Jeopardized Authenticity due to Digital Freedom

Do humans really hold the key to digital humanities or are they key-picking themselves in? Digital freedom has expanded throughout the years. Individuals with easy access to computers, laptops, tablets and even cell phones are allowed to explore and view different things via the internet. Many sites such as Facebook or Twitter allow users to create their own profile and share their interests and ideas to the virtual world.

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Catfish, is a TV  show that streams on MTV, where two guys are on the search to link people together who have met online. After watching a couple episodes of this show, it reminded me of false perceptions that people try to create online. The people on this show hide their true self, their looks and sometimes even they way they really are in order to meet others. They have the freedom through the virtual world to create everything at their preference, which can then make them feel happier with who they are perceived to be. Throughout the show, the hosts show us conversations and phone calls that these two people have exchanged through long periods of time. By the end of the show they help these people meet each other for the first time. When the people often meet in person, they are in shock because they would have never expected the individual to be completely different than what they were expecting. The internet is a great way to connect with people but at the same time, are you meeting the real person or their imaginary interpretation of themselves?

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But the question I shall ask is, how much limit does each individual have in the internet? In order to test this question I’ve decided to find out for myself. I’ve decided to go on Facebook and see the limits or restrictions there are if I decided to construct a profile based on my imaginary virtual life. I signed up for the site, provided my email address, profile picture and was asked a few questions. I love Rachel Mc Adams so I figured I would be happy if people thought I resembled when they looked my profile picture. First name: I chose Alexis, because that’s the name I’ve always wanted. Last name: I didn’t know what to choose, so I picked Freedom. They also asked what school I attend and my hometown. I always wanted to attend Harvard so that’s where I currently attend school. I loved going on vacation to Cabo San Lucas so I decided that that’s where I’m currently living. Instead of asking for confirmations to decide if these were truthful answers, all that Facebook asked me was, “Please click here to confirm your email.” There wasn’t a button that said, please “type in your student ID so that we can verify that you’re a student at Harvard University” or “please provide your address so that we can confirm that there is a Freedom family living in this location”. The digital freedom that the internet allows is being abused. The freedom is allowing individuals to alter their authenticity at their preference in order to adjust their feelings and emotions. Their individuality and identity is being taken away. They aren’t really opening the lock with they key, they are key-picking themselves in.

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3 thoughts on “Jeopardized Authenticity due to Digital Freedom

  1. I have watched this show multiple times and I find it very entertaining. At the same time, however, I can’t help to imagine that if these instances keep occurring that people would still form these relationships online and continue to be shocked and sometimes heart broken at what they find out about the “person” they thought they were talking too. I think it is times like this, where we do have the digital freedoms to do whatever we want, at the same time, we also need to be cautious and more aware of who we’re talking too as well as any unusual behavior of the people we meet online. For instance, during the show, many times the people who are involved with the online relationship haven’t even talked to each other on the phone. Behavior such as this should be a dead give away that people aren’t who they really are, especially if this is going on for many years. Our digital freedoms are unlimited, however by taking advantage of them, we could put ourselves in situations where we can get into deep trouble and on a more personal level, we can go through a hard time emotionally.

  2. I would have to agree with Andrew. If people actually watched the show Catfish, and saw that most of the time who people think they are talking to, is really a fake person, why do people continue to create relationships online? Also, Most of the time people ask whoever they’re talking to online to video chat and often if it is a fake person he or she will say they don’t have video chat. However, with todays technological advances it is extremely easy to video chat with a person. Whether it is facetime on iphone, or skype, or Mac video chat just to name a few, it is very accessible to video chat with a person. I think that people are taking advantage of the internet, and considering that it allows us to do everything else on it, Facebook should create certain restrictions to who can make a profile and who cannot.

  3. Hey I really think you raise an interesting point here. Only thing is I find myself on the opposite side of the fence and wonder what consequences would be to ensure an authentic portrayal of people online. Is it worth giving up your freedom and right to privacy just so people don’t need to doubt whether you really went to Harvard? As you say for Facebook to be able to verify this it would require giving them a great deal of your personal information. This is not something everybody would be comfortable doing, as the recent controversy over the documents Edward Snowden released and is continuing to release shows. Privacy is a touchy subject for many people. To many it is a basic human right, essential to freedom. Whatever their motivation may be a person has the right to say whatever they want. Outside forces can only go so far in protecting people and it opens the door for more intervention. Where should the line be drawn? If they say they went to a concert Saturday night in their status will they have to supply the code on their ticket to prove it? Furthermore I would argue that no matter what hen you are interacting with a person virtually you’re getting a different representation than if you were to meet them in person. At the end of the day what is really their authentic self and identity isn’t only for them to decide which is why they must have the freedom to do so.

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