What’s Next 2016: The generational clash, and sharing vs privacy
By Benjamin Cher July 28, 2016
- Sharing is a two-way street, there is a need for controls
- Is it better to have no voice, or be a voice lost in the crowd?
AS more interactions go digital, there is a need to develop the etiquette and processes for dealing with them – and from people sharing photos of their dinner to avoiding social media altogether, there appears to be a clash between the older generation and the millennials.
This issue, somewhat tangentially, came to a head at the talk Life Going Digital – Why This Is No Drill, The Garena Experience, at the second annual What's Next conference organised by Digital News Asia (DNA) in Kuala Lumpur today (July 28).
The talk was by Garena Interactive group president Nick Nash, with Vision Animation chief executive officer Low Huoi Seong acting as provocateur.
“On a personal note, old-school guys like me value our privacy – and even though I have a Facebook account, I refuse to turn it on,” said Low. “And I think I’m not alone in this.”
He posed a challenge to Nash: “To the extent that your business is an integration of that social media, that seamless transition from a chatroom to e-commerce or any other platform, what does that mean? Are you just waiting for us dinosaurs to go away?”
But Nash said that privacy is still an important concept today, even for Garena.
“I actually think it’s quite the opposite – privacy is a timeless thing. I think if anything, the ‘millennial generation’ is coming to grips with what it really means, and learning from experience that perhaps a too-permissive approach to privacy may not be a good life-long strategy,” he said.
“In our business, we take privacy very seriously – and this is me not spouting off talking points from my PR (public relations) department.
“Every one of our businesses is very careful about data you want to share,” he added.
Singapore-based Garena has companies in the mobile gaming, e-commerce, and payment apps markets.
“The solution isn’t a complete lack of sharing, or a completely permissive level of sharing, but a selective degree of sharing based on a proximity of friendship,” said Nash.
“I’m very happy to share certain things with my first degree friends or family members, or my team in the game, but there are certain things I’m not comfortable with sharing with complete strangers,” he said, adding that “if it’s in your control, then [sharing] is a very powerful thing.”
Values being threatened
But Low argued that privacy values are under threat.
“I feel people today have less discretion, or have been brought up in an environment where they act with less discretion,” he said.
“This is because they feel … that there is an expectation to share anything and everything – I don’t really want to know what you had for lunch, but there are pictures.
“And that springboards to everything else that you’re doing – while you [Nash] as a service provider may value privacy, the users themselves are not being discretionary,” he added.
Nash disagreed, arguing that sharing is an evolving activity, and is a two-way street.
“Privacy began when someone wrote an autobiography and his friends said, ‘I didn’t want to read that’ – it goes to something very sociological,” he said.
“Because funnily enough, privacy is a two-way thing – part of it is me controlling what people can hear about me, but you may also want to control what you receive on your Facebook feed.
“This is an evolving topic and it is something we need to get better at,” he conceded.
What Nash believes is that consumer choice and control will determine how sharing will evolve.
“We really love the concept of connecting others and making the world more connected – our motto is ‘connecting the dots.’
“But it has to be in a way that people are comfortable with, authentic, and in some way, adding value to people’s lives,” said Nash.
“I love the idea that if you want to, you can see what’s trending on your social network. At the end of the day, as a broad trend, it is a good thing for us to be a more connected species.
“The onus is on all of us to find the right way to do that, in a way that is privacy-sensitive and compliant – but we should all be believers in better connectivity,” he argued.
Wheat from chaff
Ultimately, it is up to the individual, Nash said. “As Deng Xiaoping said, ‘Let a thousand flowers bloom.’
“When you have individual choice, the quality of what you experience over 160 hours of your week generally drifts up.
“Also everybody is given their own voice – for example, individuality, a humanist concept, was given more relevance and realism when everybody had a SIM card in China.
“Suddenly, everyone could be uniquely identified in a digital way, and now everyone exists from a digital standpoint which is authentic and real,” he added.
Low did not back down. “By that same token, you have also created a crowd, and your voice gets lost in that crowd,” he said.
Nash disagreed, saying that the worst evil is to have no voice at all.
“What is the worst evil? Not having a voice at all, having a voice that is drowned out, or having a voice in the crowd that can be selectively filtered?
“Of course, the ideal situation is when people can curate the conversation, but I’d rather have a voice than no voice at all.
“We’re simply on a ladder of progression, and my sincere hope as a humanist and a business leader is that as the cost of communication comes down, we will go through a bit of renaissance where there will actually be a premium on quality and incisiveness,” he added.
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