When someone utters the words “everybody knows anyway” before spilling confidential information about some un-suspecting soul, they are telling you they have a poor level of respect for an individual’s privacy. It is also an indicator to beware of the things you share with such a person. Humans by nature love to share information. Mark Zuckerberg was a genius to identify our nature to connect with each other. Facebook has almost a billion members sharing information. In other words, gossiping and sharing is not a Belizean or “kruffy” thing. It is a human thing. Some say it is human’s narcissistic craving for constant attention. I honestly believe that Facebook makes people feel like they are part of a bigger picture, their opinions count and they have an audience like never before seen in the history of mankind.
Facebook is a great networking tool. A great place to exchange ideas, friendships and life experiences, but it also reflects a dark side of humanity. People are sharing misleading, blatantly false or even confidential information. We forget our responsibilities as people and spread dangerous gossip and disperse information without verification of the facts or thought of consequences. Just a decade ago, people had to meet face to face or call each other on the phone to share gossip, now a person boasting thousands of friends can destroy or slander an individual’s name and reputation as quick as it takes to update a Facebook status. I noticed even credible media personalities are on Facebook, engaging and encouraging this level of unfiltered gossiping in their forums.
There are certain professions that dictate the utmost confidentiality. Attorneys, accountants, anyone in the medical profession, counselors, bankers, civil servants, priests and pastors all require a high level of integrity and adherence to confidentiality. When people seek out advice or services of the aforementioned professionals, they expect that their information ought to be held in the strictest of confidence. I believe these professionals also have a legal obligation to respect people’s privacy. With that said, I am amazed at some of the information people are promulgating on Facebook; information that could only come out of the mouths of some of these very professionals. Belize needs a Facebook policy for professionals. We need to start establishing ethical guidance and rules for our society. We cannot allow destructive behaviors to be excused as part of our culture.
An attorney friend told me he made a comment once in a forum and was advised by the administrator that postings in forums are being monitored by certain elements in Belize and they are taking account of what is being said. She advised him that his post could be construed as libel (poor girl did not know she was talking to an attorney). However, that information resonated with me, since I posted in these forums before and received no such warning. It is a warning that people should definitely think about though. Be careful of the things that could land you in a court of law. You can be held accountable for defaming a person’s character. Now if we could only get people in court to share what they see, hear and know our crime rate would probably drop precipitously.