An Unnecessary Distraction.

Bad jokes about important things and a lot of less important things

Posts tagged snooping

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The irony of a blog complaining about oversharing.

When did sharing stop being a good thing and start being absolutely unnecessary and actually quite sinister? I mean, obviously in some ways sharing is still a good thing. No one likes the toddler who doesn’t want to share its toys; it’s always nice to share our opinions and experiences with friends; and sharing wealth by not letting certain members of society pay themselves obscene bonuses to stop them fleeing to hotter countries with more ‘forgiving’ taxation, keeps a whole population at a decent standard of living. Obviously that last one is a wildly misleading picture of British society, but you get the picture.

Yeah sharing’s generally alright. I don’t even have a real problem with the thoughts people share when their brains start leaking onto Tweets and Facebook statuses and the like (depressingly proven by the fact that I write this blog). There are studies that would beg to differ, but as far as I’m concerned, if you’re in control of it, then fair play. But why, for the LOVE OF GOD, has the introduction of Open Graph  to Facebook made what we read, listen to, watch, play, take photographs of, become something that is shared by default?

In the first instance, I object (by default) to involuntary oversharing, because I barely gave a shit about that Facebook status informing me what drink you bought at Starbucks. Or even your daily pregnancy updates. Well done! You can reproduce! Hooray for biology! I just ate lunch, where’s my praise? I digress. If I barely cared about the banalities you actually chose to broadcast online, why do I care about things that you used to do in the privacy of your own home; listening to music, watching TV and reading the trashy articles in broadsheet papers (don’t pretend you don’t, we ALL DO, and I’ve seen it on Facebook.)

While Charlie Brooker has given the social downfalls of having your every movement automatically broadcast a pretty good airing, the impact of having our activities shared on social networking sites paints a fairly bleak future not just for our privacy, but for our ability to actively share what we want with our friends. By passively sharing our activities and our interests for us, Open Graph software "[opens] the door to a horde of zombie posts that will overwhelm our interest and deaden us… to organic discovery". And where Open Graph social reader apps, also through their one-time inconvenience of ‘allowing’ them to access our information, create a barrier to the active spread of information in more ways than one, the opt-out nature of recent adjuncts to the Facebook franchise, illuminates a simultaneous barrier to our privacy.

And it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to translate these trends into government policy. The government recently voiced plans to monitor the calls, emails, texts and web visits of the UK population - despite pledging in the Coalition Agreement to end unnecessary data retention and restore our civil liberties - and this looks like a proposal we’re going to have to struggle to opt-out of. Labour tried to introduce a similar measure in their last term, which was similarly criticised - by both Conservative and LibDem MPs, funnily enough.

The full plans of the current coalition won’t be outlined until the Queen’s speech next month, and looks set to face incredible opposition from within the Coalition, but it’s an unnerving development nonetheless, worrying 94.2% Guardian readers, if not most of the British population. Maybe opt out of sharing your Spotify playlists while you still can? Or pre-emptively opt into the Coalition’s plans to ‘share’ our online activities, like me. I think I’d rather just cut to the chase and email my entire internet history to the Home Office myself, along with a list of all of the things I’ve done each day. With pictures and videos where possible (winky face).

On a different, but related note; speaking of oversharing (and it should be old news by now, so I’ll keep this brief instead of spending a whole piece on it), I’m still hearing joke after joke about Tulisa Contostavlos’ and her ‘sex tape’ (read: betrayal and gross invasion of privacy). I don’t really understand why, since they’re not getting any cleverer - they are generally variations on: “Tulisa is a slut LOL”. I’m not really sure where the jokes about the other ‘star’ of the tape are though – or are dick jokes only funny when we’re not actually laughing at them? Disappointing.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen the tape myself, and have no desire to, since it’s not actually my business any more than staring into my neighbours’ houses with my nose pressed against the window, or, perhaps phone hacking, is my business. I have seen Tulisa’s response though and I’ve decided that I think she’s amazing. “A threat to the traditional post-sex tape narrative, were the woman is quietly disgraced”, Tulisa’s unapologetic response reasserts that the shame lies not with her, but with her ex-boyfriend, who chose to use her sexuality in their relationship, as currency against her. And her decision to stand up for herself on her own terms, through her own YouTube channel and without the influence of an editor or a pay-cheque is refreshingly genuine. I’ll take a feminist moment wherever I can get it, and I’ve really only got good things to say about a woman who has been able to handle herself with such strength and self-respect in the wake of such exploitation. Takes a lot of gumption. I guess that’s where sharing things gets good again.

Filed under tulisa sex tape facebook sharing coalition snooping