While there was a ton of outrage about U.S. surveillance practices following the revelations of Edward Snowden's info dump in 2013, Millennials, it seems, were pretty unfazed. We've grown up in an era of handing over tons of private information to social media companies and countless hacks into resources we use every day. Most of us, it seems, weren't really surprised that the government had access to that information, too. But a new survey from Radware shows just how comfortable Millennials are with government surveillance. It revealed that one in five millennials would rather the U.S. government sees their phone than their significant other.
Radware asked 2,224 U.S. adults over the age of 18 if they would rather show their phone to the U.S. government or to their partner. Overall, the results were what you'd expect: 89 percent of people would rather show their phone to their significant other, and those numbers stayed constant among both men and women. But when Radware broke down the data by age group, an interesting trend presented itself. Millennials were much more likely than other age groups to be comfortable with the government having access to their phones. Among those surveyed ages 18-34, 20 percent said they'd rather the government see their phone than their partners. Only eight percent of adults 35 and older agreed.
Within the Millennial group, men were slightly more likely to prefer showing their phones to the government, with 22 percent answering that way. Only 18 percent of women under 35 agreed. Radware speculated as to why this may be the trend among millennials, asking:
"Do more younger Americans have something to hide from their significant others? Or have they simply abandoned the idea of privacy after growing up in a world where so much of their personal information is accessible and shareable with anyone in the world?"
I could be a combination of both. Millennials, with a lack of access to traditional forms of employment, heavily rely on social media for "personal branding." Whereas parents and teachers once warned of urban legends about employers not hiring you because of that one photo on your Facebook page holding a red solo cup in college, many employers now require a strong social media presence to even consider your application. And even if they don't, millennials heavily curate their social media feeds just as a means of self-expression. As we all know, they're not always indicative of what's really going on in our lives all the time.
So for Millennials, a significant other — who, sure, may follow us on social media and see the version of ourselves we present to the world — looking at private phone messages, photos, and other details of what's really going on in our lives can be much more invasive than some vague government entity doing it. Presumably, the government doesn't care what your therapist said about that sex problem you brought up with her, which you then promptly texted your best friend about. Your partner might.
Ultimately, the survey does a great job revealing shifting attitudes towards privacy and intimacy among Millennials. How that affects our social and psychological well-being remains to be seen.