I’ve always held a degree of caution whenever I go online. It’s not something that is constantly prominent whenever I click on the Safari icon. Rather, it affects my decisions for posting, commenting, and favoring statuses or articles that I stumble upon when I go online. I believe that people need to have forms of skepticism whenever they decide to take part of the cyber world.
My access to the digital world has always been a guarantee. As long as I can remember, my childhood household always had a computer within reach. Our humble beginnings with access began with dial up much like anyone else who had a computer in late 90s, early 2000s. However with all that access, I believe stemmed a fear from my parents of the unknown dangers that lurked within the digital crevices. Before the headlines of the NSA (possibly) violating people’s online privacy and the celebrity iCloud leaks, there was a degree of concern in my own childhood home. Most notably when the idea of whoever else was online came up for discussion.
Whenever my parents would see a headline involving a cyber crime, specifically those that involved predators in online chat rooms, there awaited a long lecture for my sister and I on the dangers that lurk online. After the first lecture, we were given a list of sites that we were allowed to visit. This is when I became limited even with all the access in the world at my fingertips.
There’s this certain memory in which I had to ask my mom if I could get a Myspace account. She said I could, but I remember her watching over me as I made the account. From then on, I never went back to Myspace. Eventually, there was a transition in my parents views as the Internet’s control over society grew. By the time I graduated high school, my parents could have cared less which sites I was visiting.
My online access grew tremendously with wifi at home, smartphones, laptops and all the other devices in between. I don’t see myself lacking access any time soon (unless our reality goes through a no power access plot line like the TV show, Revolution). Still, I do see myself struggling with how much I want to be involved with the online communities that are just a post away.
As of now, I continue to limit my own access but not for the same reasons that my parents believed. I limit myself in order to protect my privacy—from friends, family, future employers, the government and even strangers. If you were to look at my Facebook, you would notice the rarity in posts, liked pages, or even information about myself. My account is blocked to only those that are my friends and is pretty much on lock down from the prying eyes of my Facebook friends. I avoid posting information on my stances or even what is occurring in my life out of the need to avoid the unnecessary backlash that can come of it.
On the other hand, you could almost say I am limitless when it comes to my Pinterest and Instagram accounts. I attempt to keep the posts updated and ‘clean cut’ (in regards to staying away from any controversial topics). They can be telling of my ethos, logos, and pathos on certain subjects even if I’m not involved on other sites. For some reason, I feel almost safer on Pinterest and Instagram even though my accounts are open to the public.
These are really the only websites I belong to: Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. It can almost be seen as ironic that I feel free and unafraid to post on two of the three sites and yet, I only regard myself as a community member to two sites while there is a vast amount to still be explored.
By limiting myself online, I no longer reflect the person that I see myself in the physical world. It’s easy to identify (or assume) my class, race and gender from the surface of my online activity. But with my posts tending to be on the more neutral end of things, it can’t be identified without talking to me in person that I identify as a feminist. Or how my race affects my morals. Or the difficulties and desires that come up in my life for being middle class. There is only so much you can learn about me by my posts.
I am fearful of what others online may think of me because the opinions I have can be controversial. I am also afraid of what I can possibly post can hurt my future. By limiting my online self, I can either hurt or help my life’s outcome.
I know this may sound like I have a great deal of issues concerning my stance on the Internet. However, I believe a little fear is good when it comes to exploring the unknown. You never know who is going to be watching every single one of your tweets, status updates, and the rest of your online activity.
Holding onto a little fear is essential especially with the expansion of our dependency upon the nearest wifi signal. As we become more dependent on being digitally connected, I believe everyone should hold a little reluctance to what is being shared online. Even if what is online is someone else’s view or your own. Yet, fear of what is lurking out there shouldn’t stop someone—like myself—from becoming involved with the growing conversations online. As the digital world is evolving, so am I.
There is so much you can do to shield yourself from every possible danger that is hiding in the cyber world, but without actually being involved, are you still part of that same community that you lurk upon? I am not a bystander in the physical world; I shouldn’t be one in the digital.