Multiple times a day, I log into Facebook, WordPress and Twitter. I write down my thoughts. I share links and photos. The internet knows more about me than many of my friends do, because some of my friends may have forgotten that I can speak French, am allergic to artichokes and I don’t like people who end their sentences with the statement “Fact!”.
My friends may not remember a particular photo until they see it or it is described to them. The internet recalls it in the blink of an eye.
Slowly, my life is becoming digitized – an archive of moments, of opinions, of mundane statements or observations I may make.
Some people feel threatened by this idea. They are overcome by the dramatic Man Vs Machine sentiment, which is part of our zeitgeist. They are certain the end is nigh! The particularly paranoid among us will imagine computers developing minds of their own and using our information against us. Soon, Will Smith will rise from the ashes, cute dog in tow, and single-handedly rescue us from those evil robots/zombies/robot-zombie combos.
Can you imagine? So intense is our need to shift the blame that we anthropomorphize computers. So profound is our forgetful nature that we fail to remember we are the ones to blame.
There, I said it.
Bear with me. So you went for a job interview but didn’t get hired because your potential employer Googled your name and saw you dressed up as a pirate holding a cup of what may or may not have been booze and thought that might be a little inappropriate for somebody who hoped to be, as a teacher, a role model to impressionable children. And you’re surprised why, exactly?
When, during that hungover morning after, you logged onto to Facebook/Myspace/Twitter/etc and actively, of your own free will, clicked ‘UPLOAD’, did you not realise that image would be up on the net forever and ever and ever? Surely everybody knows that by now. Nobody reached into your computer and pulled out that photo and plastered it online. You did that yourself. Surely your lack of responsibility should be chided here – not the internet’s memory.
Look, if you want to install a ‘FORGET’ button on your social media network, like Delete suggests, then go for it. It’s another choice we get to make and I’m all for choice.
But surely there is a lesson to learn here, and that lesson is one we learnt even before the internet, before social media: Every action has a consequence.
And maybe instead of just freaking out about how doomed we are, we should make damned sure that people realise when they click UPLOAD or POST exactly what they are doing.
After Facebook changed for the umpteenth time last week and people went mad yet again because they had to adjust to yet another way of doing things and nobody really likes change, really, there was a copy&paste status doing the rounds, particularly favoured by those angry types who like to do things in ALL CAPS BECAUSE IT MAKES YOU SO MUCH MORE AUTHORITATIVE AND CREDIBLE.
And this is how it went:
FACEBOOK HAS CHANGED AGAIN IN A WAY MOST OF US DO NOT LIKE. TO COUNTER THIS TO THE DEGREE THAT WE CAN, WE ARE GOING TO NEED TO CO-OPERATE. PLEASE DO ME A FAVOUR AND MOVE YOUR MOUSE OVER MY NAME HERE, WAIT FOR THE BOX TO LOAD AND THEN MOVE YOUR MOUSE OVER THE “SUBSCRIBE” LINK. THEN UNCHECK THE “COMMENTS AND LIKES”. I WOULD PREFER THAT MY COMMENTS ON FRIENDS AND FAMILIES POSTS NOT BE MADE PUBLIC, SOMETHING THAT IS NO LONGER POSSIBLE TO CONTROL FROM THE USER-END OF THINGS ON FACEBOOK CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? THEN, PLEASE RE-POST THIS IF YOU DON’T WANT YOUR EVERY SINGLE MOVE POSTED ON THE RIGHT SIDE IN THE “TICKER BOX” FOR EVERYONE TO SEE! IF EVERYONE DOES THIS AND HELPS EACH OTHER OUT BY REPOSTING THIS MESSAGE, IT WILL HELP SWING THINGS BACK IN OUR PRIVACY INTERESTS, THAT IS ‘WE’ THE FB USERS, RATHER THAN THOSE OF FB MANAGEMENT.
To all you people going on about turning off subscriptions so we can’t see your comments on the newsfeed on the right: If it’s that private, it should NOT be on Facebook. Everything you post on Facebook WILL be broadcast to your friends and you agree to that as soon as you hit ‘Post’. Just sayin.
Right? If it’s on Facebook, it’s fairplay. You put it there.
But let me get back to the point. Maybe if we’re so scared of the world being machinized and permanently memorized forever so that kids 4000 years from now will examine your status updates with the same fascination that we examine cave drawings, perhaps we should begin to actually exercise our humanity DESPITE this.
I’m talking about forgiveness. I’m talking about not blowing things out of proportion. I’m talking about being an employer who can actually look past a cup of Schrodinger’s booze on the internet when employing somebody and maybe remember that you’re no stranger to a pint of beer despite being an influential headmaster and all that.
I’m talking about not sweating the small stuff, even though it’s there and you know it.
Surely that is more powerful and humanizing than being so embarrassed we resort to deleting the internet.