I don’t know if any of you are following the Gawker/Reddit explodyness about the mod of many a nasty subreddit and his outing. There have been a number of posts about it but I think these two are amazing for their take on Free Speech and Power (and it’s relation to patriarchy).
And then this one on privacy violations based on image vs name and the gender implications inherent.
The take on “realness” was fascinating to me. The idea that “it’s just the internet,” or “those photos aren’t really real or affecting someone” is telling about what (I think) the internet can do to our experience of intimacy, empathy and compassion. Telling too, is how hurt and offended the mods when it gets real indeed and faces are outed (as in Predditors, a tumblr site devoted to showing just who was doing creep shots-since taken down) and how it’s not “just the internet” anymore when it’s them.
There is a flatness to the experience of being online perhaps, that being in WoW or online chats is more real, in a way that reality isn’t real, but it also allows people to (or creates in people the ability to) act in ways they would dare not in person. Then you log off and that disappears, yes? All the WoW or the chats or links you uploaded? But it’s there and it’s real and the photos of little kids, or beaten women, or racist imagery is actually there and behind those photos are real people. I mean just ask Amanda Todd. Well, you can’t because she committed suicide.
Zeynep’s article, in my opinion, puts the slam down on complaints on forums being free speech. And she brings up the idea of ethics which I think is so important.
My favorite quote of Zeynep’s “Again, I’m not talking about banning everything offensive. Not at all. I’m calling on major sites on the Internet to assert that in this community, we affirm the right of people to exist in an environment that is not hostile to vulnerable populations over the right of people who claim that their right to prey upon children trumps all other rights.”
And that’s the thing. There are people in the world who don’t believe anything trumps their right to do what they want, least of all how it might be damaging to others. Until it winds up being damaging to them.
I posted this on FB and had a pretty amazing 71 comment dialogue with several people. I might see if I can get permissions to post it in it’s entirety with names retracted if needed. It was measured and thoughtful and really good stuff.
We all discussed civil freedoms and vigilante justice (I am not a fan of vigilante justice), the issues of individuals feeling they have to police their own wardrobe or places they visit (kids at a swimming pool for instance) and living in fear of this idea that being in public meant no privacy (and the non consensual nature of things like creepshots) vs online communities policing users and maintaining group ethics.
Also discussed were the dynamics of laws catching up with technology and the desire of people seeking justice and fairness being thwarted by old laws and slow judicial processes (while the internet races on quick as rabbits).
It’s no wonder that people want to take matters into their own hands, but I’m not sure where that stops.
It’s a puzzle, and one that that needs to be confronted head on with rationality and compassion, knowing full well how messy things will get. Eye for an eye, or compassionate fierce connection in the face of pain. Winds up being a little of both I suppose.
Even more than that, since I’m neither a lawyer or policy maker, I’m curious about how we create online spaces where empathy and compassion are a built in, and if those look considerably different then current boards, games, forums and chat rooms have developed already. What does the mind create as a world and do the “real world rules” apply more or less, and is it more or less real. Folks are already working on that, but I think about it nonetheless.
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