Reading Response #7
to Artful Design • Chapter 7: “Social Design”
Music 256A / CS476a, Stanford University
From this week's reading, I'd like to respond to Artful Design Principle 7.7 which states:
Principle 7.7: A Little Anonymity Can Go A Long Way
In chapter seven of the book Artful design, the focus is on the topic of social design and what it means to effectively consider the human portion of creation. This is discussed in a number of different ways from a variety of angles, including what the reasons for creation are, what we as people want when it comes to interacting with each other over a new medium, and what kinds of interactions with each other we would even want to consider creating or encountering. While there were many profound ideas in this chapter the one that stuck out to me most of all was principle 7.7, called “A Little Anonymity Can Go A Long Way”. This discussion and topic overall immediately struck me as true, and profound. I happen to personally really agree through personal experience and from what I have observed as a quiet participant on the internet. That may sound strange but what I mean by that is I have many different apps and social media accounts but rarely use them in any way that involves posting or engaging with people I know. There are a few reasons for this, one being that I have always been afraid of posting something that would come back to haunt me since that is the warning I received often, in my early life. Many children my age growing up I believe received this similar message since we grew up alongside the technologies that have blossomed into our lives today. Yes, technologies have been advancing quickly for much longer than I have been alive (I was born in 2001), but I feel a particular connection to this idea since apple seemed to be making huge advancements as I grew up, and many other companies had new products that were becoming much more accessible to the general population. Technology wasn’t just evolving, it was being integrated more and more fully into our social lives. I feel that this change into becoming more of a social media world was a landmark of the decades I happened to be growing up in. And this change has been both helpful, and harmful. But more than anything else, it has just been different.
Looking at this concept of anonymity is familiar because I have seen it discussed many times for its strangeness, wonder, and dangers. There is power in being able to say anything without consequence, and some say it is an easy way to show who you really are at your core. To live without consequence is to see your morality fully freed to do as it wants. People can be using this in the worst ways, or to open up and get the help they really need. I've seen mean comments because of anonymity, and I've seen personal stories posted to others about topics they haven't even told to the people closest to them, but have told to hundreds of other strangers. And that can be healing in a really profound way.
This is harder to find in real life, but I will say that this idea is something me and my family really take full advantage of while on vacations. Mostly, because we do not care about our outfits, or our hair, or our makeup and other things people feel the need to maintain with those they need a more “professional demeanor”. This might be one of my favorite things about a vacation at all, is because, for the first time in a long time, I feel like I can go somewhere without worrying that I will ruin my reputation or personal image by not making an effort to go and do the things I want to do. Like going to a grocery store, in the ugliest outfit, you have ever seen, but the most comfortable and stress-free geting ready process I have ever experienced. I think decisions make the brain exhausted, and I think when you have to constantly consider what possible repercussions could occur when you interact with people, its an exhaustion that limits your ability to be who you want to be. Maybe I am just antisocial, but I think everyone experiences this feeling, and I think anonymity, even when sometimes dangerous, can be one of the greatest experiences of our lifetimes.