As millennials, we know that the internet and technology is complicated. In the early chapters of danah boyd’s novel, these complications are organized and spelled out for the reader to relate to. Privacy, addiction, and identity are only the beginning of these areas of concern for many; but all can be viewed in positive and negative lights.
During her chapter about creating an online identity, she writes about how individuals have many freedoms when it comes to each social medium but there are expectations as well. On page 49, boyd writes, “Impression management online and off is not just an individual act; it’s a social process”. After this she uses examples of teens from across the country to express many of her points. In the following paragraph, Matthew provided her with insight into how he believed he was maintaining a professional image online but his friends were not. I find this to be a common scenery between friends and managing a professional image. Despite Matthew’s individual efforts to keep his page viewer friendly, he can’t always control what his friends do with their pages. Through being associated with these friends, he could be risking the identity that he has been working towards.
As a teen, I was less concerned with my professional image online because I wasn’t preparing for the professional world. My parents always warned of that whatever is online will always be there and that still sticks in the back of my mind. I now am more conscious of what I post or what I am tagged in on Facebook.
A few pages later, boyd likens the world of the internet to “one heck of a cultural labyrinth” (53). This analogy creates an image of winding through this maze of unknowing what is going to be around the next turn. Online interactions can be this way, even for adults. One post can be appropriate to share according to one’s values but maybe not to your neighbor who is also viewing it. Identifying your audience is important when writing on paper but writing online can twists and turns depending on who the audience actually is versus who it was intended for. For me, hearing a piece of writing out loud has benefitted my understanding of the author’s intent. I found danah boyd reading the preface of It’s Complicated and in hearing her voice, I am now able to read her words with more understanding of her intent while writing.
Each scenario that boyd provides creates a simple image that most millennials can relate to. Just like Matthew, I try to maintain a profile that can be used for professional and social aspects of my life. I’m bet the following chapters are also going to provide areas of teen’s interactions that can be interpreted various ways by various people, while all being highly relatable.
Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows is, ultimately, Carr sharing a well worded warning due to his fear of what humanity is to become if we are to stay on the path we currently travel as a species. He fears that mankind is to become so dependent upon the technology that is provided to us via the Internet that it shall come to a point where, as he said, our “…’human elements’ are outmoded and dispensable.” This fear, as evidence of Carr’s entire book, is warranted due to the evidence he presents. Yet, Carr does not really present a proposed solution to this fear of his; he makes it clear that he understands that the benefits seemingly outweigh the negatives, and then does not really say what we can do to avoid this science fiction-like demise. I feel that had Carr taken a bit of a broader look at history in perspective to the issue he wrote about, he would see historically there is an answer that is tried and true. Moderation in advancement. Throughout all of modern history man has made strides within the realm of technology, and within each of these eras the most miraculous of these advancements were looked upon as a possible danger; traditionally what one does not understand must be feared. When antibiotics were first introduced it many were skeptical of ingesting some concoction drummed up in a lab that would miraculously eliminate sickness. Should we then take these pills whenever we feel something wrong with us? Additionally many feared the radio when it first gained popularity in the early 20th century, as it was inane to think a person miles away could be heard in your own home. And what else could be possible as a result of such technology, could they unbeknownst to us allow others to hear us too? Will this advancement eliminate the need for the printed word now that we can hear news and stories at any time any place? These technological and societal advancements, just like the Internet today, do provide more questions and unknown fears than straight up answers. Yet how were these fears and questions quelled? Through moderation of these advancements and by not relying completely upon them. We now know that antibiotics and radio, while perhaps worrisome at first, ended up being significantly beneficial. The fears associated with the radio and the medication, while warranted at the time, ultimately were handled by moderate use of both. The radio did not take over society; it did not become the only form of communication. Antibiotics like penicillin were not this inexplicable cure-all that could be taken at anytime for everything. The same can be said for the 21st century with the Internet, it does not have to turn us into robots that no longer have any ‘human elements’. If we as Internet users use the source in moderation and understand it, we will be fine. Not relying on the Internet for all information and for all communication and entertainment while also understanding its benefits to us as a race will result in a safe and secure future. For the rest of human existence miraculous inventions will be created and people will fear what they may become or what they may lead to; this is expected. However, when we take a step back, look at what is before us and figure out the proper way to utilize and handle this new advancement, our society will not collapse, just as it hasn’t for generations past when they came across a technology we now look at as benign and common place.
Technogical should be a little easier to understand than this.