Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Secret Life of Us – Where Has It Gone?

A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD girl is tragically killed in a traffic accident and some of the family learn the heartbreaking news even before authorities notify them—it was posted on Facebook. And if not Facebook, it’ll be a mobile text, a tweet or some other ‘almost instant’ medium these days. How much more impersonal could it get than for a mother or father to learn of their daughter’s death over Facebook?

For all the benefit we all derive from technology, there are some pitfalls. As a society, one-upon-a-time we didn’t have these problems of instant messaging like we do now. Yet, it’s not really the technology’s fault—it’s only a tool after all!

The matter of posting time-critical information on the internet circumventing the normal processes the Police would take is one of moral respect—a lesson the whole world won’t learn easily. Technology has been shown, as it would’ve in any event, to outstrip us morally—in other words, it’s carrying us beyond what we can morally handle.

But this ‘carrying beyond’ process is okay; we could benefit, eventually. We could actually become more rational in realising the potential harm of our actions in the misuse of technology and be more wary—perhaps it’s an overly optimistic view? A more realistic view is that control might be established legislatively—if the problem proves threatening enough.

But there’s a bigger issue than this. The price we’ve traditionally paid for our privacy has now paled into insignificance in some ways with the advent of technology—especially regarding the social networking sites. We play with fire and at times some of us get the ends of our fingers burned.

Isn’t it ironic that in a post-privacy-legislated day many of us routinely flaunt our privacy, knowingly for all to see? Yet, our motives are different. But, the tool remains the same—no matter the motivation, the end result is quick and the process is accommodating.

Buyer beware: the technology bites!

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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