Rachel Blackwell - Manifesto

(1) Society should realize that the up and coming generation lives and breathes technology, and that is not changing.

According to the article, Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction, pre adolescents are unreachable. That is, unless you are getting in touch with them via a BBM (Blackberry Message), Tweet, or Facebook message. Academics are dwindling and online presences are skyrocketing. Competitive students are appearing to be more selective, not only in how they spend their time even in school, but how they spend their mental energy.

Online video games and social networks are devouring their attention and their grades. Woodside High School, located in California, has actually rearranged their school day, having classes begin at 9:00 am instead of earlier, because students were not focused in the morning due to late nights spent online!

It may seem like an epidemic, but I have a feeling, it’s here to stay. Will the future hold more adjustments of this nature? It may have to, if the entire generation dictates the need. I feel, not only is this gaining attention, its receiving change. Society should realize that we are most likely at a point of no return; we are only moving further in the direction of a technology driven reality.

Source: Richtel, Matt. “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction” Business Day Technology. The New York Times, 21 November 2010. Web.

(2) Children should not be able to utilize social networking sites until having reached an appropriate age, i.e. 14 or 15.

I really feel sorry for the middleschoolers in my hometown these days. They all have Facebooks. They update their profile pictures. They are “in relationships.” Really? I know this because the majority of them have friended me on Facebook.
What happened to afternoons spent playing hide and seek? My two most absolute best friends and I did this. That’s how we all became friends in the first place. It was hard enough not making the JV basketball team then, but now… everyone must know about it! I’ve even heard of girls starting “Facebook Wars.” There are trips to the principal’s office over this.

I’m not opposed to children using digital technologies, but I have serious doubts about social networking sites and their implications on self-image and peer-to-peer friendships. In the article, When My Kids Unplugged, the mother honestly admits to banning social sites from her children. She follows up with mentioning that their relationships within their family got better because of it.

I believe that there should be some limitations and rules put into play when it comes to youth and an online presence. They should be aware that pictures and words, once online, can live forever.

Source: Maushart, Susan. “When My Kids Unplugged.” Social Media. Salon. 22 January 2011. Web.

(3) We ought to not place our happiness online.

Our state of mind is a funny thing. Sometimes we can be as giddy over a simple moment of joy. Other times, a rainy day can taint any good mood we maybe could have had. The funny thing is though, is that online, especially within social networking sites, everyone seems pretty darn happy.

There are pictures of sunny days and tailgates, birthday parties and babies. It honestly makes you feel like something’s missing from your life if you can’t keep up with constant flow of updated photo albums (even putting a few of your own pictures up for others to see.) It’s nothing new to compare your life to someone else’s, and most times you can feel better about yourself by knowing how you stack up next to someone else.

But what really is at work here? Do we actually begin to feel worse about ourselves after seeing all of this happiness happening to other people? I believe that this unspoken norm, of only highlighting the good times for others to see, is depressing everyone else in the process. Our way of thinking has shifted and it will be interesting to see what ramifications may come of it.

Source: Copeland, Libby. “The Anti-Social Network.” Slate. 26 January 2011. Web.

(4) We ought to be wary of spending too much time online.

As I came to find out during the course of my ethnography, I spend a lot of my time online. Even only removing one source of my distraction, Facebook, from my life for a month, I realized what other things I could be paying attention to.

In the article, Miss G.: A Case of Internet Addiction, I found it to be a brutally honest glimpse into the world of anyone who is a “normal” user of many digital technologies. We are spending so much of our time that we could be using for face-to-face conversations, reading a book, or exercising sitting and devouring bits of text from a glowing screen. We are the moths to the flame! Our time is not only being dominated by this, it’s being stolen from us.

Addictive seems to be a word that would mostly accompany some kind of consumable substance, but it is now applicable to the Internet. We are addicted and can never seem to get quite enough. Kevin Kelly would probably say that our technology has turned into our religion; I think we just need to look at our time and where it’s going.

Source: Heffernan, Virginia. “Miss G.: A Case of Internet Addiction.” The Opinion Pages. The New York Times. 9 April 2011. Web.

(5) Society should be demanding more information about how our sensitive data is being used.

After using online sites like Gmail and Paypal for a while, it doesn’t seem to be out of the ordinary to include any and all personal information. Sometimes data as personal as social security numbers are entered along with credit card numbers and verification codes. This kind of sensitive information is clearly personal. But what about search keywords and sites you visit? Is all of this really stored and used for other uses.

I believe the answer is yes, and I’m not a bit surprised that this is going on. To the average user, such information would be useless, but in the right hands, what does it do and where does it go? Should we be more alert and paranoid about this, and is it, in any way, an invasion of our privacy? I do wonder about Google and feel their constant looming presence over the majority of the Internet. I feel we, as users, should be demanding to know what is going on with our information.

Source: Manjoo, Farhad. “No More Privacy Paranoia.” Slate. 7 April 2011. Web.

(6) We should be more careful with the information we share about our children.

Can you imagine turning a certain age, and finding out your entire life has been shared online, mainly though images? It should be an interesting reality for the babies that have their ultrasound pictures posted online for the world to see.
Maybe it will be like a rite of passage, that when you are old enough to have you “own page”, you will be able to rule your online presence. I find it bizarre that anyone will be able to literally get to know you, through your past and present. Could this be the future for relationship and dating sites?

It seems like a world of avatars even more with this prospect in the future. Where do an individual’s rights come into play? It may sound silly, but what about a child’s consent, does it matter and is it needed? In the article, The Digital Lives of Babies, they state “A recent study published by AVG, an Internet security company, found that 92 percent of American children have an online presence by the time they are 2” (The New York Times). This literally encompasses all but 8 percent of babies, and I can’t help but wonder if this is the only time it will ever be allowed.

Source: Siegel, Lee. “The Digital Lives of Babies.” Fashion & Style. The New York Times. 18 February 2011. Web.