The computer keyboard to writing is much like the piano keyboard to music; the nuance and delicacy of word creation is largely disregarded in favour of brute binary. The first matter of importance is if the key has been pressed.
This metaphor, although a simplification, represents most of my opinions about the effects of typewritten, technologically broadcasted personal narratives: they’re unmusical and oversimplified. This week’s readings wrestled with the idea of privacy.
The nature of Facebook and social technologies like it allow for a sort of soapbox; constant forum and discussion. In some ways, this is positive; even Margaret Atwood called Twitter a catalyst for increased millennial literacy. Yet, the nuance and musicality of self-reflection is lost. The tendency is to constantly simplify one’s inner feelings for public consumption can become problematic, especially if simplification extends to misrepresentation. Constant external gaze can interfere with authentic self-actualization. This performance can become a dangerous positive feedback loop, damaging the self worth of viewers and instigating them to misrepresent their lives more dramatically or positively, damaging the self worth of other viewers. This cycle is further amplified by the Western liberal value of individual self-improvement. Our selves, and our self-development, should shape our public output, not vice versa.
The extent to which our relationship with technologies now shapes our selves have prompted the theory of “posthumanism”. Reading Hayles’ introduction made me feel extremely strange as a cyber addict. I am constantly on Facebook; it’s rare for me to be offline. I am connected, at any time, to at least three web apps; I’m always either ‘hooked up’ to 3G or wifi. I can only imagine how much data is collected about me daily. A question was posed by a
I attended the Organizing Equality the weekend of this reading. Digital technologies were the focus of many activist strategy sessions; anonymity and freedom from ‘disembodiment from data’, as it were, was of utmost importance to their work. If ordinary citizens do not advocate for the protection of their data and privacy, we are failing to protect those who need privacy for the work that they do. We fail to protect “freedom fighters” when we agree – or do not care enough to disagree – to give up our privacy to protect our nations from “terrorists”. These dualisms – “surveillance” and “transparency”, “safety” and “entrapment”, “data” and “body” – are confusing and need to be more publicly discussed and debated. It is my belief that there is inherent value in privacy; the existence of individual stakeholders make for a system that is accountable on both sides, that is balanced and at least partially free. We must fight to keep information close to our bodies, to keep it attached to our bodies, to own our own bodies, to protect human freedoms.