So I got the Buzz in my Gmail, and my first thought was pretty much the same first thought I had when I got the Wave. I immediately realized that people were not going to realize that Buzz is a public venue. So I Buzzed a Buzz about this, and even went so far as to Tweet a Tweet on the subject. Then I pretty much just forgot about it.
But this morning, I saw a Tweet that linked to this blog post, (see below) detailing a person’s issues with Buzz. Go ahead – follow the link and read the post. I’ll wait.
Read it? Good. Now go back and read it again, only this time, instead of thinking of the author as a victim, think of the author as computer user in the new millenium. I’ll wait again.
Done? Okay – let’s look at the scorecard, shall we?
First off, I don’t subscribe to the idea that victim-hood earns anybody any sort of preferential treatment, but in this case I’ll make an exception: +100 points.
Next, for confusing privacy with anonymity: -50 stupid points.
For failing to read terms of agreement and privacy statements but bitching about them anyway: -50 stupid points.
For thinking the internet is an anonymous place: -50 stupid points.
For thinking you could remain anonymous while blogging: -50 stupid points.
For having your abusive ex-husband in your Gmail contacts: Okay, this one is beyond stupid. I see this happening one of two ways: either the author is still sending e-mail to the abusive ex, or the author failed to change e-mail address after getting rid of abusive ex. In either case, we’re looking at something like -1,000 stupid points.
For bitching at Google for failing to protect your anonymity when you yourself have been actively working in the opposite direction: -100 stupid points.
So our grand total is -1,200 stupid points. Congratulations – you’re stupid!
I mean – really. Can we use our brains just a little here, folks? I feel for the author. I really do. I feel for all victims, and I believe that in the case of rapists, the logical thing to say is: “Bailiff – plug in the chair.” But Google did not victimize the author, and the author’s anger toward Google is inappropriate and misplaced. If anything, we should be thanking Google. Buzz is serving as a timely reminder of the realities of the internet, realities that often escape the modern social-networker and/or blogger. Let’s review:
The internet is a public place.
There is no anonymity on the internet. I cannot stress this one enough. Every time you go online, your computer is talking to other computers AND THEY ARE EXCHANGING INFORMATION. Haven’t you ever noticed how many websites know where you live, despite the fact that you never told them? That’s because your computer did tell them.
Don’t ever send anything over the internet unless you’re willing to share it with the world. Seriously. While there IS some level of privacy on the internet, it can rather easily be invaded (just like in the real world).
Privacy and anonymity are not the same thing. And almost no one promises to protect your anonymity online.
All I’m saying is that you should have some idea what the internet IS before you start playing with it. And don’t bitch at Google because you approached the internet with incorrect assumptions.
And 50 bonus points if you get the reference in the title of this post.
Update: Looks like somebody finally figured out a thing or two about the internet and privacy. The blog linked to above is now inaccessible. A smart move, methinks. If you want to read the text of the original post, it can be found here.