As a kid, I was lucky enough to be raised in a family that was not constrained by the digital divide. I do not remember the first time we got a computer, but what I do recall is that I was playing games and using the Internet at a pretty young age. In the elementary school that I attended (K-5th) all students were required to learn the basic skills that are needed to be technologically skilled. This was crucial in my development because at home my parents were not skilled in this area, even though my mother sold computers for multiple years. Honing these skills at such a young age allowed me to move at a faster pace when I reached middle school, where having computer skills turned from more of an extra skill to a needed skill. A lot of assignments had to be written by computer and teachers were starting to use computer applications that would require a little expertise. Then came high school, a whole other beast compared to what I thought was considered computer skills. I was able to type fast, but I was being put in these classes like web-based management, Telnet, and Website creation classes. Colleges also started to use the Internet as a medium to attract students and give these prospective students information about their colleges. College applications are now almost completely sent using the Internet. Nowhere near enough people have home access to computers or Internet to justify this. But, being that I was lucky enough to grow up in a home that has access to these things, I was able to attend the great University of Texas at Austin. Not being affected by the digital divide also makes people view me differently from other people.
If I were going to be blunt, I would say being online separates me from other people. Each individual looks at different websites and has different interests which leads to data mining and targeting. Companies use this information by posting ads that are specialized to you on your computer. Just the other day I decided to go to amazon.com and try to find an old school Mighty Ducks jersey because those jerseys are pretty sweat. Then, the next day I opened my computer and went on to Facebook and the first ad that was on the right side of the page was for that same exact jersey. These companies also target us by creating their own views of our identity. They construct an identity that they think we will be most closely associated with and therefore will buy the products that they put out for us to see. If a company that has mined my data was going to guess what kind of person I was I have no doubt that they would be able to say that I am a white male that attends the University of Texas who also likes sports. I would be separated from the companies and people that sell/enjoy shopping and jewelry, but would be put in the same are as the people that sell/enjoy sporting goods and TV. This is why being active online can be dangerous.
I do spend a lot of time online looking at various websites, but I only belong to a view of them. The ones that I do belong to though, I am not very aware of what I need to do when it comes to the privacy aspect. For example, on Facebook there are some pictures of me doing things I probably shouldn’t be doing, but I don’t really care. I have my profile on private (I think) and I personally never post things. I consider myself pretty careful when it comes to privacy because even though someone could find some information about me that wouldn’t be too flattering, I am not wary of it since I didn’t post it myself. I know this is a bad way to look at online privacy, but this kind of is the age we live in. Everyone’s lives are going to be public in a since because everyone’s lives are somewhere on the Internet. You aren’t just able to delete yourself from the worldwide web. In my opinion it is even harder to drop off the face of the Internet compared to dropping off the face of the earth.