“Remember when, on the Internet, nobody knew who you were?”

Tinder is for dogs
Tinder Is For Dogs (2016) Digital Painting 15.7 H x 15.7 W x 0.1 in

Yesterday was World Dog Day and thanks to these Hallmark holidays – our dogs got treated to that occasional ice cream. One of them is depicted with my iPad in this digital painting inspired by Peter Steiner’s famous 1993 cartoon.

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“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” is an adage which began as a cartoon caption by Peter Steiner and published by The New Yorker on July 5, 1993.
The cartoon marks a notable moment in the history of the Internet. Once the exclusive domain of government engineers and academics, the Internet had by then become a subject of discussion in general interest magazines like The New Yorker.

The phrase can be taken “to mean that cyberspace will be liberatory because gender, race, age, looks, or even ‘dogness’ are potentially absent or alternatively fabricated or exaggerated with unchecked creative license for a multitude of purposes both legal and illegal. The phrase also suggests the ability to “computer cross-dress” and represent oneself as a different gender, age, race, etc.

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The cartoon has inspired the play Nobody Knows I’m a Dog by Alan David Perkins. The play revolves around six different individuals unable to communicate effectively with people in their lives who find the courage to socialize on the Internet, protected by their anonymity.

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A cartoon by Kaamran Hafeez published in The New Yorker on February 23, 2015 features a similar pair of dogs watching their owner sitting at a computer, with one asking the other, “Remember when, on the Internet, nobody knew who you were?”

Today, everyone has an identity online – albeit a manufactured one. We are our own image consultants. However, the new Generation Z, born after 1993 is seeking online anonymity unlike the generations before them. Most siblings, parents, uncles and aunts crowd social media sites like Facebook so Gen Z is seeking newer, anonymous places to hangout like Whisper, Wishbone and of course Snapchat.

Are you concerned at all about online privacy? What is your preferred tool to socialize online?

6 thoughts on ““Remember when, on the Internet, nobody knew who you were?”

  1. I’ve deactivated most social accounts because i got tired of them. Forget privacy – It depressed me to be honest. I prefer Snapchat and my good ol phone these days. Im hoping for the next wave of innovation in social media.

  2. I have become selective about where I leave my digital footprint. I often find angry reviews people have written years ago when I google their names. They’ve probably forgotten about them but it helps others form strong unflattering perceptions about them. My solution -google yourself regularly.

  3. I’m so glad I grew up at a time where there were no smartphones – hence no embarrassing photos of teenage ‘moments’. Everybody today knows that the internet never forgets. Probably why apps like Snapchat are so popular. No one wants to live with their stupidity forever.

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