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January 16th, 2010


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07:48 pm - Musing on Privacy
I was talking about the way society is changing with teaotter today, and she pointed out that one of the most common older forms of tolerance, which is not caring what people do when you (in a wider social sense) can’t see what they are doing is rapidly failing. In addition to various groups ceasing to be willing to hide their activities (or in the case of many GLBT people, much of their lives) from public view, you have a mixture of the internet, and especially mobile communications, with twitter, cellphone camera, and etc… that are swiftly rendering much of the private public (and searchable). One of the most interesting (and to me, most hopeful) developments is that fact that young people today have very different ideas about privacy. As the article says:
"The private self and public self become intertwined in a way that we (older folks) can't possibly understand," Young says. "So they're not embarrassed about some of the things that we think they should be embarrassed about because it's an extension of the self that they're used to having viewed."

The trend toward online self-disclosure "really started with reality television and the confessional nature of that form of entertainment," says Anastasia Goodstein, author of Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens Are Really Doing Online. "And that began to permeate our culture."

So when sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Xanga, where people can post everything from the mundane details of their days to their innermost thoughts, began gaining popularity, teens were ready to jump right in.
To me, this is an exceptionally healthy and positive attitude, in large part because I’ve seen that older ideas of privacy provide excellent cover for bigotry, abuse, and many similar problems. However, this change in attitudes makes problems for the far too many people who are willing to accept or tolerate various behaviors as long as they don’t have to see them. That’s increasingly not an option, which I think is part of the explanation for the surge in homophobia, racism, and similar sorts of nastiness in the US over the past decade or so. What I’m hoping for is a movement from tolerance and acceptance of behaviors that you may know exist, but don’t have to ever interact with, to tolerance and acceptance of behaviors that surround you and that do not need to be hidden. One of the other changes that we’re seeing is a decrease in shame, which is from my PoV, a very good thing indeed. We shall see.

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Comments:


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From:aekiy
Date:January 17th, 2010 07:27 am (UTC)
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I've been waiting for that expanded tolerance as well. We're in a reactionary period right now, where people who grew up without the Worldwide Web, camera phones, and so forth providing extensive visibility to a broader range of belief and behavior are experiencing severe culture shock. As more people born after the creation of the Web become adults and have this increased multicultural visibility ingrained in them, tolerance ought to increase except in extremest groups that will eventually become obsolete sometime after there's virtually no one left from the age of privacy.
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From:heron61
Date:January 17th, 2010 08:31 am (UTC)
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Absolutely.
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From:andrewducker
Date:January 17th, 2010 10:47 am (UTC)
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That, sadly, is the way that most cultural change happens - through the death of the previous generation.

Extremists groups are also going to find tihngs easier for a while - because the internet makes it easier to find other people who think like you.
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From:aekiy
Date:January 17th, 2010 11:12 pm (UTC)
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This is true, though I do wonder if, over time, they can begin to come together in different ways because of the newer ways by which they can connect and socialize as well as the gradually changing social environment around them.
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From:queen_in_autumn
Date:January 17th, 2010 01:13 pm (UTC)
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The internet has been crucial to my own ability to connect with like-minded people and get past both fear and shame about elements of my own sexuality and religious path.

It excites me to see Wolfling's easy acceptance of diversity, while my parents still use the word "weird" as one of their ultimate perjoratives and worry that one day she might do something like get a tattoo which might prevent her from having a professional career.

Obviously I'm very open in my journal (although I've started filtering more due to my stalker experience a couple of months ago), and I know a lot of people who would not be comfortable with my degree of personal disclosure -- but I enjoy the freedom to be able to talk about a lot of subjects that previously were taboo, and still are in many places in my life.
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From:dulcimergoddess
Date:January 17th, 2010 05:12 pm (UTC)
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I think our society would be a bit better if we kept some modicum of shame -- not shame based on identity, but on character. Those who steal from the needy, cheat the system and what have you should be ashamed. Alas, this sort of shame seems virtually nonexistent these days.
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From:kitten_goddess
Date:January 20th, 2010 11:39 pm (UTC)
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True. Some things just should not be shared, due to prudence. Don't blog about your drug use or post pictures of you half-naked doing Jello shooters, people! Those things could come back to haunt you.

And for heaven's sake, don't put your relatives on Facebook. That can invite all kinds of drama. (I witnessed this happen to a close friend of mine after she friended her relatives.)
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From:podisodd
Date:January 17th, 2010 11:03 pm (UTC)
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I do see contemporary media as a force for social change and tolerance. A very good thing overall, even if it comes with some complications. Putting things out in the open will, I think, eventually lead people to accept other people and lifestyles that they might not have previously.

However, the downside to the melding of private and personal life is a dwindling amount of real privacy. I think this is a trend that will not reverse anytime soon. As the current trend continues it will become less and less possible to find a job and make a living without having one's life being an open, searchable book. I believe that a socially or economically coerced lack of privacy may very well become THE civil rights issue of the twenty-first century.
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From:dancinglights
Date:January 22nd, 2010 11:11 pm (UTC)
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From:krinndnz
Date:January 18th, 2010 04:14 am (UTC)
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That's fascinating. I'd never made the connection before between the Internet and virtual urbanism/population concentration.
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From:tlttlotd
Date:January 18th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
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It seems to me that none of these kids have ever really had their privacy invaded: they've never been outed on a mailing list and faced the repercussions for it. They've never been stalked (complete with the "weird red car parked across from the house, driver has a camera.") They've never had their identity stolen and misused by someone. They probably have never looked at all of the information out there describing them after it's all been pulled together (such as with Webmii). They've never lost a good friend or been turned down for a job that they really needed because of something they said online.

Growing pains pull in both directions.
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From:heron61
Date:January 18th, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
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I can't say about the rest, but I strongly suspect that the lost job or not hired issue will work itself out in not much more than a decade, simply by virtue of the fact that by that point everyone in a position to hire people will be used to this and likely have various obvious skeletons of their own. As for friendships lost, from what I've read in other articles, it actually looks like many young people are used to this due to privacy breaches. OTOH stalking and identity theft remain problems.
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From:bodlon
Date:January 19th, 2010 11:21 pm (UTC)
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Weirdly, this is something I've had to start coming to terms with because of my push toward writing for publication, and developing a public persona that has continuity with my private one. And that's weird and difficult in ways I didn't expect.

I should probably go read that book.
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From:moominmuppet
Date:January 20th, 2010 03:47 am (UTC)
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Sounds like an interesting book (too braindead to make coherent statements otherwise at the moment)

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