by Madeleine Chan, Opinions Editor
Remember the good ol’ days of the Internet, back when there weren’t 50 million different video-posting websites, social media apps, and messaging platforms? I do, but just barely. It seems like the growth of the Internet, and subsequently the commercialization of it, has spurred the need for multiple methods to communicate, entertain, and live online. SFU has even adopted some of these excessive methods for classes and events. However, this exorbitant number of electronic channels shouldn’t be celebrated, but seen as unnecessary and potentially harmful for those who delve into their excessivity.
To preface, I’m the type of person that really would just do away with all digital platforms if I could. But I know that I’ve signed up for countless accounts for websites that I’ve only used once, messaged the same people on different apps, and consumed entertainment media in more than one place. It’s not a bad thing to use multiple digital networks because socializing, work, entertainment, and other facets of life are so intrinsically filtered through them. But does that mean we should be forced to use them, or that more video calls apps than I can count should exist? For the sake of proficiency and privacy, no.
Other than the electronic overload that the sheer number of these platforms impose, they also bring up privacy concerns. Every website isn’t out to get a user’s information, but they do retain their information in some manner, and there’s always the risk of it being stolen by external parties. We shouldn’t have to make accounts and unnecessarily share data with multitudes of companies when it’s enough of a risk with just a couple.
One example of a platform that doesn’t need to exist is Hopin, a video event website that was used for the SFSS’ Clubs Days. To start, the website didn’t even function well. There were constant connection drop-outs from multiple participants, confusing interface controls, and the website kicked everyone out the second the event was scheduled to end. It would have served students better if the already-familiar, already-tested Zoom was utilized so that they didn’t have to wrestle with a completely new interface.
The SFSS likely used Hopin because the school apparently recommends avoiding Zoom whenever possible as they store their data outside of Canada. These data concerns are valid, but when students are already so used to other platforms like Zoom, switching doesn’t seem worth the hassle. Not to mention the fact that students have to give their data to a website that they will use at most three times a year at SFU.
It’s not just Hopin that students have to use to participate in events and classes at SFU. I’ve heard of annotation websites and voice communication apps being mandatory for classes. While online interaction requires increased use of digital platforms, students shouldn’t be forced to create extra accounts and put their information at risk to learn and socialize.
This doesn’t mean that there should only be one all-encompassing website, like Facebook is trying to be, or that there can’t be economic competition on the Internet. It’s just that if there are already thousands of instant messaging apps, people shouldn’t need more, and SFU shouldn’t be forcing us to use new platforms if we don’t have to. The majority of students’ lives are lived through screens now anyway, we don’t need any extra hassle of navigating the labyrinths and pitfalls they may bring.