Saturday, 18 June 2011

Anti-Social Networking?

We are all like kids in a sweet shop. We just can't get enough of social media this and social media that, what's our Klout and the next best social network.

It's as if socialising never existed. And as everything grows like topsy we all vigorously defend the right to free speech. Shame on China, shame on Arabia for not allowing Facebook and Google in - it should be the right of every person to have an account on which to post silly pictures of their cat and share anti-Muslim jingoistic emails from outraged Americans.

We are a generation (even us oldies) who have re-invented the term social. I mean, you are simply not influential if you can actually talk to important people - you have to have an extremely large network of followers who hang on your every digital word to be really influential these days. 'What goes on on tour, goes on YouTube' and other phrases that have entered our lives and suddenly what we do is far more public. We fight for data privacy and then we log into Facebook and make sure our profile is 100%. We 'out' Ryan Giggs on Twitter but we abhor spam attacks. Life is suddenly full of odd paradoxes.

But what of the legacy? Today, if I was so inclined, I could seek out chatrooms which trade in private bank data by the batch of thousands, I could join interest groups that organise Jihad, I could become a member of a pedophile ring, I could join groups and groom young children for all sorts of things, I could join sites which cater for the most bizarre sexual acts in life. The world is my oyster.

In that morbid and mundane place we call the real world, people starve and crimes are committed by weird people. Online, people are cool and the only crimes are our lack of imagination and a low PeerIndex score. Losers are those who haven't joined tumblr or received hair removal from Groupon. Pedophiles are merely active social networkers, after all. We can organise raves, parties and terrorist acts while getting to the events on special offers on The world is limited only by our imagination.

I have yet to hear the term anti-social media or networking. We have yet to have any real impetus on law making that embraces the internet and social networking. Groups will fight it as it spoils the fun. But it will come, I suppose. You can have too much of a good thing.
We are in an important period for the digital world. The fever pitch is high as valuations get talked up and the last thing you want is law makers stepping in and spoiling the fun. But we may be creating the easiest and most useful ways for anti-social people to commit their anti-social acts.

Here's an interesting statistic. Crime has not gone down any but car theft is at it lowest for years. I wonder what all those artful criminals are doing these days? Checking who's online, who's travelling on Tripit, who is buying and selling what on eBay, scamming us on our Microsoft support? (Surely we are all just glad of a call mentioning Microsoft).

At some point, I dare say we will all sober up from the party and with sore heads survey the mess that surrounds us. It will have been such good fun at the time that we just didn't see the obvious happening. But we will see it some day.


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