What an interesting read! Ctrl +Z, The Right to Be Forgotten had such a creative title (that is what initially caught my eye), but the subject is something I think we all can relate to. The author, Meg Leta Jones, discusses our right to online privacy and the controversy surrounding our right to remove things, true or untrue, about ourselves from the online environment.
First off, I found the statistic listed in this book about Google absolutely baffling. Did you know that in 2012, internet users ran a combined 2,000,000 queries per minute. WHAT?! That’s right, 2,000,000. I myself am a chronic Googler, usually it’s “Hey, Google, how do you spell ‘definitely’?” or “What can be used as a substitute for smoked paprika” because honestly, smoked paprika? But I never would have guessed 2,000,000 per minute. How did we get anything done before Google?
Something I found very interesting is the research and discussion about how the internet has begun eliminating the process of forgetting. Really think about that. No more forgetting. No more tall tales of your child hood glory, Dad. Your kids will see your post from 2018, and I’m sorry, one 10-second dance challenge on Tik Tok does not make you a professional break dancer. It just doesn’t.
If we choose to, we could capture every moment of our lives, upload it, and never forget a single day. And as wonderful as it sounds to save every photo of coffee foam perfection, forever and ever amen, there are also things in life that you may want to forget. That you need to forget, for your own sanity and mental health. Tragic things. Scary things. Things that your subconscious would naturally ease from your memory, if not for the digital reminder on your phone. Or, embarrassing things. Mortifying things. Things that, if they were shared with an employer or a loved one, could cost you everything. The author shares that “digital memory ‘negates time’. It becomes very difficult for people to detach themselves from humiliating or embarrassing past moments, which can make efforts at self-improvement seem futile.” This point begs the question, How does one move forward when the past is always in the present? “Digital memory, in short, prevents society from moving beyond the past because it cannot forget the past.“
Case in point, after reading this book, I was on my Facebook and one of those – “On this day 10 years ago” type of posts came up. Usually it’s a cute picture of one of my kids or my dog or a picture of myself 5 wrinkles ago, but this one was just a post I wrote, complaining about something SO trivial that it honestly bothered me. I annoyed myself with my own words. How embarrassing is that? I wanted to go back and delete anything that was written by that person. That person was not me anymore. That person was a whiny brat that had no idea what struggle was. But to the internet, it will always be me. And if someone pulled that random post up, they could base their entire perception of me off of that one post. Luckily it’s just a dumb, whiny post about absolutely nothing, but how many people have had their lives ruined because the internet did not let anyone forget about what they said? An off-color comment or insensitive joke made 12 years ago, could come back to haunt you.
So how does this relate to our course? Well, for starters, this blog! Reflection blogging for school is the process of sharing our insights, opinions, and observations ONLINE for everyone to see. And while I tend to err on the side of caution, maybe the opinion I share about this class, our assignments, a library service or model of learning that we discover is not well received by someone else…what can I do?
I could apologize, take it back, edit my post, beg for mercy (if I felt the need to do so) – but a simple Ctrl + C followed by a Ctrl + P before I make that happen and my words live on regardless of my best actions to correct them. In this world, we represent more than just ourselves, we represent our families, our friends, our employer, our school and with that comes great responsibility to be, well….responsible.
We learn a lot in this course about how the internet and technology brings us closer, oceans no longer keep the lands apart…the world shrinks in a way. But this same power of connectivity can also be used to divide us and as members of the library, where we have the opportunity to share technology with our community, we must also remember to share with them the ability to be cautious, safe, and kind. We must share it all because with knowledge comes the power to do better. And if we can take anything from this course, it’s that we have so many opportunities to gain knowledge and do better.
Final thought: I saw one of those random quotes online that said something like, Before you say something, make sure it can pass through these three gates: 1. Is it true? 2. Is it necessary? and 3. Is it kind? This is my new tool for being a better me. Think before you post people!