Technology makes it super easy to share, share, and share some more. The definitions of privacy, intimacy, and display vary from person to person and their uses of the Internet. As one of the readings mentions, an older generation of people might feel the younger generation shares too much. And within the younger generation, there are numerous interpretations of each of these things; in no way is the entire young population homogenous.
One teenager might feel it’s fine to take promiscuous photos of him/herself and share with a significant other, knowing those images can never ever be fully taken back. Another teenager might never even consider doing that. I think some people may have a misunderstanding that the outlets they choose to share on are private. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to screenshot and save someone’s privately shared image or message to store away for some future twisted blackmail if needed.
Apart from things that are breaches of a person’s privacy, users can take advantage of being cloaked by a screen and spew lies across the Internet for attention. This came as a shock to me when reading Cienna Madrid’s “The Lying Disease” because of the very specific Internet niche people lied in to get attention—online medical support groups. I can understand trolls in games and YouTube comments, being obnoxious and generally smh-worthy human beings, but to fake fatal illnesses…this was all unexpected. While we may all be a little guilty in highlighting only the best things about ourselves on things like our Facebook profiles and Instagram selfies, to create entire traumatic experiences for attention is a whole other story.
A couple weeks ago, a few prominent YouTube stars were outed for sexual abuse. Story after story surfaced in the form of Tumblr posts, starting with one published by an ex-girlfriend, who accused a star of different types of sexual abuse. After reading her posts, other fans found the courage to speak out against YouTubers who manipulated them as well. While many of these posts were confirmed to be true, some fake posts popped up too, accusing other YouTubers who were presumed completely innocent and not involved in any of these negative ordeals.
However, along with the greater concern that came out of these authentic posts about the YouTube creator and fan relationship, the false accusations reminded me of what happened with Valerie and the frauds she came across in her online support groups. After seeing the attention some Tumblr posts were getting through accusing YouTube stars of sexual assault, more than one person felt the need to make something up completely for whatever reason—be it to make a star look bad, get attention for themselves or whatever else. They wrote details about a fake abuse they imagined in their heads, which not only hurts reputations but it makes light of the very real abuse problems that were finally getting deserved attention. Similarly, the people who faked illnesses, rapes, and suicidal thoughts made light of the real problems people need to deal with every day in order to survive…and that’s not okay.
Whether in the actual game Second Life or not, people tend to have a second life online via their social media presence on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and more. On these platforms, people have a right to choose how self-representative they want to be, but when this right turns into downright lies and degradation of others, the privilege to hide privately behind a screen should not be a tolerated excuse.