Loss of Privacy Has 'Four Psychological Effects'

posted by Newsradio 740 KTRH -

As critics accuse Facebook of being reckless with its users' personal data -- which Facebook denies -- personal privacy is an issue that many people are concerned about.

When their conversations and emails are no longer secure, it can have some profound psychological effects, according to Austin-based clinical forensic psychologist Dr. John Huber.

He outlines four of them, and shares commentary on each:

--Increased Stress and Anxiety. "Have you ever sent an email to someone when you weren't in a total zen-like state? The loss of privacy can substantially elevate a person's stress and anxiety levels as they feverishly go through hundreds of e-mails to see if what they said was insensitive, offensive, sexist or even racist. The fear that these correspondences could one day be made public could also cause some individuals to shudder with fear."

--Conformity. "A loss of privacy can cause some individuals to become overly fearful of offending others. This fear can put pressure on the individual to conform to the group culture, thoughts, and beliefs rather than develop their own thoughts and beliefs."

--Effect on Personal Relationships. "When people know they are being watched or monitored they may not share their true feelings with each other and hence, the dynamics of inter-personal relationships can change. One example is that a person may chose not to pay a compliment to another for fear that the compliment will be taken out of context. Also, when people know they don't have privacy they tend to distrust each other and trust is a fundamental component of any healthy relationship."

--Diminished Fun & Laughter. "Some of us have friends who send jokey e-mails that we probably enjoy but, some would find them inappropriate. Some of us enjoy telling or hearing jokes that others would not find funny. The loss of privacy can have a chilling effect on fun and laughter because people become perpetually afraid of offending other people as well as being publicly shamed."

Huber is chairman of Mainstream Mental Health, a non-profit organization, and has been a mental health professional for more than 20 years.

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