“The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet”

Social media can be a major benefit in many aspects of life. However, there can also be a dangerous, revealing side to being active on social media. Daniel J. Solove’s book “The Future of Reputation” highlights the negative side to social media.

The story began on a train in South Korea, when a woman’s dog pooped on the train. The woman was asked to pick up the feces by the other passengers, but refused. Upon her rude refusal, the situation moved to cyberspace and became ugly. “Within house, she was labeled gae-ttong-nyue (dog shit girl) and her picture and parodies were everywhere.” Later, the story moved to the mainstream media, which then became national news.

Unfortunately, this is not the first or only situation that blew up, though not a major issue. The sharing of personal information online has become more and more popular. “These fragments of information won’t fade away with time, and they can readily by located by any curious individual.” Solove even claims that “the free flow on information on the Internet can make us less free.”

Information was not always so readily accessible. It used to be more scattered, forgettable, and localized, as explained by Solove. Now, it is permanent and in the “teenage” or “adolescent” stage of its life; “brash, uninhibited, unruly, fearless, experimental, and often not mindful of the consequences of its behavior.” Had it not been for the connection to the internet, the dog poop girl would have been easily forgotten, but people used the power of the internet to “enforce a norm.” Since the dog poop girl did not exhibit a social norm, people took it upon themselves to correct the problem passive aggressively.

“Many of us today—especially children and teenagers—are spending more of our lives on the internet.” Today’s society is focused on the connection to internet, and it is often the first place to go when an outrageous situation happens in public. However, the information never goes away. In the situation of the dog poop girl, she will forever be known as the girl who did not pick up the poop from her dog on the train. This goes for others who post personal information of themselves or others. That information stays forever and could make or break their reputation.

“It Takes a Village to Find a Phone”

It is hard to judge how connected we are to others through our phones. The reality of human connectivity is evident in the reading It Takes a Village to Find a Phone, when a woman, Sasha, left her phone in the back seat of a cab in New York City. She searched for the phone, or Sidekick, offering a reward for its return because it held important information for the woman. However, after a few days without an answer, Sasha purchased a new phone and was able to transfer the information from her old phone to her new one.

The turn in the story is, when the information was transferred, Sasha saw that the person who had her phone was using it to take pictures The Sasha’s friend, Evan, took over and confronted the girl with the old phone. He created a webpage, after the girl refused to give back the phone and made rude, threatening remarks. The webpage was created to raise awareness and deliver a message on “the etiquette of returning people’s lost belongings.”

Evan shared his original post on his own webpage, which was then shared by his friends and family and began vicious cycle of sharing. The word of the stolen phone spread quickly across the country. The media and New York Police caught wind of the situation, and stepped in to help Sasha and Evan with this woman.

The main reason the story blew up was because of the power of unity and connection. This particular story “demonstrates that the old limitations of media have been radically reduced…It demonstrates how a story can go from local to global in a heart-beat. And it demonstrates the ease and speed with which a group can be mobilized for the right kind of cause.” A few years ago this story would never have made such a huge impact with the media. This is a perfect example of how scarily connected to everyone around the world is.


“Love Online”

Technology has become a revolutionary way to interact with people around the world. Many argue that online communication is not as healthy, or as much of a relationship. However, Henry Jenkins, the author of Love Online, argues that his son’s online relationship was just as meaningful as the relationship he and his wife share.

Jenkins wrote the article reflecting on the type of relationship his son was having online. He begins by explaining that his son was not finding girls that peaked his interest at school, so he “cast a wider net” towards the internet in hopes of finding some sort of connection. It was online that Jenkins’ son found Sarah, a girl who became his love.

A point that Jenkins made, which is important to note, is that long-distance communications and relationships are not new concepts. Although, the ways in which people go about maintaining those connections are new. Jenkins explains that his grandparents and parents were faced with long-distance relationships when the men went to war. During that time, they kept their relationship alive through handwritten love letters. Now, the long-distance relationships are maintained through chat rooms, texting, e-mail and phone calls.

There is, often, a negative stigma surrounding online relationships, because of shows like MTV’s Catfish where they expose people who are not who they say they are online. Though the risk is there, Jenkins’ son proves that love can be found and be real. “Their feelings were no less real to them than the first love of any other teenage, past or present,” says Jenkins.

Technology has been a great way to connect a variety of people from across the world. People are able to maintain long-distance relationships much easier than in the past. Whether thy have met their partner in person, or are meeting only online, people are able to find love and connection through the use of technology.