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The Great Debate

// Posted by on 02/03/2014 (12:23 AM)

Do social media benefits outweigh the risks? It is interesting to think about both its positive and negative effects. Yes, social media is an effective, simple way for people to connect, but it can also lead us into various dangers… Read more

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Do social media benefits outweigh the risks? It is interesting to think about both its positive and negative effects. Yes, social media is an effective, simple way for people to connect, but it can also lead us into various dangers and deprivations. There have been numerous studies that have found that social media (Facebook, Twitter) create closer social ties and more of them. In contrast, it has also been proven that Americans have fewer intimate relationships toady than 20 years ago. So which one is it? I think Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together sums up my opinion, in which she basically focuses on not about her concern with political uses of the internet, but about its psychological side effects. It is shocking that teenagers send and receive between 6 and 8 thousand text messages a month. She says “Social networks are more like mutual isolation networks that detach people from meaningful interactions with one another and make us less human.” Basically, social networks are destroying real communication, dumbing down society, and leading to a society of people that have no idea how to actually function in the real world. While the technologies we have created are fascinating, we have let computers/phones/etc diminish us and let them control every facet of our lives. In an article I read, Simone Back from the UK announced her suicide through a facebook status. Not one of her over 1,000 friends reached out to her in response to her post, but rather the status turned into a debate about whether or not Back had the freedom to kill herself. This saddens me that 1) no one contacted her despite her many friends and connections and 2) she would even resort to leaking that kind of information on a public social media site. This goes to show how although social media has the ability to create and strengthen social ties, it does not always serve that purpose. This leads me to another point that the information people are willing to share on facebook, twitter, etc. is incredible. People make announcements that are extremely personal and should one-hundred percent be kept off of the internet. For example, I have seen people announce abortions and drug addictions….. need I say more?

This is an interesting article about Sherry Turkle’s book, Alone Together:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/books/22book.html?_r=0

I also thought it really put the popularity into perspective after looking at some statistics on this site: http://socialmediatoday.com/jonathan-bernstein/1894441/social-media-stats-facts-2013


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Technology and Self-Esteem

// Posted by on 01/20/2014 (2:49 PM)

I personally find the digital age in America to be somewhat sad and depressing. Interactions are less meaningful and the emphasis placed on technology is way too large. I worry about the future of the united states in many regards.… Read more

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I personally find the digital age in America to be somewhat sad and depressing. Interactions are less meaningful and the emphasis placed on technology is way too large. I worry about the future of the united states in many regards. The first being how our generation is far too obsessed with Facebook, Twitter, and in general bragging about experiences by uploading photo after photo. It has been proven that using these social media websites daily can contribute to lower self-esteem. We have been robbed of face to face (and in my opinion, more personal) relationships. Second, this reliance on media through the use cell phones, televisions, ipads, computers, etc. has created a divide in the relationships we have developed. It almost seems as if friendships and relationships are fake. Technology serves as a mask that we are all able to hide behind when communicating. We are so engulfed in social media that it is now a representation of who we are (or maybe rather who we want to be). I also have come to the conclusion that social media is a contributing factor to the failure of marriages. It is now MUCH easier to cheat through the use of technologies that connect us to anywhere in the world. We meet someone at a bar and can now pursue that person through phones, the internet, etc. In addition to this, social media/technology has given men the opportunity to be lazy. No longer do men pursue women and make an effort, it is as easy as sending a simple text. Compared to the courting men used to do, which involves meeting familes/parents, etc. technology has created an easy way out of having to do so. Lastly, technology has largely contributed to low self esteem and body image issues. Technology enforces an “ideal” but impossible standard of beauty through advertising models, makeup products, etc. This automatically has caused the world to be an unhappier place than it used to be. We cannot deny that we are all addicted to technology, and it is now a NECESSITY in our daily lives and routines. I don’t think it would be possible to live a day without it, which is quite sad and quite frightening.

These two links are articles about the possible repercussions using facebook can have on self esteem:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/facebook-addicts-may-have-lower-self-esteem-says-study/

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/10/04/facebook-happiness-and-self-esteem/

While technology has generated disadvantages in the world, I do think our country has benefitted as well. The progression of technology and technological devices is amazing, and has given us the capacity to do/research just about anything. It is incredible that we can connect with someone in Australia, or research online about an event that happened hundreds of years ago. Our culture has evolved into an extremely intelligent one, and we can accredit some of that to technology.

One thing I have found very interesting so far about the book is the protest and objection of technology by college students. You would think that they would embrace something so new and exciting, as it turns out they were very closed off to the idea. Talking about the advancement of technology with my parents has really put it into perspective. Life was so simple and to my surprise sometimes I think I would prefer to be technology free, and to be able to experience the simplicity they did. We are so often caught up in the lives of others, when we really should just be concerned about our own. It is troubling to think about what the future holds for our children. Will there be flying cars and cell phones programmed into our arms? It is scary to think about, but the fact of the matter is is that our parents’ generation had no idea what was coming, and we won’t either. I hate that I use expressions such as “fired up” and “strung out.” I don’t like the describing our living human bodies as a computerized, inanimate machine. It should not be this way.


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The Beginning of The End

// Posted by on 01/17/2014 (5:23 PM)

The opening chapters of Fred Turner’s, From Counterculture to Cyberculture, explore the historical context of  the utopian vision of computing technology as well as the metaphors, language, ideas, and movements that are linked to it.  He largely focuses on… Read more

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The opening chapters of Fred Turner’s, From Counterculture to Cyberculture, explore the historical context of  the utopian vision of computing technology as well as the metaphors, language, ideas, and movements that are linked to it.  He largely focuses on Stewart Brand, a networker who founded the Whole Earth Catalog and WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link) which were both focused on creating an openminded and flexible kind of culture.  Brand was an important figure in the idea of the Merry Pranksters as well as in the MIT media Lab.  From the 1960′s through the 1980′s, he experienced diverse environments and sought to link projects and people and promote new ways of thinking.  Brand’s enterprises over those two decades of “shifting politics”, Turner suggests, appear as precursors to the World Wide Web.

Turner also discusses the public perspective in 1967 and the fear and unrest that arose as computers were viewed as technologies of dehumanization, centralized bureaucracy, and the rationalization of human life.  Computers were an overt symbol of the military and the centralization of power.  People feared the creation of an automated society that was a potential threat to their freedom.  In the 1990′s, however, computers had served as the defining devices of cold war technocracy and emerged as the symbols of its transformation. Two decades after the end of the Vietnam War and the fading of the American counter culture, computers somehow seemed poised to bring to life the countercultural dream of empowered individualism, collaborative community, and spiritual communion (2).  It is interesting how in just thirty years, the cultural meaning of information technology shifted so drastically.  The power of computing, once seen a threat to freedom and a individuality, was soon perceived as encouraging to personal freedom, collaboration, dispersed authority, and knowledge.

After learning about the shift in perspective of technology from the 1960′s to the 1990′s, it is interesting to consider the view of the subject in my generation.  It is overly evident how ingrained technology is in our society today, particularly among the youth.  Walking around campus, it is almost rare to see a student hands-free, head up, taking in their immediate environment and the individuals who occupy it.  It is not hard to understand technologies’ massive role in influencing the world around us.  iPhones have replaced the need for face-to-face conversations and computers are now the popular substitute for books, newspapers, and magazines.  Seven-year-olds are asking for cellphones and computers as birthday gifts instead of bicycles or games.  Dinner conversations have taken a backseat to technological entertainment and car rides are often silent as everyone is “plugged-in”.  It is undeniable; we live in the digital age.

I often find these observations to be depressing, only reminders of how genuine social interactions have seemingly diminished into thin air.  It is almost as if someone’s texting or Facebook/Twitter/Instgram page is more of a representation of who they are than the individual him/herself.  For the majority of young people, technology is their primary device for communication and expression.  In my opinion, this only hinders their personable development as they spend increasing amounts of time focused on their digital appearence as well as the personalities portrayed by others.  Technology can often limit the imagination and creativity of young minds as they are bombarded with distractions on the web that are more often than not- well, garbage.   Some might argue that I have a biased view on how our generations technological networks have influenced our social interactions and that is probably accurate.  My opinion is formed by personal experience, however, and I tend to see technology today as a tool for a shallow interconnectedness that, ultimately, isolates us from one another. To me, this is where the irony lies.  A device created to connect humanity on a broad scale has the effect of distancing us when we are, physically, the closest.

 


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