Lately I've been thinking quite a lot about transparency in the online world. Transparency is, after all, one of the basic tenets of social media. You must be transparent to remain credible when it comes to social media. That's been taught to all of us as we've jumped into the social media world. When social media first started on the scene, the ideal of transparency really ignited me. I thought the world would be changed over night. Power to the people, and all that. Organizations would now have to be transparent to their customers, and to the world. However, here we are five years later and we all have learned a lot. I'm not quite as optimistic on that ideal anymore. I do think the bar on transparency has been raised over the past few years, as there are many stories of companies being held to task by interested parties. And the amount and speed with which we all have access to information is still staggering to me. However, I also think that there is still a long way to go on full transparency.
Transparency and privacy are two principles that tend to go hand in hand in the online space. There is a thin line between the two. Is transparency equivalent to full disclosure? Is someone not being transparent when they desire to protect their own privacy? In order to be transparent, do you give up your right to privacy? These are some of the questions I've been struggling with recently. Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, is currently struggling with this very thing as well. Here is a man who through his very successful blog
has pushed for transparency in a very public forum. He is a master at developing an online persona that is professional, transparent, and personal. I, and countless others, have always held him in high regard for this. Yet, he is now facing a private matter which is questioning his very effectiveness on his fight for transparency. Is it fair that the question of his lack of discretion may be the one thing that ends his push for more transparent healthcare? I don't know. What I do know is now I'm reticent to use the one blog that I held up as a shining example of a transparent hospital CEO, because I know there will be at least one audience member that will attack it. For all of us that are out there pushing for social media, for transparency, there are plenty of critics that are just looking for reasons and examples to cite that will slow the tide of change.
I don't know in Mr. Levy's case where the blame, if there is even any, will land. I'm not sure where his fight will end, but his is just one example of the delicate balance we all lead being humans with a desire for privacy in a very transparent online world. Our civilization is smack dab in the middle of probably the biggest sociological shift in decades, if not centuries. The rules are not defined. It's all still rather messy. It's something I personally struggle with in my own online brand and persona, and I know many of you do as well. I'm curious, what are your thoughts?