Say It Loud

Say It Loud

I’m not sure this guy had a lot to say.

But he was sure saying it loud.

Cluck, cluck, cluck…hello, can you hear me?

One megaphone in each hand and another slung over his shoulder–that’s three.

And he may actually have a fourth on the other shoulder–I couldn’t see.

Uh, how do you hold/use that many megaphones at one time–plus he’s doing it balancing on the bicycle.

Hey, watch that foot, it’s touching the ground.

I think he’s saying something like–serious noise pollution… 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Six Internet Creepoids To Beware Of

Six Internet Creepoids To Beware Of

There are a lot of basket cases out there–both in the physical world and in the virtual one.

The New York Times today has an article by Henry Alford about people who act or are mainly just perceived as creepy online.

He gives examples of people who take out their smartphones (with cameras) in the locker room, who show their online photos and whoops there’s an indecent doozie, who mistakenly send a critical email to the wrong person or distribution list, who say the wrong thing online because of autocorrect or autofill, and who act the detective looking up too much information about others.

At the end, Alford calls for “more tolerance toward the gaffe-makers.”

And while we should be good people and forgive genuine mistakes, some things are not accidents and deserve the seal of “ick!”

Here’s the list of 6 Internet Creepoids to seriously beware of:

1) Overly Cyber Friendly or Familiar: People who chat, text, email, or comment in a way that portrays an inappropriate knowing or intimacy with others.

2) Cyber Stalkers: Those who unsolicitedly and unwanted or obsessively follow, friend, monitor, or harass others on the Internet.

3) Internet Trolls: Individuals who giddily sow discord with argumentative, inflammatory or extraneous messages online narcissistically or just to be jerks.

4) Cyber Exhibitionists or Voyeurs: People who inappropriately or compulsively expose themselves or watch others naked or engaged in sexual activity online.

5) Cyber Impersonators or Identity Thieves: Those who falsify their identities by exaggerating or masking their true selves, pretend to be someone else, or otherwise steal someone’s online identity.

6) Cyber Freaks: Individuals who behave online in extreme unusual, unexpected, and frightening ways.

So while some things are innocent or accidentally creepy from otherwise nice and decent people, other actions are genuinely such from the real online creepoids. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Beating Social Media Isolation

Lonely_with_social_media

There is a debate called the “Internet Paradox” about whether social media is actually connecting us or making us more feel more isolated.

I think it is actually a bit of both as we are connected to more people with time and space virtually no impediment any longer; however, those connections are often more shallow and less fulfilling.

There is an important article in The Atlantic (May 2012) called “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” that lends tremendous perspective on information technology, social media and our relationships.
The premise is that “for all this [new] connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier.”

The article is very absolute that despite all the technology and communication at our fingertips, we are experiencing unbelievable loneliness that is making people miserable, and the author calls out our almost incessant feelings of unprecedented alienation, an epidemic of loneliness, and social disintegration.

Of course, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that almost everyone can share, but there are also numerous studies supporting this, including:

1) Study on Confidants (2004)–showed that our average number of confidants shrunk by almost 50% from approximately 3 people in 1985 to 2 people in 2004; moreover, in 1985 only 10% of Americans said they had no one to talk to, but this number jumped 1.5 times to 25% by 2004.

2) AARP Study (2010)–that showed that the percentage of adults over 45 that were chronically lonely had almost doubled from 20% in 2000 to 35% in 2010.

Some important takeaways from the research:

Married people are less lonely than singles, if their spouses are confidants.

– “Active believers” in G-d were less lonely, but not for those “with mere belief in G-d.”

– People are going to mental professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, therapists, and counselors) as “replacement confidants.”

– Loneliness is “extremely bad for your health.

– Our appetite for independence, self-reliance, self-determination, and individualism can lead to the very loneliness that can makes people miserable.

– Using social media, we are compelled to assert our constant happiness and curate our exhibitionism of the self–“we are imprison[ed] in the business of self-presenting.”

Technology tools can lead to more integration or more isolation, depending on what we do with them–do we practice “passive consumption and broadcasting” or do we cultivate deeper personal interactions from our social networks?

Personally, I like social media and find it an important tool to connect, build and maintain relationships, share, and also relax and have fun online.

But I realize that technology is not a substitute for other forms of human interaction that can go much deeper such as when looking into someone’s eyes or holding their hand, sharing life events, laughing and crying together, and confiding in each other.

In January 2011, CNBC ran a special called “The Facebook Obsession,” the name of which represents the almost 1 billion people globally that use it. To me though, the real Facebook obsession is how preoccupied people get with it, practically forgetting that virtual reality, online, is not the same as physical, emotional, and spiritual reality that we experience offline.

At times, offline, real-world relationships can be particularly tough–challenging and painful to work out our differences–but also where we find some of the deepest meaning of anything we can do in this life.

Facebook and other social media’s biggest challenge is to break the trend of isolation that people are feeling and make the experience one that is truly satisfying and can be taken to many different levels online and off–so that we do not end up a society of social media zombies dying of loneliness.

Social media companies can do this not just for altruistic reasons, but because if they offer a more integrated solution for relationships, they will also be more profitable in the end.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to h.koppdelaney)

>Privacy vs. Exhibitionism

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We are a nation torn between on one hand wanting our privacy safeguarded and on the other hand wanting to share ourselves openly and often on the Internet—through Social Media, e-Commerce, e-mail, and so forth.

These days, we have more information about ourselves available to others than at any time in history. We are information exhibitionists—essentially an open book—sharing virtually everything about ourselves to everybody.

Online, we have our personal profile, photos, videos, likes and dislikes, birth date, addresses, email and phone contacts, employer, resume, friends and family connections, banking information, real estate transactions, legal proceedings, tax returns, and more. We have become an open book to the world. In a sense we have become an exhibitionistic nation.

While we continue to friend, blog, tweet, and post our thoughts, feelings, and personal information online, we are shocked and dismayed when there is a violation of our privacy.

How did we get to this point—here are some major milestones on privacy (in part from MIT Technology Review–July/August 2009):

1787—“Privacy” does not appear in Constitution, but the concept is embedded in protections such as “restrictions of quartering soldiers in private homes (Third Amendment), prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure (Fourth Amendment), prohibition against forcing a person to be a witness against himself (Fifth Amendment).

1794—Telegraph invented

1876—Telephone invented

1890—Boston Lawyers Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis wrote in Harvard Law Review of “the right to be let alone” and warned that invasive technologies threatened to take “what was whispered in the closet” and have it “proclaimed from the house-tops.”

1914Federal Trade Commission Act prohibits businesses from engaging in “unfair or deceptive acts or practices”; has been extended to require companies to write privacy policies describing what they do with personal information they collect from customers and to honor these policies.

1934Federal Communications Act limits government wiretapping

1969—ARPANet (precursor to Internet) went live

1970Fair Credit Reporting Act regulates collections, dissemination, and use of consumer information, including credit information

1971—First e-mail sent.

1973—Code of Fair Information Practices limits secret data banks, requires that organizations ensure they are reliable and protected from unauthorized access, provides for individuals to be able to view their records and correct errors.

1974—Privacy Act prohibits disclosure of personally identifiable information from federal agency.

1988—Video Privacy Protection Act protects against disclosure of video rentals and sales.

1996—Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) protects against disclosures by health care providers.

1999Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems states: “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”

2000—Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act prohibits intentional collections of information from children 12 or younger

2001—USA Patriot Act expands government’s power to investigate suspected terrorism acts

2003—Do Not Call Implementation Act limits telemarketing calls

2006—Google Docs release for creating and editing docs online

2009—Facebook 4th most popular website in the world

As anyone can see, there is quite a lot of history to protecting privacy. Obviously, we want to be protected. We need to feel secure. We fear our information being misused, exploited, or otherwise getting out of our control.

Yet, as technology progresses, the power of information sharing, collaboration, and online access is endlessly enticing as it is useful, convenient, and entertaining. We love to go online and communicate with people near and far, conduct e-commence for any product near seamlessly, and work more and more productively and creatively.

The dichotomy between privacy and exhibitionism is strong and disturbing. How do we ensure privacy when we insist on openness?

First, let me say that I believe the issue here is greater than the somewhat simplistic answers that are currently out there. Obviously, we must rely on common sense + technology.

From a common sense perspective, we need to personally safeguard truly private information—social security numbers and mother’s maiden name are just the obvious. We need not only be concerned about distinct pieces of information, but information in the aggregate. In other words, individual pieces of information may not be easily exploitable, but when aggregated together with other publically available information—you may now be truly exposed.

In terms of technology, we need to invest more time, money, and effort into securing our systems and networks. Unfortunately, businesses are more concerned with quarterly revenue and profit targets than with securing our personal information. We have got to incentivize every business, organization, and government entity to put security and privacy first. Just like we teach our children, “safety first”, we need to change our adult priorities as well or risk serious harm to ourselves and our nation from cyber criminals, terrorisms, and hostile nation states.

But the real issue is, why do we continue to treat technology as if it is more secure and private than it truly is? In a sense, we shut our eyes to the dangers that we know are lurking, and tell ourselves “it only happens to somebody else.” How do we curb our enthusiasm for technological progress with a realism of recognizing the very real dangers that persist?