Wednesday, June 08, 2011

You'll Never See My Weiner

I'm sure everyone has heard about Anthony Weiner's Twitter scandal by this point. It would be more impressive if you somehow hadn't heard about it since it appears to be the only thing the media wants to cover. But that's another issue for another day. You may have also heard about the leaked photos of Blake Lively that have made the online tabloid rounds where you saw much more than what Weiner's pictures showed.  And these are only two in a long line of famous people taking videos or photos of themselves in compromising poses with little to no clothing to speak of.  It must be the technology, right?

Well, maybe... I do think that technology plays a part in it. With the explosion of platforms used for communication (there's the traditional email, SMS, Twitter, Facebook, instant messenger... the list goes on), of course people are going to do stupid things on them, but you'd think that after more than a few high profile situations have arisen that people would catch on. "Oh my gosh, taking pictures of my dong on my cell phone isn't totally safe? Maybe I shouldn't do that." But they don't.

In certain cases, I do believe it's a mindset issue. I think of Brett Favre. He doesn't seem to be the brightest bulb in the bunch and I doubt he really had a full understanding that when he sexted pictures of his wang to another person that they could somehow go beyond her. Although, when you think about it, in old man terms you could think of it as mailing a photo to someone--there's still a risk that the person you sent it to might show it to another person. In that scenario, however, the circle of embarrassment was much smaller and could (potentially) be contained. Only the people shown the physical picture would know about it. In our information age, however, as soon as a tweet is made, it's a part of the global information system. The circle of embarrassment is all the more large. Shouldn't this lead to even more caution when using these methods of communication? Obviously not.

Maybe it is a case of comfort. You get so used to direct messaging with people that it becomes a task you stop thinking about. Every time you DM another picture of yourself topless sitting next to a cat to some lady you only know over the internet, you get more comfortable with the process... until that one time you accidentally do an @ reply instead of a DM. All of the sudden that underwear picture isn't going to one person privately, it's going out onto the internet for anyone to find and is actually being broadcast to all of your followers. You have a situation where not only did you have something you didn't want public leak out, but it was broadcast to others.  Wouldn't this danger scare you off or at least make you doubly cautious? Obviously not.

I'm sure as more and more of the privacy barriers that exist between us are torn down via technological means we'll see more and more of these situations arise. Even when you're cautious, you can still have your accounts or phones or computers compromised by another person, a virus, malware, or targeted attacks. I think it will become even more difficult in time to hide illicit, secret, and embarrassing photos and videos from the wider public. What I'm curious to see is what the effects will be as this happens. Either it will simply become more accepted (which I think is unfortunately likely) or people will become more aware of their actions and the implications to their privacy and relationships (probably less likely).

At the end of the day, though, maybe I shouldn't complain too much. For every Weiner story we have to endure, hopefully we'll get a few more naked pics of hollywood hotties!

No comments: