Numbness vs. Awareness

Social media is a phenomenon that is taking the world by storm. With the advances in technology and the widespread use of computers access to these services have skyrocketed. Social Media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have members numbering in the millions. This usage however brings to light a host of social norms that are being contested. Just what is ok to be posted onto the internet, and do people actually know what their actions online are doing? The information generation is posting more and more information about their own personal lives onto the internet, with Facebook as their medium. Whether it’s to say they found an awesome new restaurant, or they just took a number 2, more and more people are updating their lives to the world every minute of the day. The filters that existed in face to face interactions are seemingly non-existent in the current generations’ online culture.

The Facebook, created by Mark Zuckerberg, has been the center of the social media trend. His social networking site is the obvious evolution of the internet. Society in essence is social and all aspects of that social interacting is both on and offline. However, Facebook has, in some instances taken their view of social media too far. With their policy of opt-ins and opt-outs they have not given their community the options to screen their own content. Sure the features are their but even the users are mostly unaware of the privacy settings that are available to them. Accessing these features are often times hidden behind walls of links that are not thoroughly explained.

The feeling that users may have of numbness is that the generation shift to the online culture has created a burst of information creation. The privacy features that are employed are better suited to the service provider, than to the actual user. Because all these “privacy” features are automatically applied, the interactions that people see and post, they think are automatically filtered. It seems that the current generation just feels that all this interaction is normal; that these types of instant updates are a natural part of the world. With disregard with whoever reads their post users upload information about themselves onto the web and it is sometimes detrimental. As the movie, The Social Network, so aptly put it “The internet isn’t written in pencil… It’s written in ink.” People post things onto the internet that they regret later but once information is posted onto the internet that information is then spread to everyone that they are connected with. This feeling of numbness contributes to the users’ indifferent feeling towards their communications online.

The opposite of this numbness is an awareness of these privacy issues; that these users are aware of their interactions online and post knowingly. They know the ins and the outs of Facebook and control their privacy settings. This control over their content shows a new culture developing. One that exists not in the physical realm but in the digital world. The filters that we as humans grow up learning and developing must be re thought and re learned in the digital world. Granted the tools available to us are limited to the scope of human creativity, but it is also our responsibility to fully understand and utilize those social filters given to us.

Lawrence Chan
Information Science


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