Now, in 2012, there are over 900 billion users of Facebook, and a smattering of other social networking sites that operate with tetrabytes of user-generated data every day. Legal analysts show an exponential increase in the use of social networking records in the courtroom for everything from divorce settlements to criminal prosecutions. Employers in both the private and public sector are using social networking access to research and evaluate current and potential employees. Social media companies have provided the tools by which millions have freely publicized their personal information, often in easy-to-consume superficial slices of pictures, text, and video. Whether social media has created a culture of complicity within our society, or whether it was always there and social media allowed it to flourish, we are now a society in which our identities are as much a manifestation of our real life as our online imprint. Whether we think that’s OK or not, almost every one of us is complicit in it.
Gallup polls show that on topics such as homosexuality and reproductive rights, Americans have become more liberal over time. As reported in Slate, in 1977 Americans were evenly split on the legality of homosexual sex, while today Americans are two-thirds in favor of the legality (more of the “keep the government out of the bedroom” mentality). On the topic of gay marriage, again, in 1996 the Americans opposed it 68 percent to 29 percent. Today it’s nearly even, for and against. On a longer timeline, minorities, and before that women, have slowly earned the same rights that white, landowning men have always enjoyed. Culturally, there may still be some distance to go before all people are given the same social considerations, but politically and legally we are marching toward a more liberalized and egalitarian state.