Unplugging and Semester Overview

Unplugging from the world has it’s advantages and disadvantages. First off, I was only able to unplug for a half a day. I felt like I needed to communicate with others and see what was going on in the social media world. Without having my iPhone attached to me, I was able to focus on other matters, like homework, and get a lot more done. It was nice to have a short break and have real conversations with  my parents and just have family time, similar to the John T. Peter’s viewpoint in the article, when he talked about spending quality moments with his kids. One thing I realized was that instead of checking my phone for the time, I had to actually look at a clock. It’s weird how rare I actually look at a digital clock, let alone a clock with hands. Another thing I noticed was that I had major withdrawal symptoms. I would check my pocket for my phone a million times, wanting to get on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or send a snap on SnapChat. This challenge was extra difficult because my boyfriend is out of town, so we have to communicate via phone and Skype. That part definitely sucked, but he knew it was for school, so at least he wasn’t mad at me. Overall, I’d definitely say I’m addicted to communication technology. Like Jenna Wortham, I too have turned off my phone before when I’ve been with friends. It really is a different experience. I become more involved in conversations and learn to appreciate the people in my life more. This experiment made me want to not use my phone as much and just have face to face interpersonal relations with those around me. It feels more genuine and personal.

Throughout the course of this semester, I’ve learned many things, but the one that surprised me the most was how much data companies have on  me. It’s truly terrifying how nothing on the Internet goes away and that people can just sell something you’ve posted to a broker. It’s an odd concept and it makes me feel like I’m being taking advantage of/stalked/spied on. Communication technologies have a huge impact on my life. As I’m constantly using them, data companies are constantly collecting new information on me. This, in turn, impacts society as a whole. I know I’m not alone in being involved in online transactions and social media websites. More and more people are getting online, causing more and more data to be distributed. Our society focuses on media and how we can make things easier/digital (these two terms aren’t always interchangeable by the way). The media promotes digitalization and smartphone centered communities. I think this could cause serious problems in the future with people becoming so absorbed in their technologies that they become lonely and inadequate F2F communicators. Some of this is already happening and I only see it getting worse as time goes on. I’ve discussed many times in my blog the theory of media dependency. It completely applies here. People become so dependent on their devices that “connect them to the world”, when really they can also disconnect you from the people in front of you and in your day to day life. Although you may be dependent on your iPhone, it doesn’t need you. It can exist without you sending a text every minute, posting on social media, or talking to siri. It’s a one way, lonely street that our world is progressively driving on. 




Privacy Online

I had no idea that companies are potentially selling data/information on me from my social media profiles. Right after the first lecture on this, I went home and made some changes to my Facebook profile. I edited my about me, since it was years old, and made sure it was set to private. I also checked my tweets for any inappropriate content. All in all, this makes me feel paranoid about everything I post. What can we really do though? If we are going to be online, we are going to be tracked. For example, I’m probably being tracked on this website and my blog posts could be sold to brokers. It’s mind blowing and terrifying, but there’s not a whole lot I can do because it’s not like I’m going to be abstinent from the Internet.

One issue really bothers me, which is that no matter if we delete what we’ve posted, it stays there forever. For example, when I was in middle school I set up my Facebook and put my address on there. My dad made me show him everything on my Facebook and saw that and flipped out. I wasn’t thinking about the consequences. I immediately deleted it, and although no one showed up at my house, that information is forever on the Internet now. It’s a scary thought. When it comes to statuses and pictures, I’m not worried about people knowing that stuff. I put it out there because I’m comfortable with it. It is odd that “Big Brother” sites have these pieces of information on me, but what are you gonna do? There’s not much we can do. Therefore, I’ll continue to post on social media websites. I do wish that there were laws that wouldn’t allow this type of data breaching. It’s definitely a big deal and an invasion of privacy that I feel will only increase as time goes on.

Even with these sites and cookies collecting data on me and then creating targeted advertising on my browser, it’s not like the ads actually work. I don’t see the point. Nine times out of ten I’m not going to click on the ad to see more. The ads just get in the way and take up space on the webpage. I usually just ignore them and do what I’m online to do. Like the article on pcworld states, there aren’t laws that protect our personal online surfing data and it’s not an easy one-step process to opt out of being tracked. This again proves my point that there’s not much we can do but be careful about what we put out on the World Wide Web.