirdly, they have facilitated online delivery providing instant access of service when need arises. Fourth, individuals are now able to perform online tests and trials, thus reducing uncertainty. Fifth, time is greatly saved as transactions and processes have been made faster and automatic. In addition, people now enjoy competitive prices as more and more products and services hit the market with reduced prices. Further, personalized offerings have been offered allowing individuals to benefit from personalized interactions and virtual relationships with dealers. Lastly, the degree of comparison has been extended allowing individuals to compare a wide range of products and services and also providing people with updated information regarding availability of services or products (Anckar, 2002).
Factors for e-Everything success or failure
For e-Everything to be successful they must provide value to customers by offering transaction services and processes that attract people. They should also provide expected service and performance such as user-friendly experience. They should also offer attractive websites and incentives that will encourage more people to use the service. In addition, they must provide personal attention to substitute face-to-face-interaction offered by traditional methods. Moreover, they should be reliable and secure with fail-safe technologies and hardware that facilitate this necessity. Equally so, they should provide a sense of community to people and possess individual’s entire experience.
Failure factors of e-Everything include irregular updating, thus offering outdated information to people, difficulties to find what people are looking for due to complexity, poor and awful product/service-pictures as well as blurry amateur, poorly designed sites, and insecure as well as unreliable systems. In addition, they can also fail due to limited information on their usage and failure to disclose the owners and fast help (Shariff, 2011).
Steps for adopting e-Everything successfully
In order to adopt any of the constituents of e-Everything successfully, the following simple steps must be followed. The first step is initial assessment of ‘e-Everything’ adoption. Here key processes and strategies that will be implemented upon adoption should be identified as well as gathering adequate information to determine the influence it will have on users.
The second step is defining the website development. In this step, the functionalities of the website and the extent in which it will serve are identified. This can be done through implementing static pages that identify the company implementing the system, services to be offered and a page to direct users. As expansion of system occurs, the website will be added additional pages to support extra enhancements required. These enhancement requirements may include additional ordering forms and payment functionalities among others.
The next step is determining and designing the contents of the website in order to establish the appropriate document that will fit certain requirements. If the system is meant to serve local people, then local languages and graphics can be used to draw more attention.
The other step is search for external support. This will ensure that there is continuous development of the ‘e-Everything’. They will offer comprehensive support and assistance, guiding the project from initial step to the last step of adoption. This external support is essential to ensure in-house expertise. They also assist in identifying crucial issues before implementation.
Finally, the government should be involved to ensure that the information offered is relevant. Further, it will ensure that patent rights are protected because such a system requires protection against piracy (Kartiwi, 2006).