Warning! This Post Will Be Public! Will You Proceed?

Reddit is like the front page of the internet in a sense. The high volume of user traffic and user created/posted content means that I can see a pretty good picture of what people are discussing online. I can get links to news, entertainment, books, movies… and cute videos of cats!

I have been using reddit for a while: but not as a poster/contributor. I’ve never been one to put my ideas or myself ‘out there’, I’m not constantly updating my media feeds, or taking pictures of my food, or even using social media publicly at all. Facebook is useful to message and join organizational groups, but I’ve not really felt the social media ‘itch’ that seems to have grabbed most of the networked world.

I made a reddit account for this post. Instantly the lens that I am viewing the comments and content before me shifts dramatically. With the new potential ability to reply to user comments, I find myself reading much more carefully, and I feel people’s comments holding a heavier weight than before. Feeling that open channel of dialogue; feeling the potential for discussion heightened my attention and my participation. They wrote all of this out so well and people approved of them and I can do the same? Incredible!

A large part of why I refrained from joining internet posting sites like reddit: it honestly felt like it would be a fruitless endeavor. Sure, I’m online while I’m getting breakfast in the morning, but I’m not really there to interact or attempt to impact a gigantic conversation. It feels honestly impossible to have any sort of power or steering on reddit.  Some of the comments were one word responses to the post. Some were making jokes about other topics. A few comments were talking about some other post entirely.

My comment was not uprooted or touched: maybe someone read it, maybe they didn’t. Here is the comments section of the post, Ele4te is the account name so if you search that you can find the post in context.

Here is the text of my comment:

At what point did Fox leadership decide, “Maybe this isn’t the best PR for us”. They certainly took their time to make this decision. “Only 30 have come forward” “Keep him on this’ll all blow over” “31 now, sir” “Get him out of here! We can’t sustain this image!”

Ultimately this has made me realize that people feel empowered and pay closer attention to issues that they are able to discuss online. The need to give a public, online forum seems crucial for any business. Without online discussion it seems you’re simply at a disadvantage. Communication is a resource, and being able to post, comment, share, like, up-vote, and participate in the online dialogue may not always be impactful: but, it certainly is valuable. Why else would people do it?

 

Privacy, what’s that?

In the second chapter of Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated, there are many things discussed revolving around the privacy of teens when participating in social media. She speaks of two things that seem to go hand in hand in many cases: social steganography and the surveillance of parents. As she mentions, it has always been common that teens want privacy from their parents in certain aspects of their lives. The parents of teens today did not grow up with technology the same way that our generation has, usually causing them to want to be ever-present and all-knowing in their child’s life. Teens on the other hand don’t always want their judging, rule-implementing, and lecture-ready parents tracking their every move regarding social interactions. To combat this Boyd mentions, “many of the privacy strategies that teens implement are intended to counter the power dynamic that emerges when parents and other adults feel as though they have the right to watch and listen” (70). From this stems steganography where teens tend to code their messages by posting lyrics, sub-tweeting, etc. This made me think about when I was younger and in middle school or early high school and how my mom would look me up on social media to see what I was doing. I remember feeling frustrated not only because it was my page that I didn’t ask her to view but because there was no reason for her not to trust what I was doing. I was always safe, didn’t talk to strangers, or post things that could be deemed as unacceptable or inappropriate.

Parents seem to think that we don’t care about our privacy to the outside world or understand the dangers, but at what point can they trust that the way they raised us is enough and we will share what we want when we want? I found an interesting video in which Kelly Wallace from CNN discusses that her biggest fear is her children becoming involved with social media. This video was striking because she says at one point, “how will I possibly keep tabs on everything they’re doing?” as if in order to be a good parent she must know every single detail of her child’s life. She goes on to say that in reality parents might not even have a clue because of the ways teens have chosen to encrypt their messages. She gives an example about how someone might post a group photo but intentionally not tag someone as an act of aggression, something that would easily slip by parents viewing the picture. Her solution is to sign up for the social networks that the teens are on and befriend them. However, if teens go through such lengths to keep their parents from knowing what is happening on their social networks, where is the line to be drawn for privacy between teen and parent?