Here is a post that someone thought was just going out to her friends:

Perhaps not the classiest thing to post on Facebook…

Here is that same post, with some of the public commentary that it generated:

Check out the rainbow-profile-picture-to-celebrate-love commentator!

Here is a related question: would you allow this woman into your home?

Or, let’s say that you own a shop – would you exercise that “right of admission reserved”?

And if you sit on the side of “Whatever – let her and her money in!” – would you be okay with other stores exercising their “right of admission reserved” on the basis of the store-owner’s anti-hunting sentiment?

Then there are other “sentiments”. We’re already familiar with American bakeries refusing to bake same-sex marriage cakes – but what if Bible Belt Christians start refusing to serve gay and transgendered people because of their email browser histories or the types of movies that they’ve watched on Netflix? Or liberals refusing the custom of anyone that had been photographed in the vicinity of a white supremacist rally, or someone that has contributed money to the Ted Cruz campaign? What about patriots refusing to serve anyone that has a family trust in a tax haven?

I know that’s a lot of questions. But I’ve been thinking about this recently, for a few reasons. Firstly, data breaching (these came from

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I mean – our data is not safe. Although I think we already know this based on the sheer volume of spam received via email, sms and unsolicited facebook post.

But even putting that aside, Google and Facebook know me quite intimately: the articles I read, the posts I share, the stuff I buy on Amazon and takealot, the content of some of my emails, who my friends are, what my friends like, etc.

And those are not just “things” – because, after all, how do the people in our lives “know” us? They know what we like and what we don’t like. They know the things that we care about. They know our family histories and our future plans. And the close friends are those able to draw accurate conclusions about our so-called “private thoughts” by pulling some of those facts together. And while it may seem quite impressive when your new therapist hits you up with some key insight gleaned from the story that you just told – in most cases, that is the lowest of hanging fruit. Take “noticeable lack of mention of father” plus “obvious inequality in this ‘important’ friendship being complained about” and most of the time, that equals someone with high anxiety around abandonment.

And if you look at all the time that Google and Facebook get to spend observing us individually, there is just no rational way to assume that your private life is opaque. It’s simply a clever algorithm analysis away. The only upside is that we tend to be uninteresting as a collective.

But I found a new podcast recently called “Meanwhile in the Future”, and one episode in particular is worth a listen: “Facetime“. It’s about this very issue – the impact of public living, when facial recognition software in the security cameras of your local bakery becomes fast enough to pick you out of the crowd, trawl your data history, and notify the shopowner on whether or not they ought to pull a Kim Davis.

Won’t that be fun?

Rolling Alpha posts about finance, economics, and sometimes stuff that is only quite loosely related. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, or like my page on Facebook at Or both.