The de-evolution of human interest

Consumed by phones, train riders miss slaying

I just came across this story while looking for something to read in my CNN iPhone application. I have always been witness to the de-evolution of human interest and interaction, brought about by the very thing I am writing this post from, my smart phone. Ironic how things come about, isn’t it? However, I have always believed there to be an appropriate time and place to indulge in my many iPhone applications.
It’s funny to think of now because I have always been the girl who didn’t have the latest technology; I didn’t get a cell phone until I was 16, and it was a prepaid flip phone. Because I didn’t have a smart phone to distract me, I would always be the odd man out when I was ‘hanging out’ with my friends. I mean, I get it, people like to be connected; but people continue to be disconnected from their physical and tangible realities! What happened to real connections? Human connections? Face to face encounters?
In the competition of our digital age, people are primarily concerned by their virtual web presence rather than the happenings of the “here and now.”
It is because of this, because of our infatuation with virtual reality, that we as humans forget that we are humans.
The above article is absolutely heartbreaking. I am presently at a loss for words. My condolences to the young man’s family and loved ones.

Biometric Authentication & Personal Security

“To invoke Fifth Amendment protection, there may be a difference between things we have or are — and things we know.”

-MARCIA HOFMANN.

The other week, I was in a Verizon store about to purchase an iPhone. While there, I ran into a gentleman who informed me to wait to get the iPhone because they were coming out with something new. Intrigued, I asked him to proceed; it was the first that I had heard the news. As he explained the new features, I found myself to be unimpressed and quite disturbed. The idea that we have the technology to authenticate identity through biometrics somewhat bewilders me. I remember when I was a child and always wanted my own personal robot; I realize that my iPhone is my little robot and I’m not ready for it to have my fingerprint. What would it mean for Apple to store my fingerprint? What implications does this have on my personal security and known information? “Apple has stated on record that they do not store fingerprints, and nor does the device. Instead, the iPhone stores the result of a check — a “hash,” which may be unique, but can’t reveal your fingerprint.” This statement is somewhat ambiguous because it’s jargon does not appeal to the average user; i.e. “check”, “hash”? Does this mean that Apple’s new technologies are also ambiguous? I shop online all the time, and sometimes use applications from my iPhone to do so. How easy could someone access my card information through my fingerprint when purchasing with my iPhone? Other private information? Apple has assured that the company nor the device itself, will store fingerprints. Despite this assurance, I am still left in doubt. Therefore while contemplating my iPhone purchase, I decided that I was too hesitant to wait for iPhone’s newest technologies. I am not personally ready to use biometric authentication technologies. I will however, continue to research related technologies to familiarize myself with this astonishing advancement in technology.

See for reference:

http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/09/the-unexpected-result-of-fingerprint-authentication-that-you-cant-take-the-fifth/

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/13/opinion/apple-iphone-fingerprint-privacy-opinion/index.html

Bullying and Social Media

Friends: 15-year-old Connecticut boy who committed suicide was bullied

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/02/us/connecticut-teen-suicide/index.html?hpt=us_c1

Does anyone find it disturbing that so many instances of bullying has led to suicide amoung our nation’s youth? I have come to know that bullying takes on many forms and is acted out in various ways such as: face to face bullying, backhanded comments, gossiping, ostrasizing individuals, name calling, and so on. While bullying is prevelent in the school yard, a lot of children and teens are abused online. Children these days do not understand the power of written words on social media web sites. I cannot count how many times I have been watching the news or reading an article online about students who commit suicide after being cyberbullied. When someone posts something embarrassing about you online, there isn’t much you can do about it. The fact that it is available for everyone to see and comment on or “like” is completely destructive to a sensitive individual. I, myself, am no stranger to bullying. Unfortunately I have had to go through periods of social media bullying as well. However, some children and teenagers are not as fortuante to know to let it go. Instead, these individuals let it consume them and pushes them into bouts of depression and/or social anxiety. Feeling as if they have no alternatives, many of these individuals choose to commit suicide. The above article speaks of a 15-year-old student who committed suicide due to his own experiences with bullying. I find it sad that he chose to flippantly express himself over Google+ posting, “Hey if I were to stab my eye out due to school caused insanity, who would miss me?” The article states that he posted a picture of himself holding a knife to his eye. I mean, come on! Where are the parents here? Why weren’t his parents investigating his social media web sites. Perhaps it is because they are not as tech savvy and do not understand that there are so many outlets for online expression. The parents did however attempt to inform the school about the situation but obviously, nothing significant was done to remedy the instances of bullying.

It is situations like this that I am an advocate for online literacy. Literacy isn’t only about knowing and learning about the ways in which an individual can express his or herself, but it is also about how to access this information, interpret it, and reach out to people who may need help. I think it is important for students to learn how to conduct themselves appropriately in online situations. The only downfall of communicating online is that there is no way to understand the tone behind someone’s post. For example, I could post on my Facebook, “So excited that it’s September!” but that sentence could be interpreted differently to different people. It may be genuine and I could be excited that it is September, but it could also be sarcastic. This is why posting sensitive information online is tricky. There isn’t any way to say that you need help unless you actually spell it out and say what you mean and mean exactly what you say. I hope that students will learn how to identify social problems that exist online and address them so that we do not have to read or hear about another student committing suicide because someone said they were awkward in a social media post.