Originally written for Hacker Noon on Medium.
I’m Betting it is Less Than You Think
The price for our privacy is surprisingly low.
This first hit me quite some years ago while I was working with a very successful restaurant group. I was conducting an experiment in customer service, in which I had set up a handful of Twitter accounts for the brand, alongside keyword searches for each restaurant.
The very first night we had this setup in place, a remarkable thing happened.
A woman in the restaurant had ordered a steak, a not inexpensive steak, and when her plate arrived, it was significantly undercooked.
This woman promptly pulled out her phone, took a photo of the plate and posted it on Twitter with a caption to the effect of “At this fancy restaurant, paying a lot, steak sucks.”
I happened to be in the restaurant that night and was approached by a manager, phone in hand, asking what the hell he should do. It took only my asking him what he thought he thought should be done before he sprang into action.
I saw him walk around the restaurant, looking for the woman who posted the tweet.
Upon locating her, he did three things; asked the kitchen to re-fire ( redo ) her steak, checked the POS for what wine her table was drinking, and went over to talk to her.
Now, I wouldn’t have approached her like this, but he walked up and said, “Excuse me, I heard your steak wasn’t cooked properly.”
You should have seen this woman’s face—a perfect mix of shock and awe I could not imagine.
As she struggled to understand what was happening, he told her not to worry about it for a second.
Her old plate was cleared, told a new steak was on the way, and if she didn’t mind, he wanted to buy a bottle of the wine for the table ( which he conveniently had in hand ).
The effect of this gesture?
Not only did the woman go back to Twitter six more times that evening to rave about the service she’d received and tell everyone how they just had to visit this great restaurant, but she returned every night that week as well.
Are we really that different?
It is, however, a great example of how we can benefit from trusting these platforms with our information.
This woman told the world where she was, what she was doing, that she liked steak, that she could afford to be in a fancier restaurant.
Is this any different than the majority of what we all post online?
Is that data that we need to concern ourselves with sharing?
Her payment, a fantastic night out, with excellent service and a surprise after an honest mistake in how her food was prepared.
Now think about your usage of social media and technology.
How have you benefited?
Have you had a similar experience, or has your value return been different?
Have you met people, learned things, found support?
Even if the value was transactional, did you get something you needed?
I’m again not suggesting that we all skip merrily into the future, allowing anyone who wants to do anything they feel like with our personal data.
We should not do that.
But by informing ourselves, pushing for transparency and some protections, we can and will all benefit from these platforms knowing more about us.