Privacy. It seems to be a big topic. It feels like through all of our learnings in WEB101, the real push with all of it has been about Privacy. Subliminal and not so subtle programming are aimed directly at the uni student: beware, be careful, the internet is out to get you and to hurt you if you don’t get a specific balance of online content that is news-centric not personal-centric. Having never been concerned about online privacy before, I find it quite staggering how much of a strong push there is from Tama and the tutors toward privacy.
I’ve always been an open book, and I guess this flies in the face of how I live my ‘real life’ in the ‘real world’ and now I’m wondering why I am meant to invent a ‘new me’ to live in an online world. Why is it so essential that I hold back, moderate myself, ensure that I am only partially immersed? Well from what I can gather, it’s because bad things will happen to me online if I don’t. If I don’t post something silly about myself, somebody else will and later on in my life when I decide to run for President, that silly post will be used against me by the media. Obviously for this scenario to work, we’ll just need to ignore the fact that I’m almost too old to do anything silly, and I don’t live in America or ever think I would run for President of anything. But the key change to who I am offline to who I am online would be that I would have to STOP being intrinsically HONEST and OPEN and ACCOUNTABLE.
Because to be secretive is to not be honest or open. It’s hiding yourself and your actions away from people. It means you do not have to be accountable for your actions because nobody will see them. Is this who I really want to be ‘online’? Is this who my university want me to become? A nameless, sexless, ageless emoticon who never interacts but only broadcasts a moderated and carefully constructed point of view? This is what I think they are trying to sell us.
I am a sensible person. I do sensible things. I doubt very much if I could create a digital shadow even if I tried. Why? Well firstly because I don’t act in a way that is going to get me lynchmobbed. I don’t have pics of me drunk or stoned, practise magic or voodoo, cannabalise in my spare time or deliberately crash a car. I don’t get myself in those situations. The majority of my life is eating, sleeping, playing with the dog and now University. I don’t do anything exciting. I don’t do anything noteworthy. And I certainly don’t do anything that is going to get me in trouble with the law. So it will be hard to create a digital shadow that has my face to it, because I’m just far too boring to have one.
Secondly, I post a LOT of information about myself. Repeatedly. On a number of sites. You can see my full name (OMG!), my date of birth (MERCY, SAVE ME!), and my (SHOCK, HORROR) interests and hobbies! You’ll find them at a variety of web sites all over the Internet. Some are even in a different language! As I say, I’m an open book, so why would anyone try to create a digital shadow of me when there’s such an overwhelming smattering of ‘me’ by ‘me’ all over the internet. If there’s foolish action on film, I will be the one to post it, with a full explanation why. If there’s a strong opinion for or against something, I will be the one that states it and explain with full accountability, why I feel that way. Because I am, intriniscally, HONEST and OPEN and ACCOUNTABLE for my actions.
To hide half of myself, to prevent others from seeing parts of me, is to be misleading, dishonest and non-forthright. That isn’t who I am. And yet it feels so much like this is the new expectation, the new creed that comes with the privacy concerns of web 2.0. Because we have a wealth of information at our fingertips, we need to make sure nobody knows who is taking and learning and reading all this information.
I don’t understand it. I feel like there is an inherent contradiciton in here. We want this information, we want to be able to socialise with people from all over the world, we want to form true and real relationships with people, yet we must keep ourselves separate from the Internet, from all that WEB 2.0 technologies can give us. University is teaching me this. It’s teaching me that there is now a plethora of applications available for me to use, but that to use them is a bad thing because I will be exposing myself. We all will be exposing ourselves.
So the way I see it, there are two options for the human race. We can do as University suggests and hide ourselves online. We can give partial information and remain aloof to WEB 2.0 and all its glorious connections. We can live our lives in fear of a digital shadow.
Or we can become stepford wives. We will all be ‘very aware’ of how there are no places that are sacred, no places away from the glaring light of publicity. We will have become one with publicity and internet publishing. And we will all be reverting back to the behaviour of the 50s, where we all were very moral and upright pillars of society for fear of what the neighbours would think, what the town would say, what the peer group pressure would do to us. We will be forever ‘on show’ and our behaviour will always be moderated and careful and aware that it can be used against us. Citizen Justice will be our enforcers and we will alter our behaviour to match our audience in very new and conservative ways.
And I truly think this is where our society will be headed by 2015. After all, history has shown us that societies swing back and forth with large sweeping pendulums between loose and tight morals. The 20s were a time of decadence and thrill, the 70s were a time of free love, and 2010 has been a time for the ‘me-generation’. All of these decades reverberated with lax morals and openess. Society was less ‘structured’ in those decades. And then there’s the opposite times in our history: the 1900s, the 40-50s, and soon the 2020’s. These periods are renowned for their rigid and conservative stance; their impeccable taste and narrowmindedness. And many of these societal shifts occured because of a shift discovered and created on the university campus floor. The education whirlpool guides and forges these swings and ‘new education’ ideas emerge. The societal shifts come around every fifty years or so and they counterbalance the very relaxed life of other decades.
So here we are, on the crux of the issue. We have a wealth of information available on the web. We have the capacity to bond with it as one because of Web 2.0 technologies. But do we do so? Because to immerse ourselves in that world will give our society two choices: be extremely closed and private, or be open yet conservative.
They aren’t particularly likeable options. And yet, history has shown us that like sheep to the slaughter, we will follow universities down the river until we drown.
As for me? I’d rather be a goat.