The increasing power of technology continues to improve our day to day lives in various aspects. Our cell phones now act as miniature computers to help provide you with G.P.S. for lengthy car rides, apps for enjoyment and business, as well as various social media streams which allow us to connect with the vastness of the internet. Although at first it seems as though all of these would be positives when discussing the power of cyberspace, as Sherry Turkle sees it, this is becoming a large problem that our generation must face in order to save human relationships. Sherry states in her New York Times article from 2012 “One sees the same thing: we are together, but each of us in our own bubble, furiously connected to keyboards and tiny touch screens. ” It has escalated to the point where young people growing up do not know the proper way to communicate with one another face to face, as Sherry states in the same New York Times article “A 16-year-old boy who relies on texting for almost everything says almost wistfully, Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.” This is the increasing issue with technology, and it stems mainly from the growth in social media over the past 5-10 years.
Social media is a way people can stay connected to the globe without having to look further than the apps on their phone. Famous social media sites include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram among many more. The issue regarding social media/cyberspace stems further than just the loss of proper communication, but also creates a lack of privacy for individuals who use them. Although social media has only expanded vastly just recently, it follows a platform which has made cyberspace so popular since its arrival. As She stated in a journal review in 1999 for Contemporary Sociology, long before the emergence of social media, “One key element of online life and its impact on identity: the creation and projection of constructed personae into virtual space.” This seems as though she was almost predicting the possible emergence of social media, but at the time this journal article was written, she was referring to chat-rooms and other platforms of that nature. The problem arising is that these individuals are so focused on their virtual personae, they do not realize the loss of privacy they are encountering. The more information uploaded to an individuals virtual personae, the more their own privacy is threatened. The reason people are so intertwined with social media is because it “gives us the illusion of friendship, without the demands of companionship.” Sherry Turkle hits it right on the head with that last quote from TED2012, people will trade their lack of privacy, for the feeling of friendship they encounter in cyberspace constantly.
Having heard much from Sherry Turkle and her vision of cyberspace and the problems it creates, I’d like to now share my own personal beliefs on how to avoid disrupting your privacy while maintaining key online friendships which people desire. Firstly, there must be a balance of public, private and personal in relation to social media. My personal relationships stay personal, I never advertise personal encounters, share plans with social media or provide my location. Information I share with the public on social media sites is simple information of very little importance such as opinions on sports, movies, music or other events that have occurred. Neither of these involve sharing personal or private information, but rather just generic opinions. When presenting myself on social media, I use as little information as possible. I never provide my full name, never have a display picture of myself, and post no information in my bio regarding who I am. I enjoy staying anonymous, with only close personal friends knowing who the twitter account belongs to. This relates back to Turkle’s argument from 1999 where she states “one has the choice of being known only by one’s chosen “handle” this is how I choose to present myself. The reason why I am so secretive with my identity on social media is the fact that these sites are under constant surveillance. The fact that the information I post is free for anyone to view and interpret, causes me to be very hesitant to post anything which could shatter my image.
To conclude, the internet has provided the world with great tools to stay in touch with one another, and has the power to make such a vast globe seem so small. Although there are many positives, it is important to understand the harm cyberspace, in particular social media, can cause. The decaying of face to face communication is becoming increasingly harmful to our society, and therefore I place importance on keeping personal relationships private and personal, not on the internet for all to see, but regularly meeting with friends and family to engage socially in person. In addition, the invasion of privacy associated with social media sites leads me to keep information I post as vague as possible, keeping personal information to myself, and sharing only basic views and opinions on leisure matters such as sports, music and movies. I think people are getting too comfortable with social media sites, posting way too much information and in turn severely decreasing their privacy.
Thank-You for Reading.
Turkle, S. (1999). Looking Toward Cyberspace: Beyond Grounded Sociology. Contemporary Sociology, 28(6), 643-648.
Turkle, Sherry. (2012). “The Flight from Conversation” in The New York Times. pp. SR1