Too Many Ambiguities
// Posted by Emily 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