In 2019, I reacted to a 2008 article by Clive Thompson called, “The Brave New World of Digital Intimacy.” Here’s an excerpt:
In “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy,” Clive Thompson makes a few noteworthy claims. Of the many claims, two struck me. First, the claim that constant self-disclosure outweighs the scary nature of a lack of privacy. And, the rise of ambient awareness is a reaction to social isolation. This reflective piece is a reaction to these claims; claims with which I generally agree. However, mere agreement does not an exciting essay make. My central contention is that it downplays the feeling of a lack of privacy and is myopic in its assessment of the human condition.
To begin, Thompson fails to take privacy seriously enough. He does this by making a point that echoes throughout the piece. This point will be called the 'accustomed case.' The 'accustomed case' goes thus: an individual might be scared of something now, but in due time, he or she becomes accustomed to the phenomena. This is exceptionally eerie because it opens up a can of worms that is the glaring issue in having an involuntary collective as opposed to a voluntary community, to the degree that one exists.
In the conclusion of the piece, he claims that "in an age of awareness, perhaps the person you see most clearly is yourself." I would (and do) agree with this sentiment if humans existed in only one dimension - the individual. But sadly, this is not the case. The individual needs to exist as a member of a community to maintain sanity. Thompson does address this by positing that the popularity of social media is a response to the lack of social bonds. However, a higher degree of self-awareness does not solve the underlying problem of the lack of social relationships. It is akin to playing a virtual reality video game to avoid cleaning one's room.
The issue of privacy is a deeply important topic. Tune in next week for an updated version of this argument.
Certainty Rating: 50%