A tale of the internet in 3 parts: part 2

by Lee Hopkins on March 29, 2007

in miscellaneous

Part two

So with that article dealt with, I then read in the glossy magazine that comes with the national newspaper The Weekend Australian an article on Kitty Ostapowicz and her generation, an article that reminds us all that what ‘privacy’ means to us is NOT what ‘privacy’ means to today’s teenagers.

In an article tellingly entitled ,‘Kids, the internet and the end of privacy’, journalist Emily Nussbaum looks at the blushingly honest online lives of several teens, including one who gives investment non-advice based on his own investment failures — bank statements all scanned and posted online for all to see.

“I remember very little from high school, and I’ve always believed that was probably a good thing. Caitlin Oppermann, 17, has spent her adolescence making sure this doesn’t happen to her. At 12 she was blogging; at 14 she was snapping digital photos; at 15 she edited a documentary about her school marching band. But right now she is most excited about her first ‘serious project’, caitlinoppermann.com. On it, she lists her email and instant messaging accounts, complains about the school’s web censors, and provides links to photos and videos. There’s nothing racy, but it’s the type of information-overload that tends to terrify parents.

At 17, Oppermann is conversant with the conventional wisdom about the online world — that it’s a sketchy bus station packed with paedophiles. (In fact, that’s pretty much the standard response I’ve heard from anyone over 39: ‘But what about the perverts?’ For teenagers, who have grown up laughing at porn pop-ups and the occasional instant message from a skeezy stranger, this is about as logical as the question, ‘How can you move to New York? You’ll get mugged!’

Nussbaum ends her article with a question. “The big question for my generation,” she says, “is why would anyone do that?” As she points out, it’s not a meaningful question for a 16 year old. The benefits are obvious: public life is fun, creative, theatrical, communitarian, where one’s friends are; online you have a place to think out loud and be listened to, to meet strangers and go deeper with friends.

Yes, there are downsides, but there are lousy downsides to any major social change (“see feminism, democracy, the creation of the interstate highway system”, says Nussbaum). So Nussbaum ends with the GREAT question: “as with any revolution, which side are you on?”

In my mind the ‘genie is out of the bottle’ and there ain’t no putting it back. Might as well ‘go with the flow, bro’ and embrace the new. If only because ‘the new shameless teenagers’ will be the decision-makers in 10-20 years time.

On to part 3…

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