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Shame on you By Firmin deBrabander

There’s a well-known contradiction in the way many of us behave online, which is this: we know we’re being watched all the time, and pay lip service to the evils of surveillance by Google and the government. But the bounds of what’s considered too personal, revealing or banal to be uploaded to an app or shared with a circle of social media ‘followers’ seems to shrink by the day. When faced with an abundance of digital toys that offer magical levels of connectivity and convenience, many of us succumb to a ‘giddy sense that privacy is kind of stupid’, as the writer Gary Shteyngart wrote in The New Yorker in 2013. 

That’s not to say that social media curbs our self-awareness, or that our internet selves aren’t highly artificial and curated. Nor that people living in oppressive regimes, or as minorities in societies where they know they will be targeted, aren’t justifiably anxious about what they say online. But the point remains that digital media have radically transformed our conceptions of intimacy and shame, and they’ve done so in ways that are unpredictable and paradoxical.

I moan about the lack of privacy, for example, and yet I willingly and routinely trade it for convenience. I am no longer forced to take my chances on a restaurant and guess which one is best; Yelp will tell me and then escort me to its front door. I no longer run the risk of unforeseen delays on public transport; Google Maps will inform me of the fastest route to my destination, and, in a pinch, an Uber can get me there via any number of hidden by-roads. I no longer need to remember my friend’s birthdays; Facebook will nudge me, and invariably lure me to post an update to remind people I exist. To avail myself of these applications, all I have to do is make my location, habits and beliefs transparent to their parent companies whenever they choose to check in on me.

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Despre Claudiu Degeratu
Expert in securitate nationala, internationala, NATO, UE, aparare si studii strategice

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