Loving the internet, but not liking it very much...

I have some crunchy granola, off-the-grid friends who keep me (literally) grounded, but I'm pretty much at a place in life where I can't function without the internet. The ability to instantly communicate and collaborate and connect with other people in far-reaching geographical areas is one of the most significant effects the World Wide Web has made on every facet of our world from education to business to medicine to government.

One of the greatest opportunities of the internet is the openness and ability to learn, share, and be a part of people's lives.  

i love the internet.jpg

One of the greatest pitfalls of the internet is that, by way of its openness, it provides all-too-easy access to over-learning (do we really have to know all the things?) , chronic oversharing (do we really have to tell all the things?), and the over-involvement from and in the lives of other individuals. 

Privacy is a lost art these days, I tell you. 

On the one hand, Facebook and Google and their counterparts are making it so that you just about need a specialized degree in their intricacies to keep your settings or profile to make your content viewable only by your circles or friends or lists or followers or whoever. IF you happen to click the correct box and edit that certain drop-down menu while standing on one leg and holding your phone just so and also with one eye closed with your chin facing west...you might stand a chance at actually protecting your pictures and posts. These companies are pulling nasty little punches by gradually removing all control we have over what happens to pictures and information we share online.

The problem is, they've given us years of free service to adapt us to utter dependency on their products. Can you live without Facebook or Google? Sure. Do you want to? Most people don't. We have been conditioned to believe that life is easier because of these tools and so we neeeeed them.  

I don't like it. I don't like it that we have to fight so hard on social media to guard our privacy. I don't like it that the internet filters our information searches based on how it tracks our activity online. I don't like that it is getting harder and harder to control images and information I post, especially in regard to what I post about my children. 

Social media has retrained our brains to think that if we want to engage in modern culture, we have to be present and active on all the platforms under God's digital matrix. Sharing, sharing, sharing. Liking, commenting, interacting, posting, linking, tweeting, retweeting, mentioning, hashtagging...it's all about being digitally present and active. 

With both wonderful effects as well as frightening, social media has changed society. The bonus for us as digital immigrants is that we have the benefit of being aware of it. 

I think of this often, for two big reasons:

  1. I get to teach middle school kids about respecting their digital footprint. Today's teenagers are the first true digital natives of modern society. They don't know the world without the internet. This also means that they underestimate its danger while taking its power (and subsequently, their responsibility in it) completely for granted. 
  2. I also believe it is important to safeguard my children's digital identities. When my girls are trying to interview for jobs, college scholarships, or whatever adventures they seek in 15 years, I don't want embarrassing pictures of them from childhood to turn up when an admissions counselor, professor, coach, or hiring manager does a Google search on them. If they're like pretty much every other teenager, they'll bring enough WWW drama on themselves...the best thing I can do for them now is to model appropriate use and intentional protection of their identities.    

It's easy to feel helpless sometimes when staring the whole entire digital ocean rising up before us. I figure, hey, I can't control the internet {shaking my fist at the whole interweb world}, but I can try to understand and minimize how it affects my family's reality.