There For Thousands of Eyes to See

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In Margaret Atwood’s article, “Atwood in the Twittersphere,” she reflects upon her beginning experiences using Twitter, which at first she thought “was for kiddies”. Twitter is a social network with which you can follow your friends, family, and even people you don’t know and be updated with whatever they post, or “tweet”. In the words of Atwood, “Let’s just say it’s communication, and communication is something human beings like to do.” Whether you’re engaging in conversations by commenting on others’ tweets or just throwing out your own lines of random thoughts, your every word is monitored by your followers. Atwood says comments about her own followers, “They’re sharp: make a typo and they’re on it like a shot, and they tease without mercy.”

A major difference between everyday verbal communication and written communication online is that what you submit through the Web remains there. Sure, Atwood’s spelling errors that are caught by her followers are not that great of a concern; but when it comes to saying things that you could regret later on, you’re out of luck. Atwood even reacts to her words published in her online article,

“Oops! I shouldn’t have said that. Which is typical of “social media”: you’re always saying things you shouldn’t have said…come to think of it: once decrees and blessings have made it out of the mouth—or now, in the 21st century, out of the ends of the fingers and past the Send button—you can’t take them back.”

This brings me back to Twitter and having followers. I followed Margaret Atwood today, and guess how many people are following her…392,290! That means that there are 784,580 eyeballs (thank you, phone calculator) that can be reading about anything from what she had for dinner to her thoughts on works that her fans send her to read. No matter what you decide to post online—whether it is something silly with little significance, something inspirational/informative or something you wish you hadn’t said—it will reside in cyberspace and may potentially be remembered by those who are connected to you. Even pictures are krazy-glued to the Web with the click of a mouse (what’s left of them) or a tap of a finger. My intention of this response is not to go all “Big Brother” on the idea of publishing things online. We all have posted something; it has become a part of life…and for some people, it is their life. I feel that we sometimes forget who our audience is; not only that, we don’t think before we type. We can believe that our actions online will disappear by logging out and shutting down our laptops…if only it was that simple! #besmart #thinkahead

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One thought on “There For Thousands of Eyes to See

  1. I loved this article Jen! The idea of permanence works in so well with the theme of my blog (etiquette). I must admit that before i post anything on the internet I triple check for any spelling or grammar mistakes. Although I am aware if I make a mistake it won’t be the end of the world, I would still be embarrassed that I made that mistake especially because I judge others harshly if they make spelling or grammar mistakes that I find easy. I loved when you said that people think our actions online will disappear once we log off and shut down- I think this hit the nail on the head! I think that this is a HUGE part of younger people’s lives and I can tell just by using my younger sister as an example. I truly do not believe she understand the concept that mean things said on the internet stay there forever and can not be erased with an apology later. I think she could definitely use a lesson in the permanence of things said on the internet ( as well as etiquette because then she wouldn’t say anything mean in the first place!).
    Also, didn’t you think Margaret Atwood was fabulous!? I loved how many issues with social media she pointed out so quickly.

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