For this week, we examined the writings of Maha Bali, Shanley Kane, Dorothy Kim, and Danah Boyd. While they all come at the issues of digital identities, digital access, and digital vocalizations in different ways, with different angles, they all seem to be discontent and critical of the current state of general Internet culture. I am as well, but my experiences ultimately boil down to just ignoring spiteful speech because no one can physically hear you on the Internet. It sucks, and it’s a painful reality, but its a reality that will not disappear anytime soon.
While Danah Boyd covers mainly the topic of digital access and privacy, the other three authors focus on digital voices and the lenses of digital experiences. In some way, all of their articles focus on the globalization of digital culture, for better or worse (definitely for the worst for Kane, and Kim to an extent).
However, Bali starts us off with the positive potential for Internet culture, where people can join together to raise empathy and awareness for issues that are found throughout globe. I like her attitude towards Internet culture, and its an attitude that I have been struggling with myself. I want the Internet to be a resource that anyone can use and respect one another on with differing opinion. But, I’m finding that its just not the case. Or, if it is the case, the organizations and brotherhoods that band together to achieve greatness and positivity online are drowned out by waves upon waves of harsh comments and terrible online etiquette, simply because of anonymity.
Kane, in my opinion, is the most radical of the four writers, and sometimes its a little hard to agree with her on some of her points. But, she does raise a couple of points that I respect and understand. She believes that those who are put in a public sphere cannot be taken seriously other than the topics in which they specialize, and even then, sometimes they continue to be degraded and harassed. However, the general rule of the Internet that has been adopted as part of the culture seems to be one of conformity and keeping one’s voice lowered if one wants to avoid criticism and harassment. But, I find that again and again, women are the ones who claim to be harassed on the internet far more than male counterparts. Regardless of the circumstances, its a pressing issue if certain demographics do not wish to tolerate harassment yet cannot be taken seriously due to the overwhelming majority of individuals who cause harassment or simply abide by the “Internet rules”. It’s completely unfair.
Kim, a bridge between the two previous authors and Boyd, discusses the potential spaces on Twitter, whether or not they are successful in allowing communities to discuss certain topics, particularly issues of human rights and protests. Her main example is the Ferguson protests that started back in 2014. She tends to draw lines about how people should properly do things, and how the Internet culture works within these spaces (for good or bad). I’m not exactly sure how to feel about her arguments, since the Internet is something with rules, but they bend and shift, and different portions of the Internet have different rules. Twitter, in my opinion, is a website that swings to far being genuine and being toxic. Lots of people would probably criticize her for attempting to draw lines through Internet dialogues and “limiting their free speech” through her article, but I think in a time of absolute chaos on the Internet, it’s sometimes needed.
Boyd, lastly, discusses digital access and digital privacy, particularly with the relationship between the EU and the American Internet. She gives a very straightforward argument about how restricting age limits onto websites do nothing positive for the online community as a whole. I find her argument to be nothing controversial at all, since there are current problems with children lying about their ages to access websites (which nothing can ever truly verify the truth or falseness of an age claim) and whether children should have Internet privacy. I completely agree with her arguments on parental controls and child access.
In general, I struggle to gain firm ground on the two middle articles, Kane and Kim, but especially Kane’s. I want to agree with her on some standpoints, but I’ve also been raised in a generation that has had Internet for most of their lives, and slowly but surely I’ve realized that the toxicity of Internet culture is loud and in your face constantly. One has to adapt and survive in the harsh world, or simply blend into the shadows and become faceless. It’s extremely difficult and taxing to accept, but it’s Internet reality. Thousands of people are just complete monsters on the Internet, and there isn’t a cure for online harassment other than to just log off or ignore it. It’s just the way it is right now.