Another Risk in Cyberspace

Victor Mayer Schoenberger noted the common and well publicized concern regarding billions of Facebook messages, the more than 300,000 daily tweets plus private e-mail accounts with their messages, photos, and videos. However the concern usually expressed regards violations of privacy and, perhaps, identity theft. Schoenberger was concerned what it can do to Thanksgiving if the warmth and joy is lost when we keep being reminded of every mistake, every quarrel, every disagreement.1 Schoenberger concern extends far beyond Thanksgiving and has written a book on the topic: Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age.

In the lingo of the Healthymemory Blog, this is a problem with technical transactive memory. Technical transactive memory does not decay or transform, in contrast to human transactive memory that does decay and is modified every time it tried to recall something. People complain about what they forget. Although it is certainly true that we forget information that we want and sometimes need to recall, much forgetting is adaptive. This is especially true to relations with our fellow humans. Hurtful and embarrassing items are forgotten. This forgetting makes it much easier to forgive and forget.

It is very important to remember this when sending something into cyberspace. It could lead to embarrassing and possibly indictable information becoming public. It could reunion friendships and create new enemies. Now who needs more enemies? Unfortunately, technology frequently has the opposite effect. When there is a computer between people and the target of their animosity, sometimes the vitriol is unfortunately increased. This is what happens in flaming.

We should think and behave carefully when sending anything into cyberspace, remembering that it is literally “for keeps.” So to avoid losing friends, gaining enemies, or being indicted, be careful and circumspect about what you send to cyberspace!

1Meyer-Schoenberger, V. (2012). Washington Post, B2, Sunday November 25, B2.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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