If I try to think of my earliest memory of using a computer, I find myself to playing a game with my older sister. The game was centered around a robot, Botley, and his sidekick Polly. The game was meant to be educational and taught science. I remember when my older sister first started letting me play with her, I felt old and mature. Being able to play on the mysterious computer was a coming of age out of childhood and into tweendom. I felt I was gaining access to something I had not been old enough until that moment to access. Thinking back on this experience, I would identify my experience as both social, but even more as an experience that I felt elevated me to a certain level of “cool.” These two identities would follow me form just eight years old to my older teen and young adult years.
When I entered middle school I began to hear about peoples screen names. I never got one, so I missed the entire AIM trend.I felt I was literally out of a conversation with my peers. This social media had become a type of social currency in which I was completely lacking. As I got older and entered high school Facebook became the new thing to have.
I also did not get a Facebook as my parents thought it was too much of a distraction. As a result of this absence on social media, I missed out on a lot of interaction with my classmates. I wasn’t invited to parties because they were primarily invited via Facebook, and I could never get the joke when someone would bring up “that picture.” I again was brought back to the feeling I had watching my sister playing video games on our home computer. I felt that I was somehow lacking that I was not able to access this online status. It wasn’t until I got a Facebook that I felt I had finally matured in the online setting.
When I reflect on the parts of the Internet that most strongly stand out in my memory of the Internet, they without a doubt are social. I found this to be an interesting contrast to the student’s autobiographies we read. I had never thought of the Internet being tied up to citizenship or language. I think only after reading those reflections I could see that my interaction with the Internet has been tied up with these factors. When I think of citizenship, I think of what it means to me to be a 20-year-old American woman. Being a citizen is more than what my passport states. It involves the way I dress, the way I think, and the way I look at myself in the mirror. To me my citizenship, my place in this country, has more to do with my race and gender than my actual birthplace. Being a white woman will affect me in getting a job, getting into schools, and how people treat me. And I think that this is largely due to ideas propagated on the Internet. Those first social encounters on the Internet, people are made aware of their genders. In your screen name whether it be “fashionluver” or “surferdude” (actual names!) we are constrained to certain gender stereotypes. As a woman I think from a very early age we are forced to be an overly feminized, western, girl. I say overly feminized because almost all of my peers screen names had something to do with shopping or fashion or lipstick or pink. And I say western because I never saw a peer with a name I could not pronounce even though I am sure some of them did have them. There is no other alphabet on social media besides the American one.
It seems that in my current use of the Internet, my biggest concern is with privacy and information. It seems the Internet often know more about myself than I actually know about myself. I find this most obvious when Google “autofills” my information. It is always shocking that the Internet can remember my password to a certain website that I myself could not remember. The Internet, unlike myself, has no human error. It remembers everything and anything we give to it. I think that this lack of security or ownership of my information limits the freedom I could have on the Internet. Especially in recent years, people have become increasingly aware of the way hanging on to information is like tying a cloud to sand. It seems impossible to keep any online privacy.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-socgG1dqE
Another issue from aside from privacy is the perpetuity of the Internet. In his Ted Talk , Juan Enriquez discusses the mark we leave online.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fu1C-oBdsMM. He proposes the possibility that our imprint online is just as permanent as a tattoo. This is another fear I have of the Internet. Frequently we hear of job interviewers looking up photos of you online and the fact that I have no control on what is online is quite daunting.
It is quite a perilous feeling not knowing where this information is going or who owns what I put out online. Another question that I find is very prevalent in our society is where do we draw the line? I read an interesting article in the Times about the hypocrisy of American privacy.http://time.com/3319605/online-privacy-hypocrisy/We find it acceptable to use private information to reveal a crime, yet leaking personal pictures is a violation. This makes me wonder what is acceptable in this day in age to reveal online? Isn’t my credit card information just as private and sacred as a revealing picture? Yet it would seem our society hold it in reverse. Imagine if when you went to buy an item the retailer asked you to hand over a home video. This would seem weird and personal. Yet I have no problem handing over a credit card number, which gives anyone, access to my private monetary transactions.
I can’t imagine living without the Internet, but it would be naïve to suggest that it hasn’t opened Pandora’s box for us. Even though policing the Internet would seem too George Orwell, we must find a way to secure privacy for the comfort and safety for all.
Norton, Jim. “We’re All Hypocrites About Online Privacy.” Time. Time, 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 12 Sept. 2014.
Ted. Juan Enriquez: Your online life, permanent as a tattoo. YouTube. YouTube, 2 May 2013. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fu1C-oBdsMM>