Left on Read

Essentially, the main goal of the ARPAnet shifted focus multiple times. In the beginning, it was intended to share resources among government-run organizations and universities; as computers became more accessible, the formalities and norms loosened up and people began using it for emails. I am interested in the subtle cultural and societal shift that made computer users feel like it was okay to use email to ask someone to retrieve their razor from across the globe.

The Internet has become so available to everyone that it has lost its air of ceremony. Nowadays, I will literally text someone who is right next to me without giving it a second thought. How does this affect the way in which we present ourselves and communicate? I think even the medium and which app we use affect the way we post and share with the world. For example, Twitter seems to be home to senseless memes and personal posts. Facebook is usually reserved for large photo albums of vacations or fervent political opinions from your poorly informed Aunt Sharon. Instagram boasts perfectly exposed photos with a strategically chosen filter coupled with a clever caption–unless it’s a Finsta, then it’s a free-for-all private account where the typical criteria for being socially acceptable does not apply. And you can’t forget Snapchat, a platform to present the best 10-60 seconds of your day which will inflict symptoms of FOMO (fear of missing out) on its viewers.

Not to mention, toward the end of the last discussion, the class sort of erupted in chatter over a shared experience, or rather, something I actually knew about–being left on read. It’s the phenomenon when someone i.e. a crush opens your message without sending a response. How did it get from “finger protocol” to “being left on read”? Finger protocol seemed innocent and useful in nature, but it’s difficult to know where to draw the line; the implications it imposes on personal privacy and security are still being debated today. It’s a complex and redundant social sphere out there, but it really isn’t that serious… or is it? I mean, Harvard rescinded acceptances over offensive memes in a group chat, and people with a bulk of followers receive money for the promotion of products. I’m talking enough to make a living, and a rather luxurious one.

It’s a tricky and abstract network to navigate, but it can pose real consequences and real benefits. The Internet didn’t even exist not that long ago, but humans have already applied their natural gravitation toward hierarchical taxonomy and structured norms to the social aspects. It is no longer a purely personal preference on how much social media intrudes in our lives when the President’s tweets are a part of the national archive. On the bright side, we still have the powerful tool of action and reaction, and social media allows us to send a clear message to rest of the world.


2 thoughts on “Left on Read

  1. I’m enjoying reading your posts. Several other students wrote about changing norms, and you might want to read what they posted (and they what you’ve written). In particular, I had already read and commented on Sarah Lucioni’s and Sam Gould’s similar, but different, thoughts. (I’ll try to read yours first next time so that I can point them to your blog!)

    Now I’m reading about this whole “Left on Read” phenomenon that I never knew existed. Boy I’m getting old …

  2. I do find it interesting that, no matter what the original intent was for the Internet, it has become used for communication between the users. And once it gets used for communication, it can be used for intimacy, support, and friendship; but also for games, posing, and cruelty. The technology changes, but the users don’t…

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