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Online, your life is there for everyone to see, like it or not

Let’s face it, people: Johnny the silicon chip killed privacy as we know it.

The birth of the modern Internet, coupled with the mainstream acceptance and use of digital cameras, multifunctional cellular phones, digital video camcorders, personal computers and social networking tools (among other communication devices) by the general public has made it increasingly hard to stay digitally “unrecorded.”

The everyday person’s potential privacy crumbles a little bit more each time a new networking tool or electronic device hits the market. The push towards broadband Internet access for America has only helped to advance these technologies and trends forward in terms of functionality and popularity. In other words, it’s getting more difficult to stay digitally unknown these days.

However, the previously stated rule only applies to someone if he or she fully embraces the technology. The “unconnected” people (those without instant messaging, cell phones, laptops, etc.) are more immune to being unwillingly exposed on the Internet. Think about it: Can someone post a (possibly inflammatory) picture of himself or herself on a nonexistent Web page? Of course not.

The problem arises when others take it into their capable hands. I, having had this such thing happen to me, will attest to this statement: Although I have never owned a personal MySpace or Xanga profile, along with the fact that my stint with Facebook was surpassingly brief (as well as being an utter waste of time in my opinion), I have seen pictures of myself posted on my friends’ profile pages.

Offensive images? Slandering? Not at all. The point I am trying to get across is the fact that, although my experience with social networking is that of an ultra-novice, pictures of myself ended up on other people’s profiles. Furthermore, the photos depicting me were not collected from my Facebook account during the short time that it was active. The images were taken by other people with their own cameras and cellular phones.

I state this to prove that, although I have no problems with these photos depicting me being posted on my friends’ profiles, I had nothing to do with them ending up on the Internet. They appeared there without any action on my part whatsoever.

The point? My personal privacy has been compromised, in a sense, without any action by me.

We as a society are experiencing a transitory change in our timeline. As the years pass us by, our civilized world moves ever further into the annals of the digital age. The rate of technology advancement moves forward at a staggeringly rapid pace. According to www.privacyrights.org, over 190 million Americans own cellular phone subscriptions. As any college student knows, most of these phones are absolutely laden with communication tools. Text messaging (or “txting,” as the cool kids call it), built-in digital cameras, low-resolution camcorders, Internet access, and GPS functionality are all common features for cellular phones these days. A person can even update his or her MySpace page on-the-go using the MySpace Mobile phone feature.

See what I mean? The potential is there for a cell phone-wielding person to snap a picture with his or her built-in camera, only to post it on a MySpace page within minutes. Remember, many phones can browse the Internet these days as wireless Internet continues to propagate itself all over urban areas. The slick new iPhone has only created even more demand for features such as these in cellular phones.

Of course, this is only natural. We can’t truly live in the digital age without widespread Internet access points and stupid amounts of electronic devices, right? The MacBook Pro, which I used to type this article, along with Mozilla Firefox and the e-mail software which I used to submit it, is only proof of this idea. However, the concern over privacy still exists.

When someone makes a Facebook page or a personal Web site only to fill it with pictures of him or herself that person willingly compromises his or her privacy. Sure, privacy options exist to keep potential sickos from viewing your page, but even these filters can be bypassed by a crafty Web user. It’s simple to delete a photo of yourself from your own profile; the case is not so for photos of yourself on other pages.

We should all be wary of photos and messages which we post on the Internet, as anyone who is proficient with Adobe Photoshop knows how a picture can be” manipulated. Let us remember that the Internet is a whole other world; there are just as many weirdos, jerks and meanies on the Internet as in real life. If you choose to post, then be cautious going about doing so.

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