Going Viral

8 Jul

I wrote a viral post on this blog years ago about the encroachment of social media on our very minds- the notion that we were beginning to mold our thoughts and observations according to what would garner the most likes once shared. The whole post, now that I reread it, seems quaint- it was before I owned a smartphone, when I would wait to get home to log in to Facebook from my laptop. Now, social media apps are a click away, in our purses, pockets, and within reach at all times. You can share your thoughts, your photos, your life as it unfolds. You can even share other people’s lives as they unfold. Who needs privacy when real life drama is all around you?

I refer of course to the viral hit of a few days ago, known as planebae. A woman and her boyfriend sat behind two attractive strangers on a plane and livetweeted their flirtation to an audience of thousands. People loved the story- who hasn’t wished to sit next to the love of their lives on a plane- and it blew up. I admit, I followed it. And then, I felt guilty. When I heard that the “pretty plane girl” was refusing to go public with her identity, I thought, good for her! She didn’t ask for her private conversation to go very public. And now, her wish for privacy has been violated, since some committed internet sleuths have doxxed her, and she’s shut down all of her social media accounts.

It seems that to some young, extremely online people, life is one big Instagram story. Pics or it didn’t happen. We’ve all gleefully agreed to make ourselves famous for 15 minutes, or try. Add the filter to your selfie that will get you to 1,000 followers, to 1000 likes. Each new notification from social media is like a little hit of dopamine. I’m liked. I’m loved. More, more. I don’t think the woman who livetweeted the budding plane romance did so maliciously. But she did so without any concern to the privacy of those two people. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I would not want my private moments unknowingly shared with thousands. Yes, there is face recognition technology out there that captures us virtually anywhere we go. Hackers across the globe can monitor your actions online keystroke by keystroke. Is it too much to ask that we have some privacy when we’re in public spaces? Or will our lives inevitably become someone else’s content? If your dream is to end up on Today and Good Morning America, super. If not, brace yourself.

 

 

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