Cyber Behavior

So for my inquiry questions I looked into are people able to compartmentalize and become “different people” when working in a digital rather than physical space. As well as in what ways does being anonymous make us feel safe about making ethically questionable decisions. My opinion on both topics are somewhat bland, as I don’t see myself standing strongly for one reason above another. I think that many factors are at work as to how people act in cyberspace but I do unquestionably believe that people act different from physical space. I mainly want to know why, and what it would take for us to treat each space equally because I spend equal times in both and see them as equally valuable. While I haven’t personally had any exceptionally negative or positive experience I am aware that it is a common problem that affects a large population, especially teenagers. The idea that we can become somebody we are not is thrilling but how far is it okay to take acting before it becomes a serious problem? The answer isn’t clear and that’s what I’m really interested in, the psychology behind how people behave online.

I strongly believe that most people act differently in cyberspace, and most scholars agree with me. The only thing I can really think about disputing is the reasons behind this and possibly the importance of it. I started thinking about whether or not acting like somebody you aren’t is actually worth looking into. However as long as cyber bullying is causing teens to take drastic actions I think there is reason to study more about cyber-behavior. I think a “Yeah but…” approach would be most suited to public opinion on piracy. A general definition of piracy according to average web users seems to be “copying material from an open source” which does not shed light on the stealing aspect. This mindset has foundations since technically nothing is being physically “taken” from somebody however I believe we need to move away from this concept of physicality and think instead about potential loss. Another reason for piracy is that one of our founding fathers Thomas Jefferson was against copyright laws which fuel the legal battles involving piracy. Copyright is an artist or companies right to make profit from their work when it is used, which sounds like a great idea however many complications end up occuring and we end up with things like “Happy Birthday” being copyright 90+ years after it was made. The artist has been long dead and in no way benefits from profits from the use of “Happy Birthday” however it still requires permission from the owning company and a fee to be used. That is why restaurants don’t sing a normal “Happy Birthday” to customers. However copyright has thin lines involving private use which is why it isn’t illegal to sing “Happy Birthday” to your kids. So where does online content fall within a copyright war? Currently copyright laws say that piracy is illegal, however many disagree with that which is why I get to debate this. If something like shoplifting was backed by a copyright mentality people wouldn’t argue about whether or not it should be legal, it would just be illegal and people would be punished for doing it. However thanks to the anonymous nature of the internet we get heated debates about piracy constantly and even big news sites chime in from time to time. Lately scholarly research has gone into cyber behavior and people have started taking these issues seriously.

Following with the “Yeah but…” approach I looked at quotes from my sources and found some interesting debatable statements. From my source on how piracy is good there is a quote “The Congress shall have Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”. This statement is worded with the intent to protect “authors and inventors” from having their writings/inventions stolen before they had the chance to make money on it. It does not imply a sense of security for musicians, filmmakers and so forth, therein begging the question if copyright should even apply to those categories. While many would agree that it should cover all forms of art, that possibly wasn’t the intention of Congress when copyright law was introduced in 1783. Copyright was formed with the intention of letting inventors sell there work before others could build on it, and was never intended to stop people from enjoying music 95+ years after its release. I can see why people commit piracy when such outrageous limitations exist.

From my source from the academic journal of educational computing research (scholarly research), Tanya Beran takes a “Yeah but..” approach herself stating ” Perhaps bullying begins at school and then extends into the home and community through the use of technology” supporting this with stats from the study conducted showing “More than half (64%) of students who were victims of cyber-harassment, also reported victimization by another type of harassment.” This would mean that technology doesn’t change our actions, instead it becomes a medium for them to continue outside of our usual realm of influence. According to this line of thought people don’t compartmentalize in a digital space, rather they import their psychical selves into the digital context making this a concern about human nature instead of technological influence.

I used an article title “The Online Inhibition Effect” and honestly I can’t find anything to dispute in his paper because it directly addressed my opinions on the matter from a scientific view and backed up what I already assumed. For the sake of the assignment there is a phrase “some people report being more like their “true self” while online” where the idea of “true self” probably needs to be more clearly defined. Why can’t a “true self” be a digital self? Why do we assume physical self to be more true than other selves? Many people would say their spiritual self is closer to their “true self”. Limiting the idea of “true self” to a physical real world self is restricting thoughts on how digital selves should be handled. Is a crime committed by a digital self less or more severe than a similar crime committed by a physical self?

As my last source so far I used an online news article titled “The Psychology of Online Comments” by Maria Konnikova. She states “Anonymity … encouraged incivility.” which is a relatively shorten conclusion of her article as a whole. Here I think it would be best if we redefined Anonymity. She uses it to basically be any form of internet usage since for normal people it is hard to respond to a digital mishap even with a real name linked to the account in question. Since people can always make a new account or change their digital name, Konnikova thinks all actions are anonymous. I believe otherwise. Things posted to sites like Facebook or traceable through Linkedin do not have the same anonymity as actual anonymous posts on websites that allow such. If every website enforced real identification to partake in forums or comments her ideas would be shaken. Why do we allow anonymous posters then? And who is to blame when an anonymous post or comment causes serious problems in a digital community?