It’s strange when something wasn’t a thing and suddenly becomes one.
Until a few years ago, most tech companies thought of privacy as something that was, well, dead.
We all wanted to share and bare ourselves to the outside world. It was liberating, entertaining, and so utterly fulfilling.
Slowly and sadly, the consequences of such open living began to dawn on one or two minds. In one or two tech companies.
People aren’t always so lovely. They can take advantage of you being so open. And did they ever.
The fashion turned as if from one issue of Vogue Italia to the next.
Apple decided that privacy could be one of its core values. Its core brand values, that is. Speeches were made, taunts toward the likes of Google and Facebook.
It was going so well that Apple started to run ads suggesting it was the only tech company in the world that cared about your private soul and the secrets that lie within. It even began to block the likes of Facebook from following people around, which oddly seemed to affect the latter’s profits.
I fear too many of Apple’s rivals were caught with their pants down — but not, of course, on their official Twitter feeds.
So here is Samsung following Apple, with a quite fascinating embrace of privacy. It released an ad that aimed to impress the very young and impressionable, that seeks to make caring about privacy fun. As opposed to a justifiably paranoid act of despair.
It begins with the chilly declaration: “Privacy Dashboard.”
But the cheery music gives you a clue that this isn’t all serious. The floating Skittles-like colored pills — and the remarkably young, wide-eyed woman who’s wondering why these pills are chasing her — assure that this is an entertaining exercise.
We soon realize that these Skittle-like pills are actually app icons following her around, desperate to know what she’s doing, where she’s going and, naturally, what she’s thinking.
Unlike Apple’s latest ad, where a young woman is appalled that her secrets are being sold at auction, this younger woman seems to think it’s a bit of a game.
She opens her privacy dashboard. It shows which pills are following her around. She can now control which pill sees what and when.
This makes her so happy, as it should. This is fun, after all.
What should have happened long ago is that tech companies — all of them — should have considered privacy an essential human characteristic.
Instead, the remarkably young Mark Zuckerberg insisted that he knew people didn’t want privacy anymore. And the tech world believed him. They thought he was the future. He was. A slightly putrid future, unfortunately.
I’m not sure how much Samsung’s jaunty attempt to make privacy a little game will persuade those whose habit is to post their whole lives on Instagram.
Whole generations have, I fear, been lost to the notion that the branded or nefarious may be constantly poking around their lives.
Perhaps, though, newer, more sensible humans may be moved.
It might become cool to be a touch circumspect again.
It might even make people more interesting.