By Dennis D. McDonald
I wonder if someday -- perhaps sooner than later -- we'll see a rejection by some groups of social networking technologies that many, including me, now view as evolutionary and inevitable.
Perhaps the basis for such "movements" will be a spreading fear of a continued loss of privacy due to increasing government or commercial surveillance. Perhaps a religion-based opposition will arise to the artificial intimacy promoted by virtual worlds and increasingly sophisticated multimedia-based social networking. Perhaps opposition will emerge to genetic screening that is used to isolate and economically discriminate against those known to harbor certain disease-related genetic characteristics. Social networking and social media, by enabling and promoting the sharing of information once thought to be personal and private, might be viewed as enablers of these scenarios.
Social, ethical, and religious movements -- even revolutions -- have a way of surprising us. There was a time, for example, when many thought that universal web access would automatically advance the cause of liberty, freedom, and democracy, perhaps even by fostering social and political revolutions. Yet we see every day how governments and terrorist movements use these same electronic tools to promote oppression and fear.
How big or influential such anti-social-networking movements might become is difficult to say. Perhaps isolated "anti technology" cults will arise that establish self-sustaining communities in remote geographic locations. Perhaps entrepreneurs will emerge who, for a fee, will gradually extricate clients from the systems and databases that now entwine them.
Throughout history we have seen other examples of social movements that resisted popular religious, medical, or scientific beliefs. The potential rise of anti-social-networking groups, perhaps dedicated not to wholesale opposition to technology but to opposition to the sharing of identity related information, should therefore not come as a surprise.