Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Internet Is Kind of Weird! Pt.1: Or Is It?

This could end up being a series, because the Internet is kind of weird, yo. I was just thinking about this.

I don't think human beings have changed, you know? Except maybe they have! Because all of this self-surveillance is bound to have some effect. Who ten, twenty years ago would be narcissistic enough to sit in front of a video camera, ramble and mug through twenty minutes of video and then put it out for public viewing? Only a select few involved in local community television, that's who. And what about all these phones? I mean, camera-phones, video-phones, you know? We're living in a state of constant surveillance, from our friends, our selves, our "social network," and we pretty much love it! Is this wrong? Is any of this wrong? Am I complaining? Heck, I'm not complaining. I'm not saying it's wrong, but it does seem kind of weird. Doesn't it?

Like it all just happened, somehow. Technology's not a democracy, folks! Nobody decided we wanted it, but people around us started adopting these little new tools as they came out. Started doing it because they could do it: "Ooh look! New! Cool!" And we all started ending up in these pictures and videos, progressively drawn into all these circles, and what could we say? We couldn't come up with any real objection to it. "Hey, that's rude, quit it!" Was it ever rude before, to be in someone's frame during a candid photo snap? It only seems different now because everyone is equipped to provide full coverage of each others' lives. And without warning, we do!

And of course as a given type of exposure becomes prevalent, some of us holdouts say "Hey, maybe I should try." Vlogging, or homemade porn or whatever - prevalent just comes to seem normal.

Speaking of homemade porn, shifts in attitudes towards sex shame and body shame need to be their own post. That's too hot a topic! But Sex is only one of the areas were it appears the Internet is either weirding human behavioral norms, or normalizing human behavioral weirds, whichever the case may be. People today either are already or seem to be becoming showoffs in all aspects, showoffs of every human behavior, on the internet. Did the internet cause this, or was it simply the lack of easy opportunity that prevented us from naturally being this way all along?

In the old days of messageboards and written-word bloggers (hi there!) the theory was that "the anonymity of the Internet" freed people to be uninhibited. That because people couldn't tell who you really were, you could be who you really were - or experiment with other personae. But does this still wash today? Is it still anonymity when your face is visible? When your face is out there on Friendbook, mouthing off to people at least some of whom know you, uninhibited as you please? Is it still anonymity when you're V-logging on U-tube in your favorite t-shirt, laying out all your most strident political or comic book views? Is it still anonymity with a dick in your mouth? That's not very anonymous. Maybe for the person whose face is out of frame, it is. Perhaps it is the anonymity of "everyone's doing it," or at least, the anonymity of "so many normal-looking people are doing it," that it seems normal.

The anonymity of conformity with perceived norms.

These norm-shifts all happened so fast, we could say. But not really. They all happened in tiny, harmless, incremental steps that just kept coming. Change was slow, each little step probably unnoticeable, or only the tiniest bit jarring, none on its own was cause to sound an alarm. Technology, and the practices it enabled, outdistanced etiquette - not in an eyeblink, but in-between everyone's eyeblinks, over years.

This is not an essay, by the way. It's totally rambling. Who ten, twenty years ago would put something like this up, for others "to read" (ostensibly)?


Mel said...

Somewhat related - but not really – coz that’s how I roll, I heard recently that most men now can’t engage in watching footy with their friends unless they are participating in online betting via their “smart” phones at the same time. This is quite a recent and rapid phenomenon. They had to rush in new legislation just this week here to try to limit when advertising for online betting would be allowed. The consensus seems to be the legislation is weak as water. It makes me so sad to think of business taking advantage of new technology and turning something that was so fundamentally non-businessy into a commercial activity. And it’s all so easy to do to us we don’t even notice what’s been taken from us. Or we’re just not bothered.

dogimo said...

I can't stand betting on stuff to make it interesting. A MAN WHO CAN'T FIND FOOTY INTERESTING WITHOUT TAKING A WAGER ON IT IS NO MAN!

dogimo said...

Also, calling it "footy" is just kind of fun and offbeat! It makes me think you're talking about footsy, which - A MAN WHO CAN'T FIND FOOTSY INTERESTING WITHOUT TAKING A WAGER ON IT IS NO MAN