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Creepy vs. Rude: Let’s Change Our Language of Data Tracking

which door would you choose? Creepy or Rude?

Creep Monster or Rude Dude? Let’s choose wisely.

Suppose you’re given a choice between two doors. Behind each door is a customer-service worker you must speak with for a long time. One door is labeled “Creepy, Scary Person” and the other one is labeled “Invasive, Rude Person.” Which door would you choose?


Myself, I’d pick the latter. I’m guessing an invasive and rude person would be easier to deal with than a creepy and scary one. I’m pretty sure most people would make the same decision.


This is why we need to change our language when we speak about websites’ privacy-crushing data gathering of our personal behaviors. Oftentimes, the media and individuals will be shocked and “creeped out” by new features like Facebook’s Graph search. Words like “creepy” and “scary” are used to describe the shaken sense of security we feel when we realize just how much these sites know about us.


We need to get over this. Data tracking is here. It’s rampant. It isn’t any more creepy or scary than junk mail or an infestation of ants: annoyances that must be dealt with if we want to protect our family’s mental and physical well-being.


The longer we use words like “creepy,” the longer it will take for users to have control over their own data. The very language we use to describe the issue repels us from dealing with it. Everyday people are turned away from thinking and helping to solve the problem because of the misguided feelings the words evoke. In life, we tend to set aside “scary” things. We procrastinate unpleasant tasks. It’s natural.


“Rude” we face head-on. “Invasive” we fortify against. We feel armed and ready to mitigate any rude or invasive affronts on our peace of mind, because we’ve dealt with rude and invasive people and situations our entire lives.


Let’s all do our part to protect our individual freedoms. Let’s stop using words that make businesses’ hoarding and locking up of our behavioral data seem like anything more than an illegal and invasive affront on our wallets, our minds, and our lives.


Photo credit: Kevin McShane on Flickr.com