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KOCHU VARTHAMANAM: Life As A Goldfish
Internet has become an integral part of our life and while the good it does far outweighs the bad, do you really want your world to turn into a goldfish bowl, asks Remitha Satheesh
On Jul 23, 2010

 

How much is too much? In this day and age when nothing is sacred anymore, where does one draw the line on ‘TMI’ or Too Much Information? When we log off from the computer do we really get offline or do the ‘wireless’ routers follow us everywhere and feed our personal information on to the ever hungry maws of a voyeuristic cyber world out there?

When I typed in a mail to a friend and mentioned that I had attached a picture, but forgot to attach it, Google or rather Gmail promptly and very nicely told me that I had forgotten the attachment. “Oh cool!” was my first reaction. But in a few moments, paranoia set in. So is Google playing big brother now? Deceptively benevolent, watching over me and gently reminding me that I had forgotten something. Seems so benign and doting. But is it? Do we really need such super smart email?

If I do forget the attachment, I am sure I would realize the oversight in a while. Even if I do not, I am sure my friend would remind me of it, with some choice words about how un-net savvy I was. I’d rather be reminded by her than by an omniscient invisible presence in my computer. Tomorrow if I want to tell her that I had a couple of idlis for breakfast while I actually scarfed down a couple of chocolate doughnuts, will Gmail ‘gently’ chide me for being untruthful? Will
Gtalk admonish me if I tell my husband that I was looking up schools for our kids when we move back to India when I was actually catching up on the last episode of Idea Star Singer on You Tube?

All I need is a carrier for what I have to say. A system to faithfully carry my words to whomever it is meant for. Not a prim and proper nanny going ‘tut, tut’ on me.

And while I do like the feature which lets me ‘undo sent message’, because of all the trouble it can save me if I shoot off hot headed spur-of-the-moment emails (almost makes me wish there was some such feature to erase the messages we leave in voice mails too…), there is something freakishly creepy about it… almost like trying to turn back the clock and erasing a part of the past.

Not only are our email servers spying on us, our whole lives are out there in public view. Today, you can go online, type in someone’s name and discover absolutely everything about the person, including contact details, what sites he visits online, the number of pets in his house and also be treated to a live streaming video of his house. I agree that the whole world is turning into one massive reality show menagerie, but do we really have to turn into such  voyeurs?
It is one thing to proclaim to the whole world through your social networking site about what you had for breakfast, offer a picturesque description of the disgusting pimple under your nose or if you prefer boxers to briefs. But quite another to narcissistically ego surf and come across information you’d rather keep personal, announced on the World Wide Web. I am sure you would not want it to be public knowledge about how many times a week you… err… go to the gym.

Then there is this clip on device which logs your daily activities, including your every walking step and sleeping patterns and sends all the data to a website which later shares it with your family and friends. And what about all those fancy apps on your smart phone that post an update every time you ‘check in’ at a restaurant or movie theater? While it definitely is a welcome option to keep track of roving spouses or know for sure if your teenage kids are really in school for that extra class, does it not turn all of us into nasty spying, paranoid  creatures?

Like it or not, the internet has become an inevitable part of our lives. While the good it does far outweighs the bad, do you really want your world to turn into a goldfish bowl? I strongly feel that somewhere, the line should be drawn, especially when it comes to protecting one’s privacy. Every time you visit a site, you leave your footprints. Chat histories are probably never truly erased and all over cyber world are telltale signs of your presence and every word you type into search engines are preserved on some massive data filer and is right there for the taking.

So the next time you order that herbal potency enhancer online or search for an old flame in the safe privacy of your house, remember that someone already knows what you did, even if you browsed ‘incognito’.

remitha yentha
Remitha Satheesh
A home maker living the 'easy life' in the US of A, juggling her time
cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring and playing maid. In between, she
nurses fanciful delusions of being the next JKRowling and tries to
'write'

 
 
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i write this with much hesitancy and circumspection. 1.the internet has meant greater access to scores of women-for example pornographic stuff.....men always had their playboys and penthouses , while women just could not be seen with such stuff-even in the FIRST WORLD.Hence the pornographic divide has been breached and this has led women to be sexually demanding on par witht the male of the species.For many college girls, the internet is a gateway to lust and bust and unthinkable fantasies and rightly so.....so the internet has really benefited the female kind-especially since the female orgasm is as female as a female itself!!! 2.the conservative internet females hav always hidden behind a purdah , even as they typed away to glory on their facebooks,orkuts etc....these women wanna be publicly private and privately public.......funny... just pick up 100 social network pages -male and female and do the comparison on privacy....it is astho women are glood to thier igloos!!! 3.ofcorz orwell has predicted the big brother or big bother in his 1984
Johnny, on Jul 24, 2010 01:08:28 PM
 
 
I hope people are not scared of commenting on your excellent column thinking "what will Sergey Brin think if he knows that I am reading assorted blogs?" :) Jokes apart, very nice column indeed. The flip and the positive side of it - and only in the long term - is that we are becoming a society that is perhaps not afraid to be public? In a world where 'everyone knows everything' it becomes a level playing field, true talent will stand out! Maybe after 500 years though, in the meantime Google can fetch me the next advertisement for 'psychological counseling' based on the contents of this comment wisely concluding "if making such comments, surely he needs help..." :)
Ajith M, on Jul 26, 2010 08:23:20 PM
 
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