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What would the world be like without technology? How would it function? From cars to solar powered energy, technology is steadily making the world a more efficient place. But to every “Yang” there is a “Yin,” to very “pro” there is a “con,” and technology in the hands of the wrong people can go from ridiculous to dangerous. Technology has advanced western societies but has also brought loads of shame to many people; through the use of technology people daily expose themselves and intimate parts of their lives. Young people, and even adults (from generations past which were more accustomed to maintaining privacy) have begun conforming to habits of oversharing. Technology has inimically changed society’s views on privacy; and despite potential dangers, has changed the definition of what is acceptable and unacceptable to share with others.
In a world full of technology, people are now becoming more willing to share unimaginable sorts of information through social media, online games, and apps. Any regular user of social media platforms can attest to the fact that there are many people on the worldwide web prone to posting even the most private details about their lives on their social media accounts. Social media rants are common place now as people tell their online friends how they feel emotionally, politically and spiritually; many are willing to share information with online communities that they would never even share with their family members. Thousands of unnecessary, uncomfortable and unwise posts made every day on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. People of all ages even venture into the world of online dating wherein they often post very personal information into bios for a sea of potential suitors to read, send extremely private images to strangers, give away their personal phone numbers. Carelessly people share exclusive aspects of their lives with strangers who could turn out to be hackers, cat-fishers or dangerous criminals. In comparison, a large number of young people spend countless hours playing online games against strangers, and chatting them as if they were writing in a diary. Beside the fact that they converse with people they do not know, many are willing to give up personal information such as an address, email account, credit card number or PayPal account just to play a game without having to deal with ads.
Everyday thousands of people download apps onto their computers and cellular devices, even though many of these apps want connection to and maintain control over device cameras, social media accounts, pictures, and documents. In their article, “Smartphone Spying Reality Check: Yes, Your Smartphone is Spying on You. The Real Question is, Should You Care?,” Ian Paul and Brent Rose inform their readers that many apps are in fact tracking users, eve-dropping on them and selling their information to third parties. Many of these social and technological platforms do state the rights they intend to take from users but these statements are often hidden inside of “terms of agreement,” which few read. Equally as frustrating is the fact that return for full access to social and technological platforms, private information is often forced out of customers. Since most apps and websites tend to require personal information, most people think nothing of it, it seems normal to give away private information and few contemplate the fact that behind the alluring technological attractions, there are scary realities concerning how these platforms operate. Sadly, in today’s society no one seems to care about this; people will gladly give away the keys to their privacy just to play a game, join a website or bank online. Each platform used conditions the user to believe they have no choice but to give away personal data and over time, people become used to releasing the same details to difference platforms. Whether it is giving a home address to a random sweepstakes site or telling Facebook how they really feel, people are constantly giving information away online with less and less reservation.
With the common trend of oversharing online, many are now willing to share private details with strangers because they are so used to releasing information about themselves. Daily customers are asked for their email addresses when they go shopping and willingly they give it away without a second thought. Thousands of people purchase store credit cards without the realization that these companies are willing to share data with other companies for a profit. People vent to strangers about the issues in their homes, or how horrible their day has been and it is all because they feel like they will never see that person again, so why should it matter? This behavior is almost identical to the behavior displayed online, wherein people post personal information because they do not see the other individuals reading their posts; to them, the readers seem almost unreal, so why should they care? Stephen Winzenburg talks about the behavior of oversharing in action as he recounts many of the interesting happenings that he has encountered as a college professor. In his article, “In the Facebook Era, Students Tell You Everything”, he writes, “The impact of Facebook on the college classroom goes far beyond technological innovations and the ability to build relationships. It has led young people to publicly announce intimate personal details without thought of the consequences. And that style of communication has led to some very uncomfortable encounters between students and their professors. The first time it happened to me, the student’s words came so quickly that I didn’t have time to think about my reaction. A young woman approached me in the hall with a smile on her face, and said, “I won’t be in class next week because I have to terminate a pregnancy’” (Winzenburg). This may seem like one isolated and extreme incident but Winzenburg’s entire article is filled with stories just as, if not more shocking that this one. To be honest this behavior can often be seen (and heard) in public places, most people have probably encountered a stranger that they at least overheard spilling the private details of their lives as some sort of excuse or for an emotional or even psychological release. Without hesitation people abruptly begin to discuss their psychological state of mind, finances, family members or even their political views with people they do not know at all or barely know. Technology has surely encouraged this behavior; social media platforms ask their users to post what they are thinking and they send emails and notifications practically begging users to be active in keeping their “followers” or “friends” up to date on their lives. Through social media and other technological programs, the routine of allocating confidential details has begun to creep into the everyday lives of people young and old.
However innocent it may seem, oversharing can result in something has extreme as the compromising safety or loss credibility. The wrong posts make online can prove to be downright dangerous to the individual partaking in such practices. Through social media platforms, ill-meaning miscreants can track the movements of others by monitoring users that often post their locations publicly online. People have been stalked, sexually and physically abused, and even murdered because of carelessness concerning online activities. Concerning credibility; if it is lost, the personal image of the person may become skewed, this can result in the loss of a job or an important opportunity. Oftentimes, people spread their own confidentialities arbitrarily with other people because of a mindset that is often encouraged on social media platforms. This mindset is rooted in the ideology that there have nothing to hide but Bob Sullivan makes a valid point about the perils of this mindset. He states, “…there is abundant evidence that people live their lives ignorant of the monitoring, assuming a mythical level of privacy. People write e-mails and type instant messages they never expect anyone to see. Just ask Mark Foley or even Bill Gates, whose e-mails were a cornerstone of the Justice Department’s antitrust case against Microsoft…Nor do college students heed warnings that their MySpace pages laden with fraternity party photos might one day cost them a job. The roster of people who can’t be Googled shrinks every day. And polls and studies have repeatedly shown that Americans are indifferent to privacy concerns. The general defense for such indifference is summed up a single phrase: ‘I have nothing to hide’” (Sullivan). The mindset that the individual has nothing to hide is dangerous; equally as dangerous is the idea that no one is watching; both mindsets can prove to be detrimental to careless people. Not enough people know that they are being watched online and in person by the companies they work for, the colleges they want to attend and even the people they associate with. No company, college or ambitious person wants to associate themselves with someone degrading and if people present themselves in that way, they are liable to be dropped by their associates. CNN made a most about ten cases wherein people lost their jobs due to sexual, rude or even innocent yet inappropriate posts on social media. Many people do not realize the detriment that came be caused by posting the wrong thing online or telling the wrong person the wrong thing.
Technology has changed the world in many ways; some of those ways have proven themselves to be quite helpful but the more technology has emerged, the more people have changed as a result. As people begin to share of themselves through technological devices, many fail to realize that they things they share can be used against them; what they allow the world to know can make or break their careers, their families or even the entirety of their lives. As people expose themselves, and oftentimes others as well, they risk putting themselves in dangerous and uncomfortable positions. People are becoming bolder and more carefree about what they allow the world to see but perhaps a bit of caution would be wise to use for the sake of reputation, safety, other people, and opportunities. Perhaps people should think twice about what they share publicly.
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