Here’s a thought – the extent to which you value your personal data is connected to your self-worth. When was the last time you took a moment to reflect on your true value? Perhaps it’s our failure to recognize our own value as human beings that causes us to disregard the value of our personal information.
It’s time for that to change. In this article, I provide you with three practical steps you can take to reclaim your value and the value of your personal information. You’ll be prepared to declare I value myself, I value my personal information.
1. Acknowledge your self-worth
Self-worth means “the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person; self-esteem; self-respect.” Positive self-esteem, self-confidence and self-respect are essential components needed to develop a complete self-image. Feeling that we are “worthy” is the foundation for our ability to express ourselves with confidence and integrity.
Self-worth derives from liking ourselves and from recognizing the contributions we make in the world. Self-worth means we have a deep respect for ourselves and the efforts we make – not necessarily the outcomes we achieve. Self-worth is tied to our deepest identity and sense of self – who we really are apart from our profession, our financial worth or social status. Self-worth originates from the inside, from our core set of values. It is not dependent on what others think of us.
Author and holistic health practitioner, Deepak Chopra, in his exercises to foster self-esteem encourages inner dialogue such as, “I am totally independent of the good or bad opinion of others,” “I am beneath no one, and no one is beneath me,” and “I am fearless in the face of all challenges” as a means of helping us recognize our self-worth.
Brené Brown, author and research professor at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work, also provides helpful guidance in how “we can disarm the influence of shame to cultivate a life of greater courage, joy, and love.”
Take some time to remember your value. How will you value your personal information if you do not permit yourself to acknowledge your self-worth?
2. Take inventory and rank the value of your personal information
Just as we take an inventory of our financial assets in preparation to file our taxes, we should periodically take an inventory of our personal information. Compile the inventory in a way that makes sense to you – by writing a list, drawing a diagram or visualizing your personal information. If visualization works for you, close your eyes and focus on yourself, then use your imagination to form a mental image of information that is personal and identifiable to you.
Consider all the types of data that you and your family create. This might include personally identifiable information such as your name, email address, birth date, gender, social security number, cell phone number, and photos. It could also include sensitive personal information such as prescription information, medical condition, racial or ethnic origin, or records of criminal offenses. Finally, consider information such as your online browse or purchase history, Google search history, IP address, geo-location information and mobile device ID.
Think of the various sources of data that is created by you and about you. Whenever you interact (online and offline) or make a transaction, you are likely either actively providing your personal information or some type of information is collected about you. The sources could be work-related (personnel or payroll records), school information (grades), mortgage payments, credit card purchases or applications for credit, social media posts, or information about your children.
In our information age data is collected and tracked in many ways we may not realize. Julia Angwin’s recent book “Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance” details the many ways the government, private companies and others are tracking our personal data. The breadth of surveillance and the methodology by which we are tracked and our data sorted and studied is surprising and thought-provoking.
Once you have completed the inventory, rank your personal information in their order of importance to you. Certain information may have sentimental value (such as personal photos or information about your children). Other information may have financial or security value (like your credit card information or passwords – things that could be compromised or stolen by identify theft or a data breach). Your online profile (including your online browse or purchase history) can offer value to data brokers and online marketing companies. Finally, certain information (such as social media posts or criminal history) may impact the value of your online reputation.
This hierarchy will be personal to you and dependent on the type of value the information represents. Simply ranking this information will reveal to you your personal information priorities.
3. Own it!
Develop a privacy practice to own the value of your personal information. This involves cultivating awareness so you can make conscious choices about your personal information.
How do you protect those things in your life that you value?
You are worth it. Your personal information is worth it.