protection is all around us.. and it is us.
our biggest problem perhaps..
is that we keep getting in the way.. of protection.. of us.
we design for safety – and we’re less safe.. parks vs street
designing a city for the blind. the blind see more
One of the most crucial aspects of coming of age is learning how to navigate public life. The teenage years are precisely when people transition from being a child to being an adult. There is no magic serum that teens can drink on their 18th birthday to immediately mature and understand the world around them. Instead, adolescents must be exposed to — and allowed to participate in — public life while surrounded by adults who can help them navigate complex situations with grace. They must learn to be a part of society, and to do so, they must be allowed to participate.
listening (or not) with an agenda.. that’s more attuned with punishment than protection
our deep concern for protection – gets lost in the next shiny thing, we see shiny as a potential for salvation
The media coverage focuses on how the posts that they are monitoring are public, suggesting that this excuses their actions because “no privacy is violated.” We should all know by now that this is a terrible justification. Just because teens’ content is publicly accessible does not mean that it is intended for universal audiences nor does it mean that the onlooker understands what they see. (Alice Marwick and I discuss youth privacy dynamics in detail in “Social Privacy in Networked Publics”.) But I want to caution against jumping to the opposite conclusion because these cases aren’t as simple as they might seem.
What became clear in this incident – and many others that I tracked – is that there are plenty of youth crying out for help online on a daily basis. Youth who could really benefit from the fact that their material is visible and someone is paying attentionUrban theorist Jane Jacobs used to argue that the safest societies are those where there are “eyes on the street.” What she meant by this was that healthy communities looked out for each other, were attentive to when others were hurting, and were generally present when things went haywire. How do we create eyes on the digital street
How do we do so in a way that’s not creepy? When is proactive monitoring valuable for making a difference in teens’ lives? How do we make sure that these same tools aren’t abused for more malicious purposes?
What matters is who is doing the looking and for what purposes. When the looking is done by police, the frame is punitive. But when the looking is done by caring, concerned, compassionate people – even authority figures like social workers – the outcome can be quite different. However well-intended, law enforcement’s role is to uphold the law and people perceive their presence as oppressive even when they’re trying to help. And, sadly, when law enforcement is involved, it’s all too likely that someone will find something wrong. And then we end up with the kinds of surveillance that punishes.
If there’s infrastructure put into place for people to look out for youth who are in deep trouble, I’m all for it. But the intention behind the looking matters the most. When you’re looking for kids who are in trouble in order to help them, you look for cries for help that are public. If you’re looking to punish, you’ll misinterpret content, take what’s intended to be private and publicly punish, and otherwise abuse youth in a new way.
and otherwise abuse youth in a new way.and otherwise abuse youth in a new way.and otherwise abuse youth in a new way.