I remember when I first started using the Internet - it was one of the most bizarre things I had ever seen! I could talk in chat rooms with people I had never met, instant message with my friends who were at their computers, and search for information. The proliferation of technology is great. As Rheingold notes in “Smart Mobs: The Power of the Mobile Many”. In 2001, the President of the Philippines lost power. 1 million people mobilized, coordinating a swarm through text messages. Little did I know, that was only the beginning of the capabilities technology and the Internet would offer the world. In "Cyberspace", Woolley notes that geography is irrelevant when it comes to communicating over the web. The "global village" image he creates becomes more fascinating and less far-fetched everyday. People participate in role-playing games, blog, discuss issues in on-line forums, and even create virtual identities.
In "Identity Crisis", Turkle says that creating an online persona allows people to get in touch with their self in real life. The whole idea may seem strange, but many people embrace the idea of creating a "home page" of virtual objects that represent their interests. While many people feel more comfortable being themselves in the virtual world, others use this technology to act as a completely different person. Although cyberspace presents people with an array of possibilities, the Internet is not a carefree world where everyone gets along and chitchats about the weather. Several of the articles we read focus on the negative ways in which people may use the Internet without regards to morals or values. In “Stalking the UFO Meme”, Thieme highlights the uncertainty of information people place on the Internet. What can you believe?
Look, for example, at juicycampus.com. People can anonymously post anything they want, about whomever they choose, whether the gossip is true or false. People can post a lie about someone they do not get along with, and the following day everyone on campus may believe it is a valid statement. People often hide behind the computer in order do something they know is wrong in the actual world. From sending “hot” emails to someone other than your spouse, as in the Van Buren article, to committing crimes that Barlow and Kelley focus on, such as hacking into files and downloading music, there is much to say about what is right and what necessitates punishment.
Cyberpunks, as Leary calls them, “are all those who boldly package and steer ideas out there where no thoughts have gone before” (CyberReader 77). They introduce all of these high-tech capabilities that are shaping who we are and how we communicate. We are left to consider the extent to which we involve ourselves, and our values, in technology. What if I was to create a fake livejournal and document the life of someone who does not even exist? Would I feel guilty about lying to my on-line friends? What about hacking and file-sharing? If nothing prevents me from doing it, am I in the wrong?
- Current Mood: mischievous