Privacy, please

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Written by Rachel Wood, contributing writer

The job title of “internet personality” is a rather new one. Anyone who spends enough time online, though, knows these celebrities are doing whatever they can to get their name and brand out into the world. Sometimes this means sharing personal stories to build a stronger relationship with their audience.

Some seem to believe when a person is so open and honest about his or her life, it is an invitation for critique and criticism, no holds barred. Other times, viewers may feel entitled to personal information about these vloggers’ lives.

However, a clear line needs to be drawn when it pertains to these individuals and their safety and privacy.

Several weeks ago, YouTube vlogger and filmmaker Julien Solomita shared a video about the importance of personal privacy. He had been approached by a stranger near his home who kept asking where another famous YouTuber, Jenna Marbles, lived.

That other YouTube star happens to be his partner. Understandably shaken, Solomita used the anecdote to remind viewers that, while he and Jenna enjoy interacting with fans, attempting to find their physical home address is pushing that interaction way too far.

Unfortunately, this behavior isn’t uncommon. Celebrities, singers and the like have been dealing with these issues for quite a while.

When these internet personalities put themselves online, they become just that – a personality. Even though they might divulge intimate details about their lives, they are typically in the business to entertain.

It’s a bit like our own social media presence; we pick and choose the best parts to share and show off. As much as I wish my life looked like my Instagram account, reality is all too often much different than what one sees online.

This discrepancy for some viewers, however, is apparently hard to see. Many online personalities want to be seen as more approachable and relatable, making them seem more “human” than traditional celebrities. YouTubers tend to talk to their cameras as if they’re talking with their viewers one-on-one, creating an air of friendliness and intimacy.

But if someone is willing to put this much of themselves online, does that mean they forfeit their rights to privacy? My answer is a resounding no.

For one, these internet personalities are usually extremely careful as to keep their home address and other identifying information private, opting to use P.O. Boxes for public transactions. We wouldn’t try to locate then show up at a Facebook acquaintance’s house without their knowledge, so why would it be okay to do it to anyone else?

Audience members love to speculate about these people and their relationship statuses, job earnings and other extremely private information, and many seem to believe they have a right to it.

I think it’s time for these viewers to re-evaluate how they interact with those who are simply doing their job. Just like you wouldn’t ask a passerby where they live or for their personal information, it’s time we let these online stars have their peace and quiet away from the public eye.