Hello world!

by librarianincognita ~ July 12th, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Reflections.

Hi! I’m Felicia, an MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science) student at the University of British Columbia. This blog was created for the class LIBR559m which deals with social media and information professionals. You can read more about my personal self in the about page.

Since this blog is primarily about social media, I would like to start by sharing my own personal experience with it. I started blogging since 2002 which is almost 10 years ago. In those early days, it was often an avenue of self validation. It was wonderful to be able to share one’s thoughts about something that happened and have people respond – my young adult self found it wonderfully assuring. Privacy meant very little then though I was conscious about not making disparaging remarks about others. As I grew older, I found that I did not relish the thought of people I was unfamiliar reading my blog which resulted in the move to private blogs. That caused readership to drop. People could not see it in their RSS feed and most found it a hassle to log in. When readership dropped, I felt less inclined to post anything. These days, I just use Facebook.

I realised then that blogs are written to be read, they are not personal diaries or a place to write long academic papers (as a friend of mine used to do) unless readership means nothing to the blogger which then begs the question of “why publish it?” It’s a wonderful tool when used correctly but many have run into problems like school teacher Natalie Munroe who got flagged for insulting her students on her blog (see article here).  I also realised that issues of privacy matter more the older you grow. Blogging did not happen in my early teenage years so I did not have a whole lot of “floating information” to delete and even then, erasing that footprint was difficult. I wonder about the children and teenagers of today who would have started at a younger age. By the time privacy matters to them, would it be too late for them to remove their digital footprint?

9 Responses to Hello world!

  1.   rachelbalko

    Felicia, I share your concern about young people not understanding that the Internet is FOREVER and that something foolish they put online in their youth could having long-lasting consequences. I hope that the media reports of underage sexting, etc., are overblown. I worry about a teenage girl taking a sexy photo of herself, sending it to her boyfriend, who then sends it to his friends, until it eventually ends up in a Google image search for “barely legal teens,” being downloaded by anyone who wants it, and possibly turning up to haunt her later in life if she wants to be a teacher, a politician, a judge, etc. A friend of mine posits that nude photos on the Internet will be, in 20 years, what admissions of smoking marijuana in college are today – wholly damning, then shocking, then forgivable, then “oh sure, everybody does that.” He may be right, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

  2.   librarianincognita

    Hey Rachel, I wonder about the same thing! Maybe some of these privacy issues will become non-issues because hey, everyone’s got skeletons in the closet. But like you said, I’m not sure that’s a good thing but maybe the terms of the world would have changed by them. Who knows.

  3.   lynnpyke

    This is also something I consider and discuss with various professionals. The general consensus I find is that as more digital natives, or people who have used social media like facebook from a younger age move into positions of management and power, having less than positive pictures or information about yourself online from your younger or even recent years will be less and less important. It will be less important because it will be so very common.
    On the other hand, other sources of information will become more important. Working with the RCMP I have seen the increase in the number of jobs and volunteer positions that require a criminal records check. But like many complex information systems, many managers asking for the CRC don’t totally understand the the information they are getting back.

  4.   adejesus

    As I get older, I actually care about privacy less and less. Part of this is gaining a realistic view of my place in the world: no one cares what I do (not really). At this point, I have no doubts that more than a few people have indiscreet pictures of me. Is it possible they will come back and bite me in the bum later? Sure.

    However, for me, it would be refreshing to face personal or professional adversity for something that I’m actually responsible for. I think one of the unexamined issues surrounding privacy is that privacy is a privilege that not everyone shares. Being mixed racial, people think it is entirely appropriate to constantly and continuously interrogate me about my race and ethnicity. And this is information they feel perfectly entitled to (and get irate if I feel my private information should remain private).

    Last, I’d tend to disagree with both you. It would (and will) be a good thing for things like nude photos to be commonplace and entirely boring. People, generally, need to stop being persecuted/oppressed based on entirely natural and normal sexual behaviour or activities.

  5.   squirrelbreath

    Lynn, that’s something I’ve wondered about as well, especially given the recent Facebook ‘outings’ of individuals who participated, in varying degree, in the Stanley Cup riot. Fresh after it happened the news was quick to pick up on individuals who were fired from jobs, banned from organizations, and expelled from school for getting caught on camera in the thick of it all — or even allegedly claiming that they were participants, even thought they weren’t. I wonder how long the consequences of being photographed and ‘publicly shamed’ on the internet will carry into the future. I understand if an employer may wish to disassociate themselves with someone charged for inciting a riot, especially if they’ve posted their employer’s name on their Facebook page, but do people really care a year from today? In fact, other than the online vigilantes who are scouring Facebook photos to identify rioters, is anyone else actually paying attention, or even care? My guess is that, as awful as the events were, people’s interest in who was involved will fade. But for whatever reason, nudity/sexual imagery will always incite outrage.

  6.   leaedgar

    I have to agree with you all when you say that these might become non-issues in the future. However, I also think it’s dangerous to assume that these things won’t be important in the future, therefore I should not care, because we can’t predict the future and what consequences actions like these will bring.

    I think education for the younger “digital natives” is key here and we as information professionals should help foster the understanding that what is posted online is forever and potentially damning. On that thread, think of all the instances of online bullying and how hurtful it is precisely because “it doesn’t go away”. Social media can be a great tool for having your voice heard, but a personal filter also never hurt! Especially in a professional context (the teacher mentioned above).

    I also wanted to respond to adejesus’s remark about privacy as a privilege. It’s actually considered a legal right in many instances. However, I think the internet in general should be considered a public place, such as the street or a park, and therefore there should not be a reasonable expectation of privacy. Again, it comes down to educating people about these notions.

    So, to lighten the mood, I’ll share a link to comedian Pete Holmes and his take on YouTube comments coming back to haunt you (at about 1:10) http://watch.thecomedynetwork.ca/comedy-central-presents/season-14/comedy-central-presents-pete-holmes/clip271926#clip271926.

    Also, here is his take on Facebook and privacy which I also found pretty funny: http://watch.thecomedynetwork.ca/comedy-central-presents/season-14/comedy-central-presents-pete-holmes/clip271931#clip271931

  7.   librarianincognita

    What a hilarious video! Thanks for sharing!

    I would stand with Lea on the assumptions point. It may come back to haunt us, it may not but it doesn’t hurt to err on the side of caution. Additionally, if it should come to pass in future that privacy is a non-issue, it is still in the future; from now till then, revealing too much online can hurt and hurt badly, from cyber bullying to sheer stupidity like the girl from UCLA who posted a rant on Asians in the library.

    That said, adejesus has a point, not everyone cares about everything that you put up and with digital cameras all around, there are probably photos that you don’t even know have been taken of you. What a thought: fragments of the self floating everywhere, in hard drives of friends and family, on the internet – if someone wanted to dig up dirt, they probably can. Maybe all we can do is hope that no one ever has such a cause to do so.

  8.   kanatakat

    This discussion reminds me of a rather disturbing comment that I heard earlier this year (I think it was during the CBC live coverage of the Canadian election). It was to the effect that digital natives are already saying that they don’t want to get involved in politics when they get older because they are afraid of having old photos and web posts etc. dug up and plastered all over the “mainstream” media. I don’t think all millennials share this view — look at “Jack’s kids” in Quebec, for example — but we’re already alienated enough from our political institutions without having an entire generation feeling that only those who have never partied need apply.

  9.   librarianincognita

    @Chris: It is so funny that you bring this up because it really does happen. In my home country’s election this year, one of my peers ran for elections and it started badly right from the beginning because they dug up all the various facebook photos of her and used these photos to judge her character. I’m wondering what kind of message it sent to our kids.

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