The warnings made. The jobs lost. The embarrassment had. Yes, we all know the stories. We know that the pixels of our digital life can be rearranged into a pointing finger of accusation. Our posts can return as curses. The Internet doesn’t forget, we are told. Those images of young indiscretion become the cages we will be forced to live in. The old parents threat about what you did wrong at school will haunt on your permanent record now has become a technological reality, and more so as it has expanded to all facets of modern living. Caution has become the buzz on Facebook, Twitter, and all our digital life. Yet, there is a deeper digital divide not spoken about. One writers face. But more on that later.
The most recent example of Internet caution ignored involved a group of partying sorority at Penn State. Their crude and silly mistake was parading in pictures of Mexican clichés for one of their drinking parties, then posting them online. One cliché, drunken Greeks on campus doing dumb things, making fun of another cliché of nasty stereotypes of Mexican culture. I, being Mexican, was asked to comment on their prank as if it mattered. I was not offended, others were for me, but it got me thinking about the digital divide. With the advent of smart phone video cameras, even just doing something embarrassing has the possibility of finding its way on YouTube. The prying eyes of the Internet are everywhere, and we must be on our best behavior lest we go viral as a buffoon. God writes our name in the Book of Life, Facebook post it for the world to giggle. Whether we like it or not, the Internet has changed our lives. Our lives are not our own; they are owned by the Internet.
The Google search has made us vulnerable. If someone wants to find out about us, our tastes our voting habits, our preference for toothpaste; the truth is out there. Yet, something else is being lost. The Internet has become a giant cultural stream of conciseness machine. Videos go viral then are soon forgotten in the flood of new videos. Insights about the culture are buried in a content crush. The art of writing, of carefully meditating on the world as it occurs has been swept away in a continuous avalanche of information. Most blogs have a just handful of readers. Most of what we want the world to read or know about us goes largely ignored. This blog post will be forgotten within a week or ten minutes. Writers are asked to produce for no pay. The content then is buried, unless it attracts eyes, which means being outrageous in its opinion expressed. Bold has replaced thoughtful.
No one will find us if they are no searching. Hence, the dilemma of the Internet. Our worse defines us. The good is there, buried and needing a skilled searcher. The Pixels have added sparkle, but little heat to modern living.