Sunday, 19 April 2009

This Is The Cover, Now Judge

I am among the many legions of people that inhabit the online world of social networks. Which is all fine and dandy until someone goes and gets 'tagged'. What is tagging? To the uninitiated it is when someone points you out in a video/photo and then anyone else who has access to the aforementioned medium now know who they are looking at. As you can imagine, the potential is there to bring us all closer but also to drive wedges

So when I joined the online world this morning...which was via my mobile, it can now come to me! The fabulous world of the 'push email'. Anyway, I found an email referencing the process of tagging and specificly the fact that they were tagged in a video that I had posted. They had peppered the email with nice messages and smiley faces to ensure that no feelings are hurt, I am writing this now, so we can judge the personal affects later. This is a strange but interesting coincidence, currently I am polishing off a 'convention on human rights in cyberspace', and one of the most important aspects of it is this right to privacy and anonymity should we so desire it. This is something I am passionate about so of course I will oblige, smilies or not.

Yet the grey matter has sparked and got me further thinking. With the recent noise over Google Streetview and the images of people doing questionable things in the streets or simply being somewhere were they ought not to be. Shame on Google! Then again, shame on Google? I personally find it distasteful the idea that every action we take, be it walking down the street to existing in cyberspace is being monitored and catalogued. We choose to do many things every day, some of those things are not always appropriate or even right. So when some catches us the common reaction is to cry 'snitch'. Guilt and remorse only seems to be proportionate to the amount of trouble we get into.

So can any of us really be ourselves? If you are a good and proper religious sort then you KNOW that every action you take is being watched so you are the obvious pillars of society and source of peace and knowledge...yeah...right. Being human is a hard thing to be these days as everyone can watch. Several people in the last few weeks have spoken to me of 'cyber stalking' and the lengths they have gone to. Nothing malicious by those people, not yet anyway. It was so very interesting to hear what lengths they have gone to just to be more informed about the people in their lives. A sign of the times? Not really, we all hear the rumours that go around, now they are just global and in different mediums.

I was young when I figured out that there really is no such thing as 'self', none of us are really individual in a true sense. We are the sum of our experiences and a product of the knowledge we have accumulated. The uniqueness comes when you started adding all this up, as it shapes us, as each of us utilise it in different ways. Cyberspace has enabled us to access information and give us a voice that can reach to anywhere that cyberspace has reached. This voice can also last for as long as some record remains on some storage medium, like an echo coming from nowhere and existing nowhere yet we all can hear and be it.

Try laying down alone in a room, lights out, no sound. Try to clear your mind, let not a thought be playing around in there. In the dark, silence and emptiness this is what has gone before you and will come after you. This is nothing. We are nothing. Right now, all I am is the sum of my experiences, which in the greater scheme will still amount to nothing. So should we run away and act out our lives thinking that we are under constant observations and fear who is and might be watching us in the future?

The video that got this blog entry written was of a group of people at a BBQ, singing, laughing and dancing. I have fun photos and recordings but it was my memory of being there and the experience of it that will always bring a smile to my face and lightly defrost a frozen old heart. Old friends and stronger bounds mixed with meeting new friends and new experiences. We forgot about the watchmen, we were ourselves, we were human and probably had a glimpse of something beautiful. Then again some people will see just noise and chaos as without a story it means nothing.

So maybe that is the moral? Something along the lines of 'do not judge a book by its cover' versus 'a picture is worth a thousand words'?

I am what I am because of who we all are.