Social media openly invites users to share their lives—the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly—with the world. However, while the sharing of information has characterized the digital age and brought myriad benefits, there could be a valid rationale behind keeping certain things to ourselves.
Here are six things that many people might agree should always be kept to ourselves.
1. Your Personal Life
The practical reason: Not only is keeping your private life to yourself a powerful way to take a stand against gossip-mongering, but it could also limit the opportunity for others to use aspects of your personal life against you. In this day and age, potential employers will Google you!
The psychological reason: You will have the freedom to fully enact the different facets of your identity (at work, at home, socially), rather than feeling inhibited by other people’s expectations of you based upon shared personal information.
As per Psychology Today, exercising restraint when it comes to personal life can help a person retain a sense of control over their lives, as long as secrecy doesn’t become pathological; sometimes, we all need to share in order to ease the burdens of everyday life.
2. Your Biggest Dream
The practical reason: Psychiatrist Peter Shallard believes that publicly announcing your dreams and goals can make you less likely to achieve them because it robs you of some of the motivation. Shallard notes, “Telling someone about your ‘big idea’ is almost as emotionally rewarding as achieving it.”
The psychological reason: The judgment and expectations of other people, in addition, may take a person’s sense of ownership over their dreams away from them.
3. Your Financial Status
The practical reason: Not only is discussing your income a breach of social etiquette in many societies, but it could also make you vulnerable to judgment, or even a target for financial scamming. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study, 64 percent of Americans have had their personal information exposed by a data breach of some kind; caution pays dividends.
Reputation Defender advises internet users to keep Personally Identifiable Information (PII), such as family names, bank details, passwords, identification numbers, and addresses, as private as possible.
The psychological reason: It is ultimately more psychologically satisfying to be liked and respected for who you are than what you have in your bank account.
4. Your Material Assets
The practical reason: According to Safe Wise, seasoned thieves are likely to be on the lookout for visible displays of wealth when targeting a home. Keeping expensive items such as cars, electronics, jewelry, and cash as far out of sight as possible will make you and your family less vulnerable to being targeted on the basis of your material wealth.
The psychological reason: Much like in the case of financial status, it is better to be appreciated for who you are than what you do, or don’t, possess.
5. Family Troubles
The practical reason: It may be prudent to keep family matters within the household to prevent the individual being judged by virtue of the family’s words or actions. Employers, in particular, can Google an individual before hiring them, and whether rightly or wrongly, messy family affairs could color a prospective employer’s opinion.
The psychological reason: Dr. Elliot D. Cohen, writing for Psychology Today, maintains that we are all “multifaceted human being[s] with thoughts, feelings, and desires that cannot be subsumed under a job description or a social role.” As such, it is imperative to preserve the freedom to be ourselves separately from our identification with our families.
6. The Extent of Your Kindness
The practical reason: When the action is the focus, as opposed to the person behind the act—particularly in the case of charitable donations—the giver is less likely to be taken advantage of.
The psychological reason: Author Henriette Lazaridis, writing for HuffPost, suggests that for an act, or a person, to be considered inherently kind, their actions “have to be performed without any awareness of their audience.” True, inherent kindness may be a rare quality in a person, but arguably that makes it all the more valuable.
How many of these privacy-preserving tips do you practice in your life?