Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Word About Internet Use

This morning, I read several articles on Facebook's experiment of 2012. I narrowed those articles down to my two favorites. One is longer and more detailed. One is shorter, but every bit as valid and interesting to read. Here they are:
The shorter: Furor Erupts Over Facebook's Experiment on Users (The Wall Street Journal)
The longer: Everything We Know About Facebook's Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment (The Atlantic)
To summarize what happened, Facebook manipulated its users' news feeds to see if/how they would react emotionally when composing their own status updates. While many people are upset about this online happening, I look at it differently: I'm not surprised.

Had this information come out in, say, 2009, I would have been livid! Alas, nothing relating to the information gleaned from the internet surprises me anymore. From Google saving our search information, to what we post on our personal blogs or Google+, to what has been shared on Twitter, to what the sneaky NSA has done, to all of the online directories and background check websites, to Facebook's ridiculous algorithm (they create what they think we want to see in our news feeds, based on our prior Facebook activity), or its new mobile apps having access to our smart phone's microphones, nothing is private on the internet anymore. NOTHING.

I take the stance that anything we post online can be used against us.



But in all seriousness, I don't care what a website's or app's privacy policy states. They can spew legal jargon all they want, but in the end, I believe all of our online content (emails, posts, searches, chats, status updates, photos, tweets, comments, likes, complaints, etc.) is not safe. I believe every bit of content we post online will be out there, somewhere, F.O.R.E.V.E.R. (That's a reference to one of my favorite movies, "The Sandlot.") And anyone can gain access to our content if they have the right connections, or are great hackers.

Thus, we must take care in what we post. If we don't want someone to find out our thoughts, don't even think about typing the words! Anywhere!

Another way I look at it, is this: Be who you are. Be authentic at all times. Don't worry about so-and-so or such-and-such finding out this-or-that about you. Be happy being you. Own every bit of yourself. If there is something about yourself that you'd be terrified if someone found out, find a way to own up to it, or do the hard work to change yourself so you won't be concerned anymore. :)

One could say I pretty much live my life as an open book. I probably share way too much about myself for many people's liking. Yet, I don't care. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and feelings with others, and vice versa. If I really think deeply about myself, I have only one secret that I wouldn't share with anyone. That secret will go with me to my grave. Is it happy/sad/bad/good? No one will ever know, and I'm perfectly fine with that! :)

If I had my wish, the world (i.e., corporations, government, society) would quit their annoying internet behavior. All websites would keep their users' information private—unless those people wanted their information known. Facebook would stop using their silly algorithm. (Can you tell I have an issue with Facebook's algorithm?! Yes, I really have an issue with Facebook's algorithm.) Instead, Facebook would show whatever our friends post in our news feeds, in the order they post. Society (people everywhere) would respect others' opinions, even if they don't agree with them. Everyone would be more kind online. :)

The reality of our world is that the internet is completely out of control, and my internet wishes will most likely never come to fruition. I've decided I have to be okay with that. If I ever become not-okay with how our internet functions, I'll get off of it. But for today, I've chosen to stay electronically connected with my wonderful family and friends! :)

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