Wednesday, November 19, 2014

When kids lose their privacy ...

I might have rebelled--well, ok, I did rebel--against traditions as I transitioned into the teenage years.  But, I was a good kid.  Didn't get into trouble at all.

If I were a teenager during the iPhone era--as in now--I would have had wonderful outlets for my teen angsts of a gazillion kind.  I can imagine a teenage me tweeting pissed off comments about the principal, the English teacher, about the government.  And would have blogged and tweeted about my leftists feelings. Oh, of course, I would have tweeted about that high school love, too ;)

It is a good thing that I didn't grow up with all those technology gizmos.  Which is why I feel sorry for the teenagers and the youth of today.  So, what is the hassle if they use these, you ask?  Hassles are in plenty, my friend!

A few months ago, I got a Facebook friend request from a name that I could not recognize.  But then Facebook said we had mutual friends.  So, I went to the requester's page and, yes, it was easy to recognize the fellow.  I accepted his request, and sent him a message inquiring about the name change--the first and last names were nothing like his "real" name.

Turns out that the fake name was a recent one, and was strictly in Facebook alone and only for one reason: admissions.  He didn't want a web search for his real name to reveal his antics on Facebook.  It is a growing trend among the young to worry about those issues for a good reason; for instance, among the exclusive private colleges:
Of the 403 undergraduate admissions officers who were polled by telephone over the summer, 35 percent said they had visited an applicant’s social media page — a 9 percentage point increase compared with 2012.
This is atrocious.  What a young person has in words or photos should not be of anybody's concern when it comes to admissions.  Yet, it does.  Which is also why the smart ones are cleaning up the public presence (using the fake name is an easy way, right?)
only 16 percent of them said they had discovered information online that had hurt a student’s application — compared with 35 percent in 2012.
“Students are more aware that any impression they leave on social media is leaving a digital fingerprint,” said Seppy Basili, Kaplan’s vice president for college admissions. “My hunch is that students are not publicly chronicling their lives through social media in the same way.”
Students are now a step, or more, ahead of the admissions folks.  Good for them.
Mr. Dattagupta said he looked favorably upon applicants who posted positive comments about the college and about themselves. But he said he was troubled by applicants who publicly disparaged his college or any other on social media using offensive language.
“That’s a big turnoff for me,” Mr. Dattagupta said. “I wouldn’t want a student like that here.”
The college, however, doesn’t notify students if their social media posts hurt their applications, Mr. Dattagupta said. “We don’t have a mechanism to let a student know they were not accepted because of that particular tweet,” he said.
There is something seriously creepy about Dattagupta's take.  Even creepier it is to think that there are a lot more like Dattagupta than I would ever want.

What is a youth if there cannot be youthful indiscretions and exuberance?

Jaron Lanier talked about how it might get increasingly difficult for the young to erase their past indiscretions.  You can imagine how easy it is going to be to do opposition-research and dig up dirt from when a candidate was a mere sixteen years old.  Especially when you think about something like sexting--when kids sext!

The older I get, the more I worry about the ways in which technology is negatively affecting our lives.  I don't think this is merely the effects of age as I look at the horizon.  There is something seriously creepy when high school kids and college youth have to worry about cleaning up their digital tracks; don't you think so too?


Ramesh said...

I know - its creepy like hell. Its only a different version of 1984, especially after the antics of that despicable NSA came to light.

Its increasingly trending towards living the life of a hermit in order to have some privacy. What a shame. In some ways, I am in that boat, steadfastly refusing to enter either Facebook or Twitter and being very careful about what goes online in a blog or any other forum.

Sriram Khé said...

You can run to your hermitage, buddy, but you cannot hide! ;)

It is all getting creepier by the day ...

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