A friend of mine and his parents are computer programmers. They are in the midst of creating a software that is very similar to We Feel Fine. However, they aren’t creating an Art project, they are creating a database that they pitch to companies as a marketing tool. For example, they will go to a company and tell them that they have a software that can survey the Internet for consumer feelings and sentiment and provide a report that will tell the company exactly what they want to know about their target audience. We Feel Fine is taking our sentiments off the Internet and putting it into book form. In two different ways, We Feel Fine creators as well as my friends are able to profit off public material on the Internet. Are we okay with that? Should we be okay with that?
While We Feel Fine might bring up debates on privacy issues, I think that it is important to talk about our own behavior, versus the people who are just taking advantage of that behavior. People seem quick to defend their intellectual property when they see it used, yet do not think twice about posting very private material in very public places. What is it about the Internet that gives users a sense of security, or even this urge to post statements and feelings that before, they might not even verbalize out loud – and surely they wouldn’t publish publicly?
Ten years ago, people probably wouldn’t post pictures of their weekend all over their office walls, for anyone to see. However, today, come Monday morning, it’s not that strange to post your weekend festivities all over the Internet, for anyone to see. Not only do we not think twice about this, we relish in the thought of posting these photos. We define moments in our life as “oh that would be a great profile pick,” or “this would be such a good photo.” We evaluate our real lives by how they might appear in a condensed online public portrayal. While reading through We Feel Fine, I almost felt uncomfortable reading through statements that were so private and personal, yet so publicly said. And it’s not just a generation thing. Plenty of Internet users that grew up “offline,” are using the Internet in a similarly public fashion than those that grew up “online.” I don’t really have answers to these questions, but it is definitely something we should all think about. I wonder if any of this behavior will change.