You’ve probably heard of Marshall McLuhan’s popular phrase, “global village”, which describes the effect of new technologies in bringing once fragmented people over vast distances much closer together. In this regard, online groups and social networks have recovered a tribal sense of community – especially among Millennials – because of the direct access that such technologies provide to people, including friends and family members, regardless of their location in the world. Also, through the use of smartphones, this idealized community can be brought with them and accessed anywhere there is an Internet connection, which makes family members, friends, groups—or neighbourhoods, in the old-fashioned sense—more relevant in their daily lives.
I think that the main difference between neighbourhoods of the past and those online communities today is that while online, individuals feel a greater compulsion to share information about one’s personal life. Following the emergence and popularity of social networking websites like Facebook, privacy concerns and expectations have been changing, and Millennials are leading the way in accepting that a traditional definition of privacy cannot be expected online.
Sure, while social networking is a free service, abdicating control of personal information, photos, writing, videos and memories is arguably a high price to pay. But as concerns over trading privacy for services increase, it may be that the concerns diminish when there is a potential benefit. In other words, Millennials are not trading privacy for service, but for community online.