Is Social Media a true reflection of human interaction? Without the context of vocal tone, body language, and other nuances, text (and accompanying images) may easily be misinterpreted. The news often references Social Media reaction, embedding individual posts in its feeds, but is it telling the whole story? We are justifiably concerned with manipulation and “Fake News”, but what about “Incomplete News”. Many discussion threads rapidly escalate from reasonable, topical debate to ad hominem attacks, digressing within minutes. Maybe Social Media is less about “what” we are presenting and more about “how” it is presented, considering a potentially global audience.
Why do we filter our view of the world with metal and glass? At events, we find scores of people with a phone obstructing their view, focused on a digital replica rather than the analogue original. Why waste money attending an event, obsessing over capturing it for later viewing rather than living in the moment? Must we digitally share everything we indirectly experience? How much of our lifetime do we simply delete? Are we genuinely seeking to share these replicated experiences for the benefit of others or are we simply seeking validation from others doing the same through social media?
In the digital age, is privacy merely a concept? With the ability to universally share information, voluntarily or not, the only privacy realised might be physically behind closed doors. Consider that now, with our mobile addiction, even that gap is bridged. Strangely, the more communication technology possessed, the less “communication” occurs, but the more others know about us. Human existence becomes digitally vicarious, represented online through manufactured personas. When considering third party privacy, what others inadvertently reveal further obscures the lines of privacy and our control over it. Sharing personal information rarely divides our digital footprint, but rather multiplies it.
Our consumption of mass media is intriguing. With social media, online videos and audio, plus traditional media, we are rich for choice. Heated discussions often arise from differing opinions and rather than selectively ignore what offends us, we obsessively focus. A recent social media post where the author complained about other posts was akin to someone that objected to a radio station but continued to listen. No doubt others would object to the objecting post! One wonders why we continually indulge in something we object to when choices abound. When attacks become ad hominem, it is time to move on.
Reports indicate four Queensland schools will trial a British software product, “eSafe Global”, to combat cyberbullying. We are progressing, but the journey is long. The application, installed on school devices, monitors activities for specific behaviour. While this implementation assists during school hours and somewhat after hours, it relies on exclusive use of the device. Students also use privately owned devices such as phones, tablets, laptops, and family computers which are likely not included. How do we secure this gap without unnecessary intrusion? How do we address what is fundamentally a people problem, exacerbated by technology, using yet another technical control?
During my school years, I was bullied frequently but my salvation was escaping it by going home when the bell rang. While some abuse occurred away from school, it was minor compared to what children and even some adults face today. Online, they are constantly subjected to abuse without respite. Toxic schoolyards and workplaces are now part of our homes. Abstinence has minimal effectiveness when FOMO keeps us connected. We conveniently blame technology, but bullying is a people problem now exacerbated by technology. We need a fundamental change to mindset and culture beyond technical controls. Virtual actions cause physiological harm.
Our cyber security responsibilities are a “Cyber Grenade” we must carry whether we are aware or not. The more information assurance responsibility we bear, the larger this Cyber Grenade becomes. Its detonation is a matter of “when”, not “if”, and we cannot predict this eventuality; we may only prepare for it. Your Cyber Grenade impacts others and theirs impacts you; the degree is subjective. This situation is manageable, and we can help. Become aware of your responsibility, take reasonable steps to prevent it from happening, have plans to manage the impact, and become able to recover and resume normal operations.