We are all familiar with the saying, “For every great man is a great woman behind him.” It’s true, it’s definitely true. A good cannot be considered “good” without having an opposite, which is the “bad”. We cannot tell that our left hand is the left one without having to refer to our other hand, which we consider is the right hand. There is always a corresponding opposite to everything. In the saying stated above, there is a great woman in contrast (opposite yet equivalent) to the great man. Let’s take this in context of the new social media. I have often written about the goodness that NSM brought to our lives, but in dealing with this good thing, we must not take for granted the opposite of it all. There is good and there is bad. Or, in this case, for every good thing about the new social media, there is always a bad thing behind it.
One Tree Hill is one of my most favorite television series. I love how it defines the characters of five teenagers namely Lucas, Peyton, Brooke, Nathan, and Haley, whose lives are all intertwined. I have watched all the episodes of this series beginning from Season 1 up to Season 5, but stopped being a fanatic of Seasons 6 and 7.
The character that I supported and is my favorite is Peyton. Peyton Sawyer is an artist and she reveals all her emotions on her pieces of art. She can be very emotional and “dark” at times, and her vulnerability always eats her up. She has lost her mother when she was still very young, and this major drawback caused her to have “mommy (or family) issues”. She thinks she is invincible but in reality, she just needs someone to understand her. This led her to turn to cyberspace and vent out her life stories on the Internet.
Peyton has regular podcasts on her website and her webcam is always turned on. Her friends and “fans” can always see her through the webcam. She posts her “life” online and is unaware that she is being stalked by a crazy love-struck fan who pretended to be the brother she is looking for. Because Peyton published intimate details of her life on cyberspace, the stalker was immediately able to find out where she lives. This person, who introduced himself as Peyton’s brother, easily found a way to be close to Peyton. Eventually, Peyton found out the truth and after a very violent confrontation, was able to get away from her stalker.
Podcasting and the Stalker Scare
One of the workshops conducted in class is about how to create a podcast and post it online. When we were doing our own podcasts as a group activity, I remembered the Peyton Sawyer story and I realized that there could be major burdens when dealing with the new social media.
Let me incorporate the fictional “stalker scare” of Peyton with my realizations of the disadvantages of using the new social media.
1. Lack of Anonymity
Peyton posted all of her life stories in cyberspace. She chose that her life be an open book to her followers, her listeners, and that caused real trouble for her. She put out information about her family, her history, where she lives, what school she goes to, her hobbies and interests, her experiences with relationships, her ups and downs with her best friend, EVERYTHING. We could always say that we can be careful with what we put out there on the Internet, but people can find ways to dig up information. We can never be too careful. We can never really protect the data that we give out. We can use codenames, or aliases, sure – but there will always be a glitch in there somewhere that will lead to the discovery of the true identity of that person.
Because of the wealth of information we put “out there”, we may no longer be safe. Corporations are scammed, individuals are harassed. There have been many reports about identity theft, and most of the information we give out can be taken advantage of.
3. “Transparent” Network
The NSM offer a lot of platforms for socializing but it comes with a price. With being free to socialize with anyone, we form various connections. We form big networks. We become part of big communities. Every point in these networks will always lead to other networks and the connections will go on and on and on. For every line in these connections, there are several other dots, and these dots represent the many people that are part of our network. All of them will gain information from us, about us, and the transparency of our connections is affirmed. Every little detail will be “out there” for grabs, and privacy and security might be compromised.
We Can Stop Being Peytons
Being careless and carefree can longer be accepted. We realize that there is a counterpart for the praises we bestow on the new social media. Peyton’s story might be fictional but it could happen. It is derived from reality and all of us can become victims. With all the harm that is brought by the seemingly great and halo-deserving NSM, carefulness is not only a value that makes us proud, it is also a requirement most especially for us netizens.
Perhaps we can opt not to post intimate information on the web. Enemies or rivals (or stalkers!) might use them against us or to outmaneuver us, and the “real” people in our lives won’t need them anyway. Just a thought. 🙂