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. 

 

 

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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. 

Social Media: Relationship Enhancer or Nah?

Throughout the years my experiences with social media have changed quite a bit. In the beginning I used AIM and chatted with several of my friends. Then I created a profile on Facebook in the 8th grade, which was heavily monitored by my father. Soon after that, I got a MySpace account, which was also monitored by my dad. Now I use Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, and Snapchat on the daily. No matter what platform I use now or have used in the past, they all have one thing in common, they take up time. At school, before, after, and in between classes I’m constantly on social media sites on my phone, which I use through Apps. It’s honestly pathetic how much I’m on them. 

Due to the loss of valuable time, I’ve taken vacations from social media sites and cut back on how much I’m on my phone. One year I think I took a 4 month break from Facebook. Although it helped me occupy my time in other/better ways, I kept thinking about how many notifications I was going to have. I would spend some of the time I wasn’t physically on Facebook, thinking about Facebook. It was ridiculous. 

When it comes to connecting to people through this medium, I don’t think its very effective. Sure, I like some of my cousin’s pictures and post old pictures of me and my high school friends every Thursday, but other than that I don’t feel like my relationships are made stronger through this type of media. I get to see how other’s lives are going, or at least how they’re portrayed, but I don’t really feel like I’m improving or tending to relationships of those I can’t be with. I definitely don’t use social media to meet new people. I just have friends that I’ve met in the real world. Therefore, I have a multitude of “friends”/relationships, but they don’t compare to the quality of real life friends and family. 

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The way people use social media makes it shallow and can be used for the wrong reasons, such as cyberbullying. One way to make these online platforms more positively integrated is through making children in schools aware of the harmful effects of online harassment which were clearly demonstrated in the excerpt from the article. Also, instead of just scrolling and scrolling through pages, or stalking ex boyfriends, people could start to use this medium for more rewarding reasons, such as only getting on to talk to an old friend or distant family member. I feel like all of these sites have become superficial and a way for people to mask who they really are and portray themselves as who they want to be. There’s really no way to ensure that social media will only be used to enhance interpersonal communication. It’s developed into more of a popularity contest with people, especially teens, counting their likes/retweets/comments. Overall, social media can be used as a tool to connect with others, which was the original purpose for them. It just depends on how you decide to utilize these websites with great networking potential.

The Impact of Video Games

In today’s society video games are becoming more and more popular due to the App form of gaming on mobile devices. From what I can tell, a lot more people are involving themselves in the gaming world through their phones and even social networking sites, such as Facebook. My boyfriend’s mom doesn’t play video games on their Playstation, although her sons do. Instead, she uses her computer to access Facebook games, such as Candy Crush. I’ve played this game myself and had to delete the app because it was so addicting. I ended up dreaming about matching up the candies. It was pathetic. When analyzing these types of apps, there are similarities and differences to video games that require controllers and a system. For instance, both can become addictive and time consuming. My brother loves his Wii. He would play for hours into the night and not go to bed until 4:00 or 5:00 because he was trying to beat a level. The same can go for these apps. Potentially then can harm your health, but if they are constricted to only a certain amount of time per week/day, they aren’t really all that bad. One major difference in the two mediums of game playing is the desensitizing issue. I feel like mobile app games are not as detailed or realistic. They simply pass the time, whereas gaming system games can seem lifelike and can be detrimental to the mental health of the players. For example, my boyfriends little brother plays inappropriate games on a daily basis, where he kills people. Like stated in the book, the majority of game players are well out of their teens, which is who most people are concerned about. I’m not saying that he’s going to actually go do that in the real world, but I do think it desensitizes him. It also makes him lazy. He never wants to actually go outside and do something because the virtual world is so much cooler. In general, whether video games are on your phone or in your house, they make our society waste valuable time and hurt our health in many ways such as physical inactivity. 

Yet again, the media dependency theory goes hand in hand with another type of media, video games. The dependency relationship is asymmetrical. People depend on video games for a multitude of reasons: to pass the time, to fulfill their hobby, to have something to do with friends. The media companies don’t depend on their customers to play every single day, whereas the consumer could depend on the games and their systems on a daily basis. One way in which you could argue that the relationship is almost symmetrical, is if you incorporate the fact that the gaming system company depends on consumers to buy the newest systems and latests games that go with them. With mobile apps that are free have a one-way form of dependency involving the players, not the makers. But, apps that cost something are codependent. Again, the company needs the consumers to purchase the app and the consumer needs the app to fulfill whatever gaming need they may have. No matter the type of system, solitary play and social play come into action in the context of this theory. Not only do people play for their own entertainment, but they also use this form of media as a focus for social interaction. There are phone games that require multiple players, such as the app called Heads Up. The instructions have you place the phone, which is showing a word, on your forehead, while your teammates give you clues to try and make you say the word. Overall, the media dependency theory is directly relevant to the use of video games no matter the format. 

My First Encounters with the Internet

It’s difficult for me to clearly remember the first time I used a PC and the Internet. I was very young I remember that much. My dad came home one day all excited about a new computer he bought. At the time I thought it was the coolest thing ever. But thinking about it in comparison to today’s computers is quite comical. It was so large, and I don’t mean the screen. The back of the monitor almost extended the length of the desk we had it on. My earliest memory of the Internet involved email. My mom went away on a trip and I was missing her so my dad came up with the brilliant idea that I email her. We set up my own account and everything. My mind was blown that we could communicate this way. It made me feel so grown up and smart, definitely qualifying it as my first major accomplishment, being able to type letters to my mom and send them to her in a matter of seconds (may have been minutes at the time; I don’t recall how fast the Internet was then). With this situation, the displacement theory plays a role. Although I liked hearing my mom’s voice on the phone, email was just so much “cooler”. Therefore, I began to email her more than call her. I can’t quite recall my first mistake using the Internet. I think I may have brought a drink into the computer room while writing emails and my dad freaked out. Other than that, my mind just can’t go back that far. 

These experiences stick in my mind because of how incredible the technology seemed at the time, especially to a child. I wasn’t able to fully grasp the technicalities of it all, and therefore was even more amazed than my parents. It affected my outlook on computer integrated learning skills taught at school. For example, in the third grade we learned to type. Since I had my own computer at home (shared with the entire family), I already had some practice and it made me even more determined and excited to learn. I wanted to show my parents that I could type like an adult, so I took that section of the class seriously. I ended up being one of the fastest typers in the class. Now computers and other technology mediums such as iPads and Kindles are regularly integrated into schooling systems. I constantly use my computer in college for scholastic purposes, whereas in high school and below it was mostly just play/leisure time. Don’t get me wrong, I still spend time online shopping and using social media, but it’s declined since high school. Having grown up with the new technologies of the Internet and PC’s, my mindset on technology was positive, even though I didn’t understand it completely. 

Overall, the Internet and the medium to which we utilize it have strongly influenced my decisions and practices in life. I’ve always used Google, at least from what I can remember. I’m definitely dependent on both for new information/scholastic purposes, leisure time, and everything in between. This coincides with the media system dependency theory. Although, it’s an asymmetrical relationship, I depend on my computer and the Internet on a daily basis, whereas they don’t depend on me to survive. I honestly can’t imagine life without the  Internet and the computers that allow us to utilize it. 

Keeping up with New Technologies

I strongly agree with Daniel H. Wilson. He has several good points dealing with how we cope with the outbreak of new technologies. One of these subconscious strategies involves assimilation. I personally experienced this when my boyfriend bought a touch screen computer. I was so used to using a mouse (or mouse area built into my Mac), that I didn’t realize I could just touch the screen and get to my wanted online destination. Once I got the hang of touching the screen I expected a touch keyboard to pop up, like my mobile device, but it did not. My brain was so used to using my own computer and phone, that this odd combination of the two threw me off completely. I still don’t have the hang of his computer and only use it if I forget mine when we are together. 

According to The Terrifying Truth About New Technology, I fall under the stereotypical young person who adapts to new technologies fairly quickly, such as social media and its capabilities. For example, I use Instagram throughout the week and follow the hashtag trends that correspond with pictures I post. Examples of these include: man crush Monday (#mcm), woman crush Wednesday (#wcw), and throwback Thursday (#tbt). This is definitely something that mostly younger people participate in, give or take some middle age adults, who may be influenced by their children. These social media cites aren’t necessarily super new to society, but their trends are ever changing, which solidifies the theories in the article. The older we get, the more we fall behind with new technologies and trends, unless we force ourselves to keep up. 

In my opinion, each generation is different from the predecessor, causing a difference in communication styles across generations, as well. One way middle age adults choose to keep up with the times and technology is learning through their children. Many young adults and teenagers possess the lingo and knowledge of the current time period, and parents can adapt through them. It’s different when talking about older generations (not necessarily middle aged people) due to excitement of future interactions. When people are in their 20s and have a lot of life ahead of them, new technologies offer possibilities for the future, making life easier or more socially integrated. Older people who don’t have as many years left, probably don’t look at new technologies as new possibilities, but rather as a new, more complicated device that they don’t need to survive, or care to learn how to use. Also, I feel that many young adults use new technologies to connect with people, some of which are new people who hold the possibility for platonic/professional or  romantic relationships. Older people aren’t usually interested in new friends, and are satisfied with those around them. 

I generally agree with the premises of the article. For the most part it is inevitable that as we grow older we will become less attached to the latest and greatest innovations in technology. Sure, you can try to keep up and force yourself to learn how to use each technology medium, but eventually you aren’t going to want to mess with it. You’re just going to want to live and be content with the technology you already know how to use. 

Blogging

My experience with blogging is slim. I’ve only had to blog for one other class and the main focus was feminism and women in society. I thoroughly enjoyed blogging in that instance, due to the fact that the subject interests me greatly, and I was able to convey my opinions and thoughts without question. This online form of a diary is healthy for people to get their feelings, thoughts, and opinions out, as a way of venting. Of course, there are other types of blogging that are for scholastic purposes, such as case studies. There is an article written by Darren Rowse on this website that goes into detail about these different forms: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/11/29/20-types-of-blog-posts-battling-bloggers-block/. Overall, blogging can fulfill many needs and wants, but can also be a dangerous medium. 

Blogging affects our society just like any form of social media. Now-a-days, there are multiple news stories on a daily basis that revolve around social media, some centered on celebrities interactions on these online formats. There are negative and positive affects that occur with blogging, some which can certainly create conflict/problems. One negative impact is blatantly explained in the Washington Post article by Kathleen Parker, which talks about how political figures are being defaced by their online enemies. Another negative affect has to do with people in high-standing positions. For example, a PR employee recently got fired for a racist tweet on Twitter, she could have very well blogged about it and made it public. It may have taken longer for the blog post to get out into the media world than the tweet, but nevertheless it could’ve damaged her career opportunities just the same. Positives revolving around blogging are as I stated before, usage as a healthy outlet for people to openly express themselves either publicly or privately. Therefore, I think blogging is a good thing in the sense of giving the “power to publish”to everyone, as long as they are careful what they make private vs. public. 

This medium for online expression will most definitely increase as time passes. Our society is becoming more and more technology centered and advanced. As people continue to practice relying on media/apps, they will also begin to rely on blogging instead of diaries or journals. It’s like Twitter and Facebook, but with an unlimited word count and more appropriate medium for people to express their opinions, again as long as they are being careful with what they make public/private. 

Somewhere between psychotic and iconic. Pop Culture. MTV.