The NetGen


A while ago, I read an article describing what is commonly-called the “NetGen” or “Gen Y” (loosely defined as those born since 1982, though I don’t personally agree with that demarcation) as being very comfortable with “cybernudity.”  In general, this means that those that have grown up with computers and the internet as everyday tools of life (as compared to a “new” invention that has changed the way one works, interacts, etc) have not real problems with the world knowing everything about their activities, their interests, their religious feelings, etc.  You can see this everyday in seemingly pointless Twitter posts and Facebook status updates.

The article also claimed that the NetGen is simultaneously fiercely protective of its identify security.  While these individuals don’t mind if strangers know that they are at the local coffeeshop meeting with friends (via a FB Places or Foursquare check-in, perhaps), anything that would lead to identify theft is completely out-of-bounds.  You can know where Jane Doe is, but you do not get to be Jane Doe, no matter how “cyber-naked” she is.

This brings us to an interesting place – sites such as and many, many others hook up to Facebook, LinkedIn, Yellow Pages, personal blogs, etc and aggregate all of one’s personal info.  You can look up a person by name, drill down by state and city, and find out a great deal of information.  This includes stuff like family size and wealth, type of residence, and even street location.

On the one hand, this kind of information is exactly what one would need to steal one’s identity, short of an SSN.  On the other, the places from which this information is gleaned if often required to be public.  Consider:

  • Facebook still defaults far too many things as public, meaning that one’s personal info on the largest social networking site is right there, in the open.
  • LinkedIn, by nature, needs to have a detailed public profile in order for professionals to find each other.
  • The Yellow Pages is a critical component of running a business effectively, which means you are putting your information as owner out in the open.
Those are just three examples.
So, if the NetGen likes being cyber-naked, but wants to protect identity, but also needs to be visible in the right places in the right ways, and still ends up on spokeo…what to do?  The line gets fuzzier, indeed.