I saw the movie Anon today. Amanda Seyfried plays what I have decided is an equivalent of someone who does not exist on the internet. She therefore couldn’t be identified in the movie world where everyone is registered in a common database and the concepts of anonymity and privacy do not (or rather should not) exist.
It took me back to a funny video I saw on Facebook the other day of a girl who meets a guy IRL and then tries to find him online only to learn that he does not have Facebook or Myspace or anything and she freaks out. What kind of monster is he? It’s hilarious. Also, I get this girl. Subconsciously, I become a bit suspicious of people I can’t find on social media. I start to think, “Why are they hiding?”
I know many people who would meet people who are not online and are just fascinated by them like, “So how do you make friends?” “Where do your thoughts go?” “What if you see the most beautiful sun set and you are by yourself?” I have also met people whose diversion from social media seems to be like their branding rebellion against society therefore that single gesture of theirs means to them that they are better than you.
There are also those who are on social media under fake aliases or real aliases but with literally nothing about them in their profiles. I wonder if these people get offended when you don’t accept their requests.
At the end of Anon (which I will take the liberty of spoiling because you’re not really going to watch it) Clive Owen’s character echoes my own thoughts to Amanda Seyfried’s character asking her why she wants to stay invisible to the database, what is the big secret that she wants to keep hidden, and she says, “It’s not that I have something to hide. There’s nothing I want you to see.”
Anon isn’t like a great movie with a nice, big plot but this particular line has me thinking about what everything I have put out on social media is worth. All my photographs, poems, opinions, jokes etc… It has got me thinking about all the times I just want to take it all back and wish I’d never known about the compulsive demon called the internet. About the times I wish that nobody saw social media me.
It annoys me how little social media captures the larger, more complex idea I have of myself and yet it claims I am in charge so it is still me in there. All that is lacking is probably because of all the stuff that I haven’t shared to the internet for the sake of what is called privacy.
When I was done watching and contemplating Anon, I then put on the documentary Glossary of Broken Dreams, a funny explanation of big ideologies of our time, of terms like Free Speech, Privacy, Capitalism and the likes. It was recommended to me by a friend. It has weird Austrian folk music in the middle and it’s not really something I would watch on my day off but I put it on and I started multi-tasking, only giving it a very small portion of my attention…until the narrator started talking about what he called Bourgeois Privacy.
The cinematography for this part starts following a guy, the “modern subject” who hears the narrator’s voice and is startled and shy feeling like his privacy was being disrupted because he was being watched. But the narrator goes on to call the man “Big Brother” and he explains to him the history of Bourgeois Privacy, how the telephone and x-ray were once thought to be invasion of privacy and how The Right to Privacy became a thing.
He shows how privacy, especially of the cyber kind today, is becoming looser and looser these days and that even the authorities supposed to protect our private data always fail to do so. He says about the danger to our privacy,
“Privacy is not under attack by some evil outside forces. It is under attack by our own collective behavior. These trends could be stopped only by massive efforts. People wouldn’t be able to share stuff online. […] We would have to get rid of the internet as we know it. But you don’t wanna do that right? You’d make the right choice wouldn’t you, big brother? You wouldn’t sacrifice memes and porn for Bourgeois Privacy…right?
Our information is out there. It’s not by choice. It’s a necessary entanglement and it’s adding up to something big and beautiful- presupposing we take the right actions. If nice things are being made on the mass data collection and utilization, you should have those things…”
About a month ago, Hank Green uploaded a video titled Who is in Control where he highlights that Facebook and social media have become a necessity, tools that provide us with what we want to know about and see and he also talks about the down sides like how the system that provides us with our information online isn’t really a person but a selfish computer program that only cares about getting more and more income for its masters.
There will be a link to the Hank Green video at the end of this entry.
This idea of social media privacy, I think, is vast and significant to our time. If I fall into talking about it now I will not be able to come out. It’s going to get more and more complex as time goes on unless it blows over and we’ve seen the glorious times of social media privacy.
I personally don’t have much to hide. Unlike Amanda Seyfried’s character from Anon, I like to share nice photographs and thoughts on social media that I want people to see and care about because they’ve meant something to me. I like finding things I care about on the internet.
There will also be things that I do not share with the internet, not because they are hidden secrets but because when I see someone IRL whose intimate details I know from social media but do not really know in person, I feel weird. I feel like I have looked into this person’s secrets and like the Modern Subject in Glossary of Broken dreams, like somebody could be looking into mine.
P.S In spite of the weird folk music, I think maybe I’ll make time to finish watching the documentary. You should watch it too.
P.P.S We on telegram again FYI at Circling Qalat Telegram