But what if we just didn’t know? Couldn’t ignorance be bliss? The problem is that many are using the Internet without, “the cognitive ability to appreciate the possible consequences of disclosure of personal information” (Friedman and Thomas). Even something as simple as describing one’s daily route to school for a class project in following directions and then posting it online could potentially allow a stalker or harm doer to more easily make one a target. Beyond the web, imagine how one’s SIM card could be used in their telephone. Whenever you walk by the GAP in a mall, it will send you a text message with their latest sale offer (Friedman and Thomas). It can be scanned as you enter and exit so that there is a record of where you have been. Again and again, the trust between the user and anonymous continues to break down if we don’t know and understand the implications of sharing information digitally.

I still think that the academic community is looking too hard for experts to find the solution to these problems. This is a problem that needs to be solved by the masses. Where the experts can help is to understand whether the issues we are dealing with are inherent to the Internet or simply a function of computer software in general (Tavani). There needs to be an emphasis on better software design, this is true, but, in the absence of improved code, there needs to be an information revolution on the Internet. The users of this domain have to demand that their information be used within the limits they impose, and the companies need to respect these demands. The need to deliver the solution that aides the least well-off is important to ensuring that as the Internet grows, the information in it does not become a threat to our identity. Furthermore, the users need to become better educated about what they should and should not expose about themselves. Finally, there needs to be a greater sense of trust between users. The Internet shouldn’t be a playing field for harm doers. It’s up to the users to make sure that these issues are solved.

Being on the Internet is a tight rope act between finding what used to be unknown and leaving a trail where one can be followed. Constantly wiping out the trail behind you makes the process of “surfing the web” much more difficult, but is probably a necessary action in today’s Internet (Tips). However, even this done well might not be enough. The real solution is exposing the Internet for what it is, an elevator where everyone is listening even if they are acting as if they aren’t paying attention, and moving from there to develop a more participatory solution to the issues presented.

As I have stressed throughout most of this paper, I think that education is an important marker of progress in dealing with this topic. How can we educate about something abstract like the Internet? Bring it into our curricula and help develop good browsing techniques. Show students that the Internet isn’t about pornography, social networking sites, and online games. Create the paradigm of a digital identity successfully so that future generations are able to know the difference between their physical self and their online persona.