Sunday, November 15, 2015

Our Wired Lives on Facebook Series: #4 Be Your Real Self Online and Off

Currently I’m reading Randi Zuckerberg’s book Dot Complicated: Untangled Our Wired Lives (Harper-Collins Publishers, 2013). As a conclusion of oneself identity online and offline, she concluded:

“As is the case with any technology or tool, it’s up to people to make the most out of the tech, to utilize it in a way that enhances their lives and relationships instead of detracts from them. Technology can make our lives more interesting, but it’s not going to solve all our problems, and as we’ve seen, it will probably even create a few.
            It’s a common complaint that people are beginning to see the world only through the lenses of their camera phones, as if those screens were more “real.” At concerts, I’ve seen well-meaning souls watch an entire show play out on the shaky screens they’re holding above their heads, rather than the stage in front of them. I’ve seen people so busy Instagramming a moment that they miss truly experiencing it.
            Keep in mind that an Internet with real identities and standard practices of behaviour doesn’t have to be a boring place or a police state. It just needs to mirror how you’d behave in a similar situation offline. If you’re at your parents’ house for Thanksgiving, it’s generally inappropriate to down a row of tequila shots, slap your parents’ friend on the back, and yell, ‘Woooo! Spring break!’ Of course, if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving in Cancun and crazy Uncle Al is in an especially ‘festive’ spirit, then by all means woooo away. A call for mindfulness, compassion, and etiquette online, which mirrors the standards expected of us in civil society, is not a call for a woooo-free world. The point is that as our online lives have become inseparable from our offline lives, we need a set of rules, taboos, and guidelines that recognizes there are real people using their real identities on the other side of the screen.
            Some things are cool on spring break that are not cool on Thanksgiving Day. There may be some awful places on the Internet, which don’t deserve a mention here. You may see some things you don’t want to see, things for which your retinas will never forgive you and that may be acceptable only in those contexts, within of course the bounds of legality. But that doesn’t mean there are no standards of behaviour to be had anywhere online.
            We have to get smarter not only about that we publish but also about what we, as the recipients of our friends’ information, do with potentially sensitive material posted by others.
            Above all, you need to be careful who you choose as your friends, whether offline or online. As my Christmas Poke photo story shows, there’s no privacy or security setting in the world that can save you from a friend’s bad judgment.
            We can be our real selves online and off. We don’t have to be afraid to share. It doesn’t have to be so complicated. And we can leverage technology in many positive ways to make a real and meaningful impact on the world.
            We are truly the most empowered generation in history. Technology allows us to communicate, collaborate, and understand the world around us in ways unthinkable even a few years ago, with this new power, we can solve age-old problems and create new opportunities for everyone.
            All you have to do is to be yourself.
[Long excerpt from Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives by Randi Zuckerberg (Harper-Collins Publishers, 2013), page 82-83. Buy this book!]

Let technology supposed to help us, not lord it over us.
Let technology fill our lives with meaning, rather than fear.
Let technology empowered us, rather than overwhelmed us.
Let technology become tools of opportunity to glorify God in everything,
rather than promote insecurity.

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