I will admit I will never understand the current craze of social networking. I don’t understand Twitter. I don’t get Facebook. (Actually I think Facebook is the spawn of Satan, but that’s a different post.) I don’t get MySpace. The idea of a software program on my cell phone broadcasting my current location to my friends is something I simply don’t grok: the idea that I should sacrifice that degree of privacy for some degree of notoriety seems strange to me.
In my day, the idea that the Government would be able to plant microchips in our minds in order to track our movements was a sure sign of madness–today we volunteer to carry around electronic devices we pay for (and pay the networking usage of) so we can install software that allows Corporations to track our every movement. (And if you suggested we would do this twenty years ago, my friends and I would have thought you were completely out of your mind certifiably insane.)
But I have to remember something: the 20-somethings I currently work with were 10, 11 and 12 when the World Wide Web was invented. For me, I still remember bang paths. It was how we routed mail before the invention of DNS. And I was in college at that time. I still remember when there was an informal injunction against ads on Usenet Network News because many of us were getting our Arpanet connections via a DoD contract, which prohibited advertising.
So the idea that we would use all of this to communicate with other people socially–or the idea that we would volunteer as much personal, private information to corporations who then promise to resell that information for advertising purposes–still strikes me as extremely strange.