I think of all the readings this week…,there were a lot, the Knopf piece, for me, held the greatest nugget of digital awareness. I think to a large degree simply because I agree with most of the things outlined in the 7 chapters outlined…well at least that which I had the technical knowledge to interpret. In addition to agreeing with the content, I feel that the suggestions put forth by Knopf connect closely to other articles outlining the depersonalization or fallacy of our digital selves.
I cant help but reflect on the post I made last week reflecting on the similarities between a mob in the medieval era throwing tomatoes, and trolls on the internet. Knopf identifies that one of the reasons for an awareness of our ‘digitalness’ is that we are building upon models which have traits which, once entrenched, are hard to deviate from, or alter. Much like social structures that exist in society, we are expanding our digital horizons and at the same time creating ‘rules’ and norms of behavior. Unfortunately much like our social norms and rules of behavior, what is occurring on the net may not be what was originally intended.
In the section “Why It Matters” Knopf lists a number of reasons why we should move forward with consideration into our digital future as both a society and as individuals. I particularly believe the section on the crowd mentality to be applicable to social media its use and its purpose particularly as they relate to individuals and their perception of self vs collective.
This idea of a hive mentality, collective or whatever you would like to call it, drives the direction of the internet and its development. I found it interesting that there would be an outcry against Facebook for cataloging and exploiting emotions in their algorithms as outlined by Millar. As these algorithms and bots weave through the tidbits we post online, there is no human presence to differentiate between moments of indiscretion, and a sudden influx of Star Wars posts. They simply gather data points identify a pattern and then try to serve us in the best way they can…of course while serving their evil digital overlords. WE may not like what the outcome of this electronic portrait, but there are some that suggest these are more accurate than we may like to admit. Either way the final image that they compile is accurate or not, is part of the price we accept and pay for the service…and it is like most aspects of the internet, a for profit endeavor both monetary and personal. After all, Facebook is at its core a business and exploiting our innate behaviors for profit is not new for businesses. Nor is it new that these targets often focus on our most ‘unlikable’ traits. However, perhaps we have an opportunity to change the trajectory of our digital future so that it does not mirror our less ‘appealing’ nature.
Of course the outcome of people that use the web for negative attention and power has tremendous impact on those that frequent digital environments. The unfortunate thing is that denizens of the internet do not only have to endure the negative attentions of trolls and other dark beings on the web, they also have to measure themselves against the collective criticisms of the collective internet community. Whether that is the dual image presented to keep up a good appearance, or concealing the troubles that plague us outside of the digital world. The troubles faced by the traces of our personal lives on the internet are a result of the ways that we now share information. Much like the Lewinsky article from a previous post, we are advancing both distance and speed with which we are able to spread both our good attributes as a community as well as the negative.
In closing, the Knopf reading provided some great suggestions on how to ensure that what we leave on the net is a representation of ‘opinion’ rather than mood. Taking the time to formulate responses, construct a video that took longer to make than it is in duration, or to simply choose an image, is quickly becoming a lost skill. Speed and being the first to the punch going viral or having the most hits often supersedes good judgement and discretion. Its really about the choice of ‘bits’ and ‘bytes’ we leave on the net.
The instant ability to communicate the most intimate and personal facets of our lives is probably not yet something we are ready to handle. This generation will undoubtedly learn from the mistakes of our generation. as we progress we define what a good digital citizen is, and will be in the future.