Transparency isn’t the norm of today- but could it be the future coming for the next generation? Is it inevitable, or should we crush it while (if?) we can? Uncomfortable questions we all have to ask ourselves now or we run the risk of the decision being made for us.
Social Media – Friend Or Foe?
Before my father had a smartphone, I tried to explain social media to him, and the pressures that went along with “being online.” I either didn’t explain it well, or he was never going to get it short of immersion. Fast forward several years, he is like a well-trained dog with a bell. Cell phone buzzes, mid-conversation or not, he is all phone.
How could such a flip be possible in such a short amount of time?
Social Media (platforms and services) are a beast of their own, with a mind of their own. In the early days of the internet, was such a feature planned for, or did Social Media evolve of its own volition out of the inevitable spread of the world wide web? As a millennial born in 1990 I essentially grew up with the internet, cell phones, and social media. The late ’80s and early ’90s grew up on the precipice of the future while saying adieu to the virtues of the past.
Time out-of-doors was replaced with ‘screen time’. Baseball cards were given up for “Superlatives” on Facebook (remember way back in the early days of development when they featured basic ‘games’? ‘Buy Your Friend,’ ‘games’ like that- doesn’t everyone miss being ‘bought’ for fun? eh…) Sleepovers were exchanged for Facetime. Instead of buying coffee for a friend, you send them an emoji on Venmo. Social Media comes in many forms and fashions. Is it a natural step in evolution, or is it something to be afraid of?
“Total Transparency” – A Future We Must Accept, Or A Fear To Be Fought?
Movies like the cult favorite, “The Circle,” featuring award-winning (and childhood favorite) Emma Watson, espouse “ total transparency.” In this Universe, the process of being filmed, Followed, and commented on by anyone and everyone, from wake up to shut-eye, is called going ‘Totally Transparent.’ If you are like me your skin might have just started crawling. I’ll admit, I love Emma Watson (I once thought I served her table in Maine, and I geeked out like a nerd at Comicon- I didn’t know it was possible)- but “The Circle” made me uncomfortable.
The famous (infamous) book by George Orwell, “1984”, written in the late ’40s, and well before many of the modern-day versions of the primitive make-believe versions of the fictitious world of Big Brother. Yet, as sci-fi as “Big Brother” may have seemed for decades after it was written; we are very much in a world that could implement the days of beginning monitored- everywhere we go. Modern classics like “The Circle” sure seem to indicate that is the direction we are headed. Is this because of, or despite Social Media? Should we embrace transparency or be repulsed by it? What would the government be like if politicians had to be ‘fully transparent?’
Technology Is Here To Stay – What’s The Alternative?
The 21st Century has seen incredible advancement (albeit 80% of our current technology is due to the hidden genius, Nicola Tesla, of more than 100 years ago)- is it natural and inevitable? Or is it toxic and should be avoided?
It almost doesn’t matter- it is here now. Doesn’t that make it ‘natural’ to some degree? Whether it is ‘inevitable’ or not is another matter, but does it matter? Technology- the internet, electronics, global awareness of what’s possible- is here now. Toxic? Technology, government, & guns are all alike- they are neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’ (I’d be open to discuss those terms further in another blog- I’m a firm believer that words matter), but rather open to interpretation from the one wielding it. The most toxic part of any of those 3 aforementioned subjects is the actual discussion of any of them in an intellectual forum. What’s truly inevitable is that someone will end up feeling slighted.
Energy, electricity, electronics- we are aware of them, we have adapted with them, simply put, we as humans have come to depend on them. Whether or not there is a time stream where we don’t do these things only has room in fantasy novels. If we were to have a worldwide EMP (Electronic Magnetic Pulse)- whether accidentally, manmade, or an attack from extra-terrestrials. As long as the humans alive today were around tomorrow- we would strive to bring back ‘technology’ as we remembered it.
Furthermore, I believe as long as literature, manuscripts, manuals, and digital records remain of what we once achieved- whether in 100 years or 10,000 years- humanity would try to reclaim what was lost and would continue to strive for more.
World Wide Web Code Of Ethics – A Global Constitution For The Internet?
Never before have decisions had to be made on a global level like they are today. Come November, the entire world will be watching the United States Of America as we ‘elect’ who our President will be. Nothing on this magnitude will have ever happened before. 1.9 Billion people turned up or tuned in to see ‘The Royal Wedding,’ but I am predicting that will shy in comparison to the amount that will be watching come election day here in the US.
It used to be in the past if you committed a crime in New York but fled to Florida unless the crime was big enough and worthy of financial investment- the crime went unpunished. We don’t have those freedoms available to us anymore. What happens if someone in Tennessee screws me over up here in Maine- but it is all done online? Do we have the precedence or legal laws written up to uphold anything, one way or another?
Taking that further, what happens if someone in America screws over someone from Pakistan? Who makes the laws, who upholds them? Where do profits from the fines go, what is the punishment? I am afraid that if We The People Of The World do not band together and discuss this amongst ourselves and come up with a ‘World Wide Web Code Of Ethics’ or ‘A Global Constitution For The Internet,’ then the Corporations Of The World, acting ‘as’ humans, will decide for us. We might just wish for an AI-geddon at that point.
Minimally, We Must Decide Something
The days of slowly making calculated and thought through answers might be over. Whether we like it or not, ‘The New York Minute’ has been replaced by what one might call ‘A Digital Second.’ Anyone that has worked on website design or management will understand the importance of one too many seconds. To the human perception, a second is a minutia barely worth arguing over. To artificial intelligence and digital equipment of all kinds, one second might make or break first page rankings within search engines.
This article is by no means exhaustive- to think over the complexities of the internet and social media etiquette would take a whole field of researchers and legal consultants of varying fields. I would argue that the Internet Code Of Ethics could be the next big Council of Jamnia or Council of Nicea when the Christian Bible was canonized by 300 old men half a world away from where events allegedly took place.
No longer will history be lost to the annals of time- once digital- information can be saved forever. Memory chips are made out of silicone, mother earth is 25% silicone, could she just be a large memory vessel? Regardless, our futures are being decided around us “In A Digital Second”- are you going to help mold what’s to come, or be molded?
“Curiosity killed the cat,” how many grew up hearing that. I would be wealthy already if I had a buck for every time I heard that in my life. The little known ending to the quote is, “Satisfaction Brought ‘Em Back.”
I’m on a personal journey and I ask a lot of questions. This is just a small sample of a much larger project I have in mind. I would love Comments from the Community- do any of these questions resonate with you? Or do you have a simple answer to any or all of the problems presented? I would love to hear your feedback, drop it below!