Too Many Ambiguities

// Posted by on 03/05/2014 (9:28 PM)

The two articles for Thursday posed some really interesting questions and. First, I want to point out a few things in the story about Aaron Schwartz. As mentioned in the article, Aaron’s family declared publicly that the government’s pursuit of Aaron’s arrest contributed to his suicide. Is it really fair to say that? We have debated back and forth so much throughout class that the government either is doing too much or too little when it comes to safety, protection, prosecution, etc. on the internet. We seem to not be able to decide the exact role the government should play. We say by spying the government is exerting too much power and invading too much privacy. When talking about all the hackings, riots as a result of social media, etc. we say that the government is not doing enough to prevent social catastrophes. So where is the line drawn? I am also confused about who and why the government decides to pursue in these situations. Obviously after all of the information we’ve learned thus far through articles and class, partaking in the risky business of the internet has become a pastime for a lot of people in our country. I don’t think it is necessarily fair for the few who are actually targeted and then prosecuted. I think it is taking it too far as to say the government played a role in Schwartz’s death. It also makes me question to what extent is something illegal or even wrong? This question is further analyzed in a quote from the genius himself– “Is sharing a video on BitTorrent like shoplifting from a movie store, or is it like loaning a videotape to a friend?” This is obviously an extremely gray area as typically this cannot be addressed unless the situation actually occurs. However, in terms of justice and establishing a finer line between the two, I think this idea needs to be addressed and a clear decision needs to be made. It will make virtual and real life much easier. I think one of the main problems is that people don’t necessarily know what they are doing is wrong. For example, the maid of honor who sings her speech to love story by taylor swift, only changing some of the words and completely keeping the tune, probably doesn’t realize that is technically illegal. But should that really be illegal? I don’t think so.

As for the Lanier article, he makes some pretty harsh claims. Coming from the inside out though, he is hard to completely ignore. He believes the massive use of the internet is shrinking the economy, exemplified in programs such as Facbeook and Google Translator. On this point, I disagree. How can Google translator, something that allows us to connect with other languages and cultures in a more efficient way, be shrinking our economy? Facebook has made billions of dollars (maybe not so ethically), creating jobs, innovating new ideas, and has expanded the world to be a much more connected place.



What would happen to suicide rates if the Internet did not exist the way it does? That is, no social media sites existed, etc. I would like to think rates wouldn’t be so high, but I don’t think that would be the case. I think that bullying has been in existence for decades, it just appears to be on the rise because we are now able to document it, publish it, and publicize it– The way we hurt each other has evolved. (Keep in mind that suicide is ranked as one of the top three causes of death in the 15-44 age group). This also feeds into another point Lanier makes, which is that anonymity is a “poison seed.” –the way it doesn’t hide, but brandishes the ugliness of human nature beneath the anonymous screen-name masks. Do you think the world would be a happier place without the mayhem of the Internet? I honestly do.

A podcast discussing the severity of suicide and the internet.

the trailer for a cyberbullying documentary

Categories: Uncategorized


Piper said...

The BBC Report: Suicide and the Internet was extremely upsetting to listen to. The fact that “support” sites out there exist that give very detailed information of suicide methods is just appalling. According to The Report, predators exist on those sites that seek out and target vulnerable and usually young people and “groom” them to take their own lives, perhaps for sick pleasure. How are these sites allowed to exist?! Do these sites exist on the Internet, in this way, provide a way for people to “freely” express and discuss their thoughts? I think yes.. but usually not in a healthy way in my opinion…I think ones’ involvement in another’s suicide is a serious and controversial ethical issue and clearly becomes fuzzy when that assistance is on the Internet, like many of the issues that the Internet brings up, which just makes it much harder to regulate/monitor/enforce laws and prove crimes. As people interviewed on The Report claim, sometimes the threads provide platforms of “discussions” that can be helpful to those thinking about suicide, as they can freely discuss their thoughts and receive consolation for their loneliness. Statistically speaking, The Report’s interviewees claim that suicide rates have not increased due to these discussions… But, with these discussions sometimes being discrete, can we really measure this?

As Lernier said in his article, people can not interpret technology as a way to forgo responsibility– “The Computer did it, not me” should not be and, I think, should never be an excuse. Much like the DDoS attacks, there are people behind the actions who are choosing to partake in the mayhem. If one assists someone else’s suicide on a discussion board by detailing suicide methods and providing encouraging words, can’t this be compared to the real-world controversial debate around physician-assisted suicide? The predators are providing the means or information that one can use to carry out the act…

// 03/17/2014 at 11:26 pm

Eliza said...

After reading Emily’s post, I became intrigued with her last sentence of her comment, “Do you think the world would be a happier place without the mayhem of the Internet?” Upon thinking about that question, I agree with parts of it. I believe that the world would be a happier and less crime infested place without social media. However, pertaining to the internet, I believe we need that in order to connect with other aspects of the world. Imagine school systems without the internet. Professors would be unable to effectively teach their students in this day and age. I believe we all need internet today, but we could do without social media. The amount of times I am asked each day, “did you see/like my instagram?” is unheard of. We are all so wrapped up in what is going on via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter that we forget the real problems occurring today. I do believe within getting rid of social media that the suicide rates would decrease. Teenagers these days have so many more ways to access other classmates than ever before. Children getting bullied are no longer safe within their own homes. Once they open their computers they are bombarded with hateful messages. Social media needs to simmer down or else the world will continue to change for the worst.

// 03/18/2014 at 12:40 am

Molly said...

I do not necessarily think the world would be a happier place had it not be for the internet. I think the world would be a happier place is we had the internet but people used it correctly. Although it is capable of being a medium for evil, I think it is unfair to say that we would be better off without it. After all, it has also helped keep people in contact with loved ones worldwide, provided a huge portal of information, and the source of games, knowledge and various other sites that we all benefit from. You also write about how there seems to be a parallel between cyber bullying and suicides. Is it actually the internet that is hurting the person or the person behind the screen pinging horrible stuff? I think the internet makes it easier to bully someone, however I don’t think it’s the computer that hurt them so much, but rather the person punching the keyboard.

Another point that you bring up is how the government chooses who to prosecute for copyright infringement, and I also would like to know the answer to this question. I think it’s interesting how company’s such as “Drop Box” where friends share and exchange most likely illegally downloaded music. How is this allowed? How is a company allowed to be established and then profit off illegal activity? I am not big into downloading myself, but I am guilty of using online sites to convert songs from youtube in the past. However, when you go to these sites there is no warning or statement saying this is illegal so how are we supposed to know? The site seems perfectly legitimate and before this class, I thought what I was doing was perfectly acceptable! I think there defiantly needs to be some clarity as to what is allowed and what is not. Music is meant to be heard, and I think it’s inevitable that people evolve and build off others, and making this illegal I think is counterproductive. Limiting creativity, instilling fear in society and arresting 10 years olds over something like music or movies that are created for the people to enjoy just doesn’t seem to make sense to me. I think that’s the real tragedy here.

// 03/18/2014 at 12:57 pm