WE HAVE been talking a lot about ‘digital’ in The Evening Times offices these past few weeks.

Of course, if anyone has been watching The Papers, they will understand that this is not an uncommon occurrence for a newsroom these days – in fact, I have never worked in an office that hasn’t employed digital methods and equipment.

I was lucky enough to have a childhood that was only half-dominated by the power of a glowing screen, and before the days of dialling modems to connect to MSN chat rooms I remember the stretch of long, internet-free summers. I am the last generation to remember that.

It’s only natural, then, that in joining the work-force I too am joining the digital fore, and specifically as part of a digital reporting team. Last week’s episode of The Papers displayed the growing need for digital news and also, sadly, its effect on traditional print journalism – although I (perhaps naively) am still of the opinion that the printed word has a way to go before it dies out. Yes, we receive our breaking news bulletins in little pings to our phones or computers. However, there is still something very authoritarian and attractive about reading the news in print, and psychologically things are felt to have more truth if they are printed out. So where does that leave us digital natives in the online news rooms of future titles?

We are in the age of ‘digital intimacy’ – which means to say that everything feels very close to us. In the powerful machine that I hold in my hand I can not only tell the time and use maps, but I can call my nearest and dearest, move money from different accounts, even use a torch. I can read today’s news, yesterday’s news – I can even begin to write tomorrow’s news, as I am doing now. What can’t I do?

Thinking about ‘digital’ becomes specially interesting when we think about the digital and the human, because the human seems to be the one thing that digital cannot beat. Not to say that it isn’t getting close – in fact, I believe that the boundaries between the two are becoming extremely blurred, and that is what brings me to write about ‘digital intimacy’.

My phone gives the potential to arrange a date with a real life human as soon as this evening. Before my new colleague started work, I spoke to her on Twitter to welcome her to the office and break the ice. It allows me to stretch across place and time and even the unknown to talk to people who I am yet to meet. I regularly type into emails that it is ‘nice to meet’ the people I speak to, even though it is highly unlikely I will ever come to shake the hand that types the reply.

The profound human potential of the digital, which allows me to warp and bend the boundaries of location and history, has its drawbacks.

Last week I reported victim reactions to the conviction of ‘Addy A Game’.

A ‘pick-up artist’ who filmed himself approaching women in Glasgow and uploaded the footage onto his YouTube to ‘teach’ other men to approach women, Adnan Ahmed was convicted of charges similar to harassment and breach of the peace, as many of the women felt violated by his presence complete lack of regard for personal space and privacy.

Many of the victims said that after initially approaching them, Ahmed’s violation of privacy continued in the digital sphere. In my experience, I can think of a plethora of times where men have crossed boundaries online or over the phone. I entered a career in journalism on my experience of being ‘catfished’: I had a relationship with a person over digital platforms who was pretending to be another person.

The digital element added greyness and shadows to what should have been black and white, giving a new meaning to ‘smoke and mirrors’ when the relationship dissolved as quickly as smoke from a birthday candle.

These are the times where ‘digital intimacy’ goes too far: when the lines between personal and private become blurred. This is happening in small bursts in almost every online interaction, ever; with every ‘accept & close’ of a cookie cache, we are giving small parts of our life away to a data harvester, who will use it to who knows what end.

And yet, I am eternally grateful for the digital revolution, for I do not believe I could live without it. How do we navigate boundaries between what is seemingly limitless?

I don’t think I have the answer to that, but I do think that as a nation we are getting closer to one. The conviction of Adnan Ahmed suggests this: that digital intimacy is only valid when touched with humanity. We are beginning to recognise when it is not, and luckily (in Scotland at least) we are taking adequate action to protect our own privacy.