Marianne Duchane - Manifesto

1. Every state needs specific laws that punish cyber-stalking, cyber-harrassment, and cyber-bullying.

Technology, specifically social media websites and cell phones, allow people to be in almost constant contact with one another. They are causing relationships to change, and not always for the better. The Internet provides a new forum in which people can harm others with their words. Sherry Turkle briefly discusses this in chapter four of Alone Together. “These days, on social networks, we see fights that escalate for no apparent reason except that there is no physical presence to exert a modulating force” (235-236). The Internet provides a safety net from which a bully can project their negative feelings on someone else without having to witness the consequences. While doing research for my study on cyber-bullying, I found that in many famous cases, there were not laws in place to order to properly bring charges against a bully. For example, Lori Drew created a fake MySpace to communicate with her daughter’s former friend, Megan Meier. Meier committed suicide after her relationship with “Josh Evans” turned into Meier receiving only negative taunts and cruel messages. However, prosecutors in Missouri could not pursue charges against Ms. Drew because the state laws on harassment at that time did not address Internet communication. Everyone should be held accountable for their online activity when it qualifies as harassment, stalking, or bullying. Currently, every state has a law that covers as least one of these three actions. I believe it is necessary to have specific laws punishing each of these crimes if they occur on the Internet in order to keep people safe.

References: My Study, New York Times' Article, State Laws

2. The Internet should not be used to trick others into thinking you are someone else.

We have discussed extensively the ways in which people portray themselves online, especially in social media websites. You can be your best self on Facebook, because you are controlling the aspects of life that are available to other people using the site. And now there are many more websites than just Facebook in which to play with your online identity. Eli Pariser states: “Facebook takes you more on your word, presenting you as you’d like to be seen by others…The Facebook portrait remains incomplete” (115). It is completely acceptable to not want to put all your information and every detail of your life online. However, people should actively work to not purposely manipulate others into thinking that they are someone that they are not. Just as I mentioned above, Megan Meier believed she was talking to a sixteen-year-old boy who was interested in getting to know her, when in actuality it was an adult woman with nasty motives. In class, we watched the trailer for the documentary “Catfish.” Although the authenticity of this film as been questioned, it still raises the issues that people that we meet through technology are not always who they claim to be. These people are not simply leaving some personal things off of their Facebook page; they are actively forming an online identity that is completely different from how they are in real life, and not being honest in the relationships they form using this identity.

References: Class discussion, Eli Pariser's The Filter Bubble

3. Meeting someone on an online dating website should be considered a legitimate beginning to a relationship.

Brian Christian discusses online dating in the introduction of The Most Human Human. He discusses a situation in which I have touched on in my previous point: that people you meet online are not always the person you think they are (because they could be a computer program). Despite this, I believe that meeting someone in through an online dating forum is a legitimate way to begin a relationship these days. Websites like eHarmony and match.com allow you to meet people that you may have never met or gotten to know otherwise. I am skeptical of relationships that exist only online where two people never plan on meeting each other in person. It seems potentially harmful to get emotionally invested in someone who you can never see in real life. Jenny’s story of her mother’s online dating adventures showed the class that dating websites want to facilitate relationships in the real world between two people who have their true selves out there on the Internet. They meet in person shortly after their online interactions. Sherry Turkle interviewed a teenager named Hannah in Alone Together, who gives what I believe has insight into things that are necessary in a relationship: “In order to have a genuine relationship, there has to be some point where you’re with your senses, experiencing some output that person’s making with their body, like looking at their face, or hearing their words” (249). Online dating websites want that to eventually happen between two people.

References: Brian Christian’s The Most Human Human, Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together, Team 4 Class Discussion

4. We should stay educated about our right to privacy on the websites that we choose to use.

Our Considered Replies assignment once again brought up the issues of privacy on the Internet. Some of my classmates were discussing the issues of privacy on websites like Facebook, and how it seems as if younger users are much more open in what they choose to share online than say, the people in this class. I believe this is a reflection of age and the fact that younger users might not realize the consequences that can come with sharing so much online. We are steadily increasing privacy in order to enter the professional worlds. But, Facebook can still keeps track of what we do on the site and changes our newsfeeds accordingly. According to “Not Sharing is Caring,” an article on our wiki: “Everything you do online will be shared by default. You read, you watch, you listen, you buy—and everyone you know will hear about it on Facebook.” Yes, you can turn off this feature through privacy settings, but the fact this exists shows just how much can be put online without us actively sharing it with our friends. Turkle believes that privacy is not part of the past and that privacy needs to be a value. I do not believe that “implacable digital memory will not be punishing but will create a more tolerant society” (255). People need to read the fine print in the privacy polices of the websites they are using to share information to make sure that they are sharing the way that they want to.

References: Not Sharing is Caring, Sherry Turkle's Alone Together

5. A human’s ability to improvise should be valued over a machine’s ability to complete a job quickly.

All different aspects of humanity and what it means to be human have been picked apart through class discussion. A computer can beat a grandmaster in chess, but that does mean they are any closer to thinking like a human does. Deep Blue could basically calculate extremely fast. Right now, computers do not have the ability to do more than they are programmed to do. Humans may make mistakes, and make them more often than a robot would, but they also have the ability to truly learn from those mistakes and then improve their abilities. In The Most Human Human, Brian Christian discusses how humans will be replaced with a “method” and not just a machine or computer (79). Not everything that humans do can or should be turned into just a method. We should rely on our judgment and our ability to assume and anticipate. Yes, ELIZA can act as a surrogate psychotherapist, but that in no way means that all therapists should be replaced by computer programs because they can be programmed to “listen” like a human does.

References: Brian Christian's The Most Human Human, Class discussion

6. We should avoid allowing ourselves to be distracted by technology when interacting with another person in real life.

Cell phones have turned into a necessity these days and I cannot think of one person who does not have one (with the exception of younger children). However, I do not believe it should become a societal norm to stop a conversation with someone that you are physically with to stop and text someone on your phone. Turkle states in Alone Together: “Mobile technology has made each of us ‘pauseable.’…When someone holds a phone, it can be hard to know if you have that person’s attention. A parent, partner, or child glances down and is lost to another place…”(161). Text messaging and social media websites have already changed communication to the point that many people see talking on the phone as the last resort. Text messaging is also not the ideal way of contact for many different types of conversations because meaning can be easily lost and misinterpreted. People need to dedicate their time to the people they are physically with, and make a separate time for the people they are digitally connected to. It is great that I can text my best friend who is in college in New York, but it does not need to interrupt an in-person conversation with my best friend at Tech. Cell phones do not always have to be out and ready for immediate use upon the arrival of a message.

References: Team 5 Class Discussion, Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together