Like people exploring a dark cave system we stumble through the social change that is being facilitated by our ability to share everything and anything with the world.
We are exploring a new world and don’t really understand the consequences of our actions, both personally and socially.
Here in the UK a teenager is removed (resigns?) from her post as Youth Police Commissioner because of views expressed on Twitter:
Paris Brown, 17, from Sheerness in Kent, said bravado had led to her statements on Twitter, which had offended many people. She said she was resigning from her post as the youth police and crime commissioner for Kent after police announced they were investigating whether her comments amounted to a criminal offence.
Critics claimed the comments were racist, homophobic and condoned violence and drug-taking. Brown pleaded to be left alone now that she was standing down.
Once upon a time the tools at our disposal were quite rudimentary and had limited impact. I wrote a while back about an incident that had led to my own embarrassment. In this I committed the classic reply-to-all mistake and managed to send lots of people an email with the wonderful words – “have you got any slots left for back, neck and shoulder massage?”
In the events that followed the bombings at the Boston Marathon people on twitter and reddit latched on to a rumour about who had carried out the atrocities, only for them to be proved completely erroneous.
Recently David Zax wrote about some of his personal experience:
Email is only one way we communicate today, though, and only one among many web services that include some sort of social, shared, or collaborative component (cf. this “cloud” you may have heard of). And in the past several months, I and people in my social circles have accidentally shared private information we only intended to share with one person, a select few people, or no people at all. There was the week during which I scheduled the likes of personal doctor’s appointments in a communal calendar (partly a symptom of my having bought a new computer, and some hiccups in getting my old device-synching techniques to work under my new setup). There was the moment an old professor accidentally posted sensitive banking information to a shared Dropbox folder. He was lucky that I immediately clicked on an alert pushed to my desktop, saw what he had done, and emailed him about the breach. “This is the way things become a disaster,” he wrote me.
We now have massively powerful tools at our disposal, but we don’t yet have the protocols or the safeguards available to stop us causing ourselves all sorts of damage.
In vehicles we recognise the power that we have available to us, power for good, but also dangerous power. As such we have training and driving protocols. Here in the UK it’s known as the highway code, a failure to use it could lead to embarrassment, but also to legal action. As well as a set of protocols though, we also have a set of safety features built into our vehicles for those times when things go wrong, we also have systems to warn us about things that are about to go wrong unless we do something.
We continue our journey through the dark cave of discovery and the casualties mount up.