Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hackers & the Boundaries Between Private, Personal, Communal and Public

Amidst all of this discussion for IC2643, it's been mentioned that we should explore what is private, personal, communal, and public. While so far this semester I've had some fantastic conversations about these spheres of life, what I'm hanging on to right now is concept of hackers. No connection, right? Wrong.

A hacker violates the boundaries between these four spheres, when our private or personal information is violated and dragged out into the public eye for scrutiny, abuse, judgment or even just awareness. I guess this leaves me asking, how is the community, the church, supposed to respond when those boundaries are abruptly violated, digitally or otherwise? 

Last week the discussion came up about our neighbors being disruptive and generative, well, a hacker is a really disruptive neighbor. Sure, there are things that we as individuals and we as corporations like the church can do to protect ourselves, the community we serve, and the social media we use from these types of disruptions, but inevitably dese tings do 'appen (Oh, Phantom!). What do we do then?

As a gamer and all around internet nerd, I myself have been hacked in a few things, and luckily nothing extreme! But I do know from experience that these 'tings' can be as little as a hiccup in your day, and as big as major effort and work to recover what you once had, be it all of your cool gaming armor, or the emails containing your thesis documents, or your credit score, financial records, and shutting down accounts that may have been created with your information. For most larger bodies, companies and churches and the like, there are NUMEROUS resources for retrieving compromised information and re-obtaining account accesses, and the damage can often be contained very quickly. What I have noticed is that for many personal accounts, whether it be emails, facebook, or games, things can escalate quickly and often little support exists within either the web or personal community. So, what does all of this have to do with the ecology of our communities of faith in a social media world?

The people affected by these types of hacking situations are part of our congregations, and part of our larger interacting community. I'm not proposing that the church become integrally involved in the technological problems of everyone in their community, but how about a little acknowledgement for someone's love of facebook and the relationships that can be hurt by a malicious local hacker spreading rumors, gossip, or slandering friends, or someone's love of gaming and the hours they've poured into a high-level character only to have all of their amassed things be sold off and the money stolen. What those affected by identity theft, which is primarily a digital crime? For digital natives especially, these are not only real problems, but real problems that hurt us and make us leery of our communities both online and in real life, and they can be even more jarring for those who are digital foreigners and the like.

What I'm trying to say here is that along with new ways of communicating and interacting with one another, a series of new problems and concerns arises. A series of problems that most corporate bodies haven't figured out how to address effectively.  I'm trying to be more conscious of this in my day to day life with the people I actually meet, but it often gets laid to the side once I leave work because it's part of my job description. I struggle to assist  in the plight of my friends when they experience these issues, and mostly just end those conversations with, "I've been there, I'm sorry it's happening."


  1. I'm glad you posted about hacking. I've been hacked as well and it's no fun. I wonder how we as a community can support and journey with those who have been hacked. Commiserating only goes so far. Is it possible for us to journey with or connect people us who can help newer members of the digital age first to set up more secure systems and second to help them correct the issues when they ultimately occur? I really don't know, but you are correct in the fact that hackers are very disruptive neighbors but they are still our neighbors.

  2. Thanks much for bringing up this hacker issue. It reminds me that there's disruptive neighbors, then there's disruptive neighbors. One disrupts our overly, and illusory, self-assured and self-secured worlds, and the other disrupts our appropriate and needed security and integrity. I'm wondering if others have thought more about this.