This BBC clip, available at the time of writing, on how young people are now migrating to less visible virtual environments, makes for fascinating listening:
It’s heartening that the generation below my own and beyond may be seriously evaluating the mistakes and assumptions that Silicon Valley has been making about our alleged disregard for privacy. What’s puzzling, however, is that this link came my way via a tweet which signposted it as an example of “dark social”.
It’s not the first time I’ve seen this term – but I’m seeing it more and more. Is there a deliberate intention by interested parties to define desires for interactions in more private social networks as suspicious impulses in some way? (Much as the inexactly-termed “dark web” or “dark net” – yet again we find it difficult to differentiate between the web and the Internet – is deliberately tarring with the same brush of twilight the perfectly legal behaviours of many.)
I do hope this is not the case; I’d be equally seriously surprised, however, if it were not.
On a related matter, I’ve recently taken to referring to myself as “curmudgeonly”. It’s a satisfactory adjective which allows me to get cross without threatening anyone.
People allow the old to say and do stuff which if expressed and acted out by the young would lead to strong condemnation.
Or resistance at the least.
Or something, anyway.
To be a curmudgeonly late-middle-aged man is surely as harmless as they come.
Or is it?
I wonder if the state of mind in question isn’t a passive-aggressive construct. As such, it’s hardly healthy. Passive-aggressive states of mind mean we refuse to take ownership for our thoughts, acts and beliefs. You could, in fact, argue we were living in a passive-aggressive society. That it was the case, more and more. And that governments around the world have played a key part in this happening.
From imposing web censorship through quangos and third-party communications corporations to removing the disabled from all right to reasonable support by means of scripted tests run by foreign companies to privatising the NHS via sneaky tendering processes, certainly the British government my compatriots and myself have been labouring under has turned passive-aggressive politics into a form of terribly painful art.
I don’t know about your government, but mine certainly has.
So I wonder if my curmudgeonliness isn’t a personal example of the same. By defining myself thus, I find it easier to express hard-won positions in an environment which less and less prizes freedom and liberties.
Just as some are proactively defining more private apps as examples of an emerging “dark social” in an attempt to maintain a status quo, so maybe at the same time I’m copping out by continuing to communicate through the more traditional shared web.
Instead of using – more intelligently; more appropriately perhaps – the private alternatives which are emerging.
Not that they are ever going to be essentially private; we lost that option some time in the last century. But the intentionality and instinct are clearly there.
And the result is a digital footprint for the individual a deal more complicated to track. All of which I feel must be good.
If the generation below mine and beyond are learning from the mistakes we made – our embracing wholeheartedly of a Google, and those which came after, which we believed would not become evil; which we believed would always work for us; which we believed would never turn away from placing us at a virtuously customer-focussed centre – it can only be for the better.
But we need to play our part too.
If technology is to continue to walk with us hand-in-hand, we need to give a helping hand to those technologists who see a different way.
I was wrong, earlier in this post, to talk about Silicon Valley in such a disparaging way. I’m sure there are good people there, just as there are everywhere.
The question is for all us good people everywhere to work out how to get in touch.
If “dark social” it must be, maybe we need more cojones than “curmudgeonly” allows.
Give me a day or two. I’ll think it through.