“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”; a caption that goes along with a Peter Steiner cartoon that was published in The New Yorker roughly ten years ago. This specific cartoon was brought up in class and was a key part of the Nakamura reading. As we all know by now, it points to the fact that there are countless amounts of people who go on-line and deceit others about who they truly are. This is something that has become ridiculously easy to do on the Internet. Now there are people who claim that this is a major problem because of Pedophiles and hackers, which I think is a little extreme. I too am against lying on the Internet, but I’m thinking of it in a more day to day or practical sense, like trolling. That’s why I thought it would be good to tackle the topic from the other side, to take a different point of view, and point out some possible positives.
This weeks specific topic is performing identities broken down into race, ethnicity and class, so that is a good place to start. It’s no secret that the “norm” in our country is whiteness. No matter what minority group a person may belong to, there are probably going to be some built in obstacles that they have to face, and that are foreign to Caucasians. That doesn’t have to be the case On-line however. And I’m not saying a African American man should go On-line and act like a white person (but if they want to who am I to say don’t), but rather I’m saying they don’t have to say anything. You can make it so no one can see what you physically look like, so unless you specifically state otherwise, I think most people assume sameness on-line. People you interact with have no reason to think anyone they talk to is different than them, and having that “even playing field” probably doesn’t hurt anyone.
Talking in terms of class is sort of the same thing. If a person who comes from poverty can get on-line and make a profile in a forum that reflects that of a wealthy man/woman, who is that hurting? All they are trying to do is forget about the problems that they are facing when they step away from that computer. To me, that is the key. For many people, the Internet allows for escapism. That is something that I think everyone should be able to relate to. Maybe if you’re having a bad day you jump on Youtube and watch a silly video, and that cheers you up. Great! Well what about a person who is having more than a bad day, they’re having a pretty crappy life (for whatever reason, spanning far past just race and class). Should we really get up in arms if they want to go On-line and be someone else so they can cheer up?
I don’t like dealing with trolls anymore than the next person and in no way, shape or form do I want pedophiles on-line trying to deceive children, but there are some false persona’s that I don’t have a problem with on the Internet. As long as they aren’t causing any harm, people can be whoever they want to be in my eyes.
That said I know plenty of people don’t like being duped. That said one thing I wanted to ask all of you guys is how you would feel if someone got you caught up in a story you found to be untrue? If it entertained or even inspired you, would you be mad to find out it was false; or as long as you’re not hurt (say financially) do you not care?