After a long time I got that should-write-this-in-blog feeling, yesterday evening. So I started to jot down things and here comes few stories to my mind. There is this colleague of mine who does not want to be tagged in photos in facebook, and there is another one who does not want to be addressed in his real name! And on the other hand few of my female friends got into a big trouble after a sick (you know SICK) person with a fake identity started fooling around. And moving further I know many-a-lot of people expressing themselves and crowning the blogsphere with their creativity, but strangely anonymously.
What is so important about all these stories? Don’t be too quick to say first thing you’ll notice is that I’m surrounded by a set of weirdos in a web 2.0 world 😉 Most importantly all these incidents are about identities. Living in a world starting to get invaded by social media, we are capable of revealing our identities, hiding them or creating a totally new one as of our own taste.
Concepts like IM,social networking, forums, blogging, micro blogging, avatars have brought forth debates over issues and perceptions central to human communications in general, and they have revealed profound disparities in fundamental values and assumptions among participants. Some choose to glow in the limelight while some party masquerade.
Often without realizing it, and without any contemplation of the implications and possible consequences, each one of us who can afford the simplest computer and modem, has become a public figure of sorts. We chat, blog, tweet, tubecast, podcast & simply scream in ones & zeros. The special problems and risks which arise when one deals with a large public audience are something about which most of us have little or no experience or understanding. Many of us have not been warned by earlier generations (like they do for other threats on the road, at school, at uni or at work), simply because these technologies were built in our generations and they don’t have a clue about it.To be precise, we are sharing videos, sounds, images & texts while people watching. When I say people I include police, agents of various governments, terrorists, murderers, rapists, religious fanatics, the mentally ill, robbers and con artists, you name it.
In our day-to-day social interactions, as we deal with friends, acquaintances, employers, public officials, and total strangers, how often we feel we can really speak freely? How comfortable are we discussing controversial issues such as religion, politics, racism, sexuality, abortion or AIDS, for example? Most of us confine such candid discussions to certain “trusted” social contexts, such as when we are among our closest friends. But when we post it on the web, our boss, our clients, and our neighbours may very well read it. And on the other hand of course, authors have published under “pen names” since the dawn of publishing, and newspapers and magazines frequently publish letters to the editor with “name and address withheld by request” as the signature line.
But, will all of these lead to a virtual community where everyone is disguised and show off an avatar that is far away from our true selves? And if we have to consider each post’s possible impact on our social and professional reputations, on our job security and income, on our family’s acceptance and safety in the community, internet won’t be a free expression of opinions any more.
So, for me internet is neither good nor bad, it is whether you and I will be able to make our own decisions, and protect ourselves (or not) as we see it while freedom of information and open public discussion is ensured. Our activity in the world wide web today will be the strings in social fabric of tomorrow. Let’s be responsible & thoughtful in our every click, which may have the potential to shape the future of all mankind for the better.