General Question

teirem1's avatar

As our lives become more and more transparent through the use of the internet,what do you think are the long term societal implications and results of this?

Asked by teirem1 (391points) March 16th, 2009

Our lives are considerably more transparent through the use of the internet (blogs,social sites,surfing, data mining, etc). Many willing give up much of their privacy and many unwillingly find they have less privacy than they thought. How do you think this transparecy will effect the evolution of our lives and society?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

29 Answers

SeventhSense's avatar

A more honest and authentic society with a worldwide community as the focus evolving to our rightful place in the universe.

steve6's avatar

It’s almost like a therapist. I feel at ease on this site and often share stuff with you strangers that I don’t tell anyone else.

Dr_C's avatar

The transparency comes with a certain anonimity as a given, which makes it easier to bare one’s soul. Having said that… in showing our true selves without the social implication of actually exposing our identity we come to a greater realization of who we are, how we relate to those around us, and how we are perceived by how people relate to us.

psyla's avatar

Probably more harmony as people strive to preserve their own dignity. It’s like an eye in the sky, everyone can see each other so noone wants to be seen as a hateful subhuman. In areas where identity is hidden, true nature shows, but whether identify is revealed or not, few people want to appear to be less of a person than they are, so ego will always be a factor.

TaoSan's avatar


psyla's avatar

Your assignment is to open & set up a MySpace account.

TaoSan's avatar

dunno question just sounded like an assignment to write a paper, just speculating…

psyla's avatar

It does, doesn’t it?

teirem1's avatar

Homework?! I wish I could take the time to go back to school! Need to wait till my son’s through first. No, not homework, just interested. I would also throw out an addition to this question, Do you think there is a certain amount of alienation that is created through this transparency? Sure the internet allows you to reach out and interact with a wider group, you can connect up and share more information with your family and friends, there is also the ability to feel like you can share in anonymity if you choose, however does all of this keep people from reaching out in a more physical format as it gives them a sense of connection without effort?
Also, do you think that lose of privacy is potentially dangerous as not only your friends but your employer and governments can gain access to this information?
Or is the probability of these scenarios so low as to make the questions mote?

teirem1's avatar

Oh, and TaoSan I do admit to writing questions that I would love to research and write papers on. It’s just not in the cards for me right now.

psyla's avatar

Some people have a repressive, dominating persona that stifles free expression, so, no, I don’t want to hug them in person. Overbearing personalities are defeated by this medium. I can open my pie-hole as I choose. And yes, Big Brother is reading every word we type, so say something nice, willya?

augustlan's avatar

In the short term the effects could be negative… employers seeing the ‘hidden’ you, losing touch with people in your ‘real’ life, etc. In the long term though, I see it as a positive thing. Eventually employers will come to realize that employees are just people, with quirks and skeletons just like everyone else, so I think that will become less of a problem as time goes by. The real benefit to all this exposure, is learning that we are all just people, with quirks and skeletons just like everyone else. It will bring a greater understanding of human nature and human experience, allowing us all to empathize more readily.

psyla's avatar

Damn, I’m human! All this time I thought I was an Alien. How depressing.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Lots of people suck at math since the invention of a calculator.

My guess is that it will be the same but on a much larger scale here.

TaoSan's avatar


Lol, just speculating! It’s been a while since such a well-formulated question showed up, lol.

Welcome to Fluther!!!

nebule's avatar

more lovin’

wundayatta's avatar

Let’s think about this. As more is known about us, or is available to anyone who is interested, what will happen? I suppose this is the obverse of privacy. What do we achieve through privacy? Then, how much do we lose when we give up privacy?

Privacy is a protective mechanism. We might be protecting against a number of things. We might not want thieves to know what we own, or where we keep it. That would make it too easy for them to steal it. We want our passwords to our money accounts to be private, so no one can steal our money. Most of us keep personal details private, either because we are ashamed of them, or we think they will cause friction between us and others.

Of these, I think it is the last that is most affected by the internet. We can make our preferences and history and opinions known to the world. Sexuality, religion, political opinions, hobbies and loves are all things that people are making more widely available. In addition, we are spreading around what we look like, our taste in music, what our friends look like; even details about our jobs. Our personalities become public.

The real issue here is when all this information spreads out to people you don’t know. What will they do with it? Will potential employers use it to deny us a job? Will companies use it to market products to us? Will it attract unwanted attention from weirdos?

Stalking, or the concept of stalking is in vogue, these days. It’s being used to describe almost any amount of attention whatsoever. Real stalking is a fear, although it is probably an overblown fear. It happens much less than its publicity would suggest. The real issue is bullying. People being attacked, via words and doctored pictures and videos over the net.

This brings us to shame. Most of us have things we are ashamed of. Things we don’t want people we are close to to know. I don’t want it known that I’m mentally ill, nor the things I did before my illness was controlled. It shames me. It is stigmatized in our society, and, more importantly to me, in my family. I could lose my job, and my friends. My children could lose their friends.

My mental status is very important to me, and yet, I can’t talk about it with people I know. I can talk here, but then, I’m anonymous here. People know a lot about daloon’s ideas and opinions. Fortunately, they don’t know the person behind daloon.

However, if you don’t cloak yourself in anonymity, you risk information getting out to people who might use it to hurt you, socially speaking. You might not get a job. You might be asked to leave your congregation. Your friends might give you the cold shoulder. You could be teased and stared at wherever you go.

We do have one thing going for us, and that is that there are so many people on the internet, that it is hard to get singled out for public humiliation. It does happen, occasionally, though. The bigger concern is that the number of people online does not protect us from the people we know gathering information about us that we really would rather they didn’t know. My daughter doesn’t want me to know about her crushes, and her 12-year-old concerns. She wants privacy, but I can see what she’s doing on facebook. And now, twitter, which allows people to update their doings constantly, and friends can all keep track of each other.

On one level, the internet brings people closer. You can keep a conversation going with your friends, even though you are not in the same place. This binds people together more tightly. Openness helps this process.

The internet brings isolated people together with others like them. There’s a group for everything from slug farming to shawm collecting and everything in the cosmos. It provides support for us who do have things that stigmatize us in real life.

I do not think the ability to stay in touch over the internet will keep many people from connecting in real life. I think that it takes isolated and lonely people and brings them together. I know a number of husbands and wives complain about the amount of time their spouses spend online, so to some extent, it does get in the way. However, more people get together than are driven apart. The problem comes when people do not share a love, say, for sites like fluther.

As with all things, the impact of the publicizing of private information, and the impact of virtual connectivity will have mixed results. There will be some increased alienation. But I think that alienation will be more than counterbalanced by increased connectivity.

Our private information will be used by marketers and employers and law enforcement agencies. It will become harder to keep things private and maintain a presence online at the same time. People will have to make a choice. For many, the internet provides a stage to present themselves on. They become more famous, and can sell stuff, or sell themselves, or market whatever they want. Again, I think the uses outweigh the dangers, although there will be both.

What will become most important is education. We all need to learn how to practice safe internetion: how to set our privacy settings; how to respond to bullying; how to be kind and proactive. Of course, what’s the diff? Education was always important.

nebule's avatar

there are a few award-worthy posts on Fluther…. that ^ was one of them…
precisely what i was thinking yet couldn’t put it into words and don’t need to now

I might just go and change my username now though… :-)

oh but i can’t because then i would have to start all over again and none of you lovely friends that i’ve made would know me… :-(

guess i’ll risk it huh?

Dr_C's avatar

@daloon gave an impressively well thought out and thorough answer… but i worry… finger cramps? all that typing must have had some adverse effect… maybe a smoking keyboard?

wundayatta's avatar

@Dr_C: can you believe, I probably type four or five of those mamas every day? Yeah, my fingers do hurt. Carpal tunnel or something. Sometimes I have to ease off. But I love thinking about stuff, and if I write it down, it really helps. Otherwise the ideas really are half-baked. Even here, they are only three-quarters baked.

Dr_C's avatar

i can only imagine what a fully baked idea would be like…. in fact.. can’t wait to read one ;)

SherlockPoems's avatar

I think the commonality of the internet makes for less intimacy… a more shallow existence. For example, I see people talking on their cell phones pretty nearly all the time… even when they are sitting or standing right next to someone, in restaurants, on the beach, while cruising… and they are on the internet, typing away to people they do not know and don’t really care about. What I wonder is… is that ‘separation’ what they really want? Seems like the number of ‘friends’ is important… not the friendship or camaraderie. Perhaps that is why I usually close with… Hugs from Katie?

Trustinglife's avatar

This is a GREAT question. I read a really really well-written article in the NYT on this last night. Here it is.

The main thing I got out of the article is this: the interconnectedness of the internet may not have a huge impact on our close connections, but it will have a huge impact on our “weak ties.” Those are the people you just met once or twice – at a conference, friends of friends, at a party, etc. You know – acquaintances. By friending the ones I’m most interested in on Facebook, I now have a very easy way to keep in touch with them – to hear from them and for them to hear from me. I LOVE that. I have more of a feeling that we are all connected. This is very important to me, especially given my current life situation – working from home and not feeling super-connected to the community in which I live.

Privacy? I can be private in person, but on the internet I’m quite transparent about my life, and my identity. I had my Facebook profile completely open for awhile, and my Twitter username is my real name. I have never – not once – had any kind of issue or stalking, as far as I’m aware.

I actually want to be found. I want to make it easy for people to find me. When they do, I don’t always accept their friend request if I don’t know them. But I want to make it easy for people to reach out a hand. If they can’t find me, I won’t know they want to reach out. I want to be found, to be seen. I’m sensitive to possible negative repercussions, and I’m quite conscious of what I post on my status updates, and even here, where there’s more anonymity.

I’ve been the source of a few questions here that aimed at trying to bring us closer together – for those who were interested in that. I invited people to share their first name, and to share a photo in a group album we created. So I love the transparency we are moving toward – into something like a global village. I welcome it. I am part of that movement.

There are going to be hiccups along the way, but as @Augustlan said, “The real benefit to all this exposure, is learning that we are all just people, with quirks and skeletons just like everyone else. It will bring a greater understanding of human nature and human experience, allowing us all to empathize more readily.” Yes, please – more of that.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@psyla We might be from the same planet not called Earth. Does your home planet have two yellow suns, or one oddly bluish one?

ignorantsavage's avatar

porn, more porn. and love and connecteness and hate and typing definitely more typing. online interviews, anonymous arguing the death of the indviual but in reverse(we’ll all be so individual well look alike see: hipsters) and porn.

psyla's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra, it’s the oddly bluish one! I’d love to hear more about the religion you created to keep Fundamentalists off your doorstep!

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

yup, we’re from the same planet. :-)

psyla's avatar

So there was a Goddess Evelyn from the planet with the oddly-bluish sun… She had a pet zebra… What else? This is so intriguing.

Oooops! Sorry! Got the email… Yes! We’re definitely from the same planet! Wow….

thegodfather's avatar

Too much information these days is leading us into accepting cheap information. It abounds, and the barriers to entry of yesteryear are coming down. That’s a good thing for transparency, but a side-effect, I believe, is that many individuals’ opinions are becoming rooted in shallow and sparse sound bites of fact. I foresee a culture of high demand for instant gratification when it comes to knowledge (whatever one wants to know, they can know it instantly, just Google it), and while that’s great for improving one’s grasp of facts, I wonder how it may also present a problem of impatience and a weakening of interpersonal communication skills. In other words, rather than having better relationships, we just know how to fight each other better :)

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther