The article focused largely on the false sense of security and indeed the anonymity that internet users (children, specifically) think relieves them from having to assume any form of social responsibility and respect for others in the real world. It goes on to say that…
For many kids, a cell phone is nothing short of an appendage.
“Mobile phones are among a child’s most precious possessions,” Carr (head of the children’s technology unit for NCH, formerly known as the National Children’s Home) said. “This is their space, something they control. When something goes wrong with the mobile phone, they feel especially vulnerable.”
It’s a potential flip side of the digital lifestyle: Children who make themselves accessible to parents and friends via phone, game console or other always-on gadgets also open themselves up to unwanted communication. What’s more, the time-honored humiliation of being taunted in front of others can now live on in perpetuity on cell phones and Web sites.
“There’s no sanctuary anymore,” Carr said. “It’s more pernicious and more insidious than it was in the olden days.”
More pernicious is also the apparent lack of privacy that the always-on, password-protected and online lifestyle of the post-Y2K generation brings with it. Yes, I did say “apparent”, not the “absolute” lack of privacy.
Consider the fact that the previous essay mentioned what kind of camera Alex Stram used. It revealed when those pictures were taken and where those pictures were taken. What it didn’t mention was that the Moshzilla girl was born on the 18th of November 1987.
Why is this known? EXIF data. Blog posts. Google. Little Sammy’s own MySpace page.
It took longer to write these blog posts than it did to research most of its content (and that’s another topic entirely) — which begs the question: How much does Google know about us? Why does Google know so much about us? Consider also that Google is but one of many search engines out there, each spidering the web, hopefully honouring no-follow metadata, and collecting obscene volumes of data. And that data does, of course, include information about ourselves… you and me and your neighbour’s dog.
But how much of it can you actually trust?
If you do a [insert favourite search engine] search on current media darling Sarah Palin, you’re bound to find sponsored articles or products listed above a Wikipedia article which, in all likelihood, even appears above her official, sanctioned site or home page, along with oft-cited and supposedly-reputable news gatherers and traditional media outlets.
Who will you believe? Her own site, the one she may or may not have contributed actual words to?
Certainly, depending on what kind of info you’re looking for — but surely no dirty laundry that a vice-presidential candidate would willingly want to be known!
So where would you go then to look for skeletons in her closet? Blogs, newspapers, interviews of those who (claim to) know her?
Possibly, although these again may be accounts, recollections and biased opinions tainted by different perspective and points of view, as well as fallible human memory — something that Google & Co. seem to have no shortage of but can be manipulated or removed if the Secret Service or similar organisations feel the need to do.
The Men In Black might rely on supermarket tabloids but I don’t think that real spy agencies use Google or yasni.de (a “person” search engine) which, for instance, will yield names and “profiles” of people that happen to share the same name (thereby distorting the overall picture) as well as a host of pictures of Sarah Palin. And many of these are fake.
MILFdom has its price, and therein lies the unbearable burden of being.
The moment you’re birthed, you become public property.
Somewhere, somehow, someone has information on you and me and each and everyone of us; whether it’s the local department of domestic affairs that has your birth certificate (or similar) and home address, your school (the same info and your grades), your employer (the same info plus your salary and banking details), or your friends, family or spouse (all of the previous plus your deepest fears and sexual kinks). Consider how much that grey individual who develops your film at the local mall knows about you. Everyone and anyone has or could have some potentially humiliating knowledge or data about you, even if it’s just a mere snapshot in the family album of a Japanese tourist whose camera happens to catch you pulling a booger from your nose while in the apparent seclusion of your parked car in the background, or a long-forgotten ex-fellow student’s memory of handing you the crib notes that helped you pass the final exam. PWND!
Now imagine if all that information was pooled together.
Gives new meaning to the term “common knowledge”, doesn’t it?
Yet these are the same paranoid pro-privacy nuts who cry “foul play” if their name is mentioned somewhere or a (usually unflattering) photo appears on the internet while proudly driving around in their soccer-mom vans with the names of their precious children boldly stickered on the rear window.
Most people don’t care. Really. Most folks just don’t give a shit.
Humans are social creatures. We don’t mind if certain information is known… in fact, we gladly and openly broadcast our every move and thought through blogs (such as this very one) or a host of social networks like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and even last.fm. Privacy? O RLY?
How much personal privacy is there really? Next to none, I say — unless you’re a crazy, unemployed hermit without a computer that lives in a cave on the outer reaches of the Gobi Desert (in which case, you’re likely to get a visit by those nice people from National Geographic once someone spots you on Google Earth).
Would a grainy picture of you with your mistress in the passenger seat (oops!) taken by a speed camera count as an invasion of privacy? Yes and no. That photo is only used as evidence for a business transaction between you and the traffic department — unless your wife happens to open your mail (in which case you could find it being auctioned off on eBay by your future ex-wife, or worse). What was once private and discrete can become very public very quickly, all at the cheap cost of your own reputation and someone else’s discretion or plain manners.
User prothe113 makes a few points in response to the aforementioned CNET article:
I’m seeing more and more people who seem to believe that it’s acceptable to be incredibly rude and offensive to each other, just because they’re shielded with the anonymity of an online handle or safely ensconced in their car. I get on a bus and I have to listen to the gal next to me jabbering away about her latest pap smear or the guy she’s screwing at top volume on her cell phone. To an earlier generation this simply wouldn’t be acceptable; it’s not just the technology, it’s the very rudeness… it’s the absolute disregard for the feelings or personal space of the people around you.
No, I’m not in favor of pampering (or, as one poster elegantly put it, “pussifying”) our kids. But this isn’t about that. This is about our culture, and its slow degeneration into a pack of narcissistic, popularity-obsessed boors.
Is this really the reward we get for all our hard technological work? A society where nobody actually *cares* about anyone else but themselves (except as someone to be used or bragged about), and where everyone is simply a disposable commodity — an entry on a “friends” list; easily added and just as easily deleted?
Big Brother is watching… but is he actually interested?
In the online world, people and “friends” are commodities for one another, nothing but links to someone else’s profile a mere click away, as if those links and backlinks to people more famous than yourself had some sort of value beside the ability to brag that a celebrity like Brad Pitt has actually visited your site or glanced upon your pithy profile.
What? How does this compare with the real world? Most people in the civilised world might know who he is and what he does for a living… really nothing against the man, he seems sympathetic enough but who the fuck is someone like Brad Pitt to you? Does anyone honestly believe that if he were to lay his eyes (browse) on me (my profile) or someone I know (have linked to) for whatever reason while shopping for groceries or nappies (surfing the net) that this common act somehow creates a virtual connection between myself and his wife (hotlink) or Jennifer Aniston (visited link) who, in turn, could eventually find me? Ridiculous. Nor will my own hotlink of a wife be fond of the idea. Absurd. Social networking is actually quite a farce.
Commodities. Meaningless links and connections to one another, yet open to all sorts of abuse and interpretation. Utterly useless and indeed even irresponsible if we were to expose most of our friendships and relationships in the real world, and then cry “foul play” when someone takes this information (in the form of data or a photograph) that we so readily show off with a flashy, animated border and modifies it or does something completely silly with it and it then becomes an “internet phenomenon”. Oh yes, we still need to be selective about our friends and how we look and what we wear and what we do and who we associate with.
Hasn’t Mom taught you not to accept candy from strangers?
The responsibilities and rules of the real world Siberia apply in the online world of Cyberia as well.
Because, in all seriousness, how can anyone honestly believe that this sorry creature (her obviously less-than-sober state aside) was in any way oblivious to how stupid she looks and acts before this picture was taken?
Does she have any cause or even the right to complain if the photo travels around the world and people in lands near and far have a jolly good laugh at her expense?
Nope. Ain’t no such thing as personal privacy in public.
That’s why it’s called “public”.
Image credits: The personal archives