Social Media Users Beware
In her presentation, The Future of Privacy in Social Media, Danah Boyd asserts that the Internet and Social Media is “public by default." She draws an important picture of internet privacy, or lack thereof, that all Social Media users should be aware of. This is especially true of our newest generation, Generation Z, the first Generation to come of age in a world where Social Media has always existed.
As a teacher, I often talk to my students about the ills that could befall them if they post any and every detail about themselves. When Boyd speaks of the young man, Hunter, whose defense (strategy) against others commenting on his posts, posts that were not intended for them, is to basically say that they should know that these posts are not aimed at them and that they should not comment, I almost gagged at his naiveté. Boyd characterizes this strategic defense as being “highly technical.” I don’t really see anything technical about this at all. It is just the Social Media version of telling someone to mind their own business. Yet, it is a sentiment that my own students have echoed many times and, quite frankly, it alarms me.
Teenagers are allowed to harbor an overly idealistic view of the world. They have the liberty to worry about how things should be vs. how they actually are. I certainly did when I was a teenager. I made many statements, particularly in arguments with my father, that embarrass me to no end when I reflect upon them now. The difference is that my naive, overly emotional responses to what I perceived as horrible “injustices” were not preserved for posterity. My rants against the local police force targeting teenage drivers. The fights with my parents over curfew. Teachers assigning homework! None of this exists outside of my, my family’s, or my friends’ memories. This generation, where many post about every life event, no matter how inconsequential, has created a permanent memory book that documents what many consider the most awkward time of their lives: their teenage years. Quite frankly, I am very thankful that Social Media did not exist when I was young. I like Social Media; I use it regularly. But, I feel fortunate that I was an adult, that my judgment was fully mature, when it surfaced.
As always, opinions vary and I would love to hear yours. If you feel compelled, please leave a comment below.
I am a Special Education teacher currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Information & Learning Technologies (Option: K-12) at CU Denver. I work at Boulder High School in Boulder, CO. Here you will find my thoughts on education.