What is your digital self?

My group project is social media. So talking about how we are represented online fits the blog post very well. How are you portrayed online? Do you filter some stuff? Are you friends with everyone? Did you change your privacy settings? Those are one of the many ways we can alter the way we are seen online. Watson’s “Studying the Digital Self” is categorized into five different groups. It is broken down into interpreting digital archives, evaluating claims of authenticity, understanding the use of branding, parsing identity online, and assessing quantification.

I decided to ask some of my close friends Joe and Marc about what they thought about their digital self. The very first question I asked them was the definition of digital self. For Joe, it meant what the online world knows about him. The things that people can find about him online. Although he is very family oriented, he doesn’t post many of his personal stuff online. He keeps it professional and only post and share information to promote his organization in school. He use it as an advertisement tool. He changes his cover and profile pictures to events and information his organization plans. For Marc, it is the opposite. He posts a lot of pictures whenever he travels. He likes to keep his Facebook updated with many pictures and statuses of his personal life. The reason why he likes to keep it update it is because Facebook is a way for his family to be updated on his life. Being an out of state student, he doesn’t always have the time to call home so his family can see.

According to Watson, the way they interpret their digital archives is very different. Their habits and desires online are very different. In terms of authenticity, Joe’s digital self is more professional compared to Marc. They both have LinkedIn accounts but Joe is able to present his talents and skill much better. He keeps his personal life away from the online world. Also, Joe knows how to brand himself. He even has his own logo that he labels in his products such as flyers. Talking to Joe and Marc about their digital self was very interesting because of how different their perspective are when it comes to social media.

I think that another great point is from the book Alone Together by Sherry Turkle. She interviewed different people about how teenagers see social media as. One good point was how they would use it to stalk people. When they add their family members, they can’t help it but to stalk and look at their pictures. And how some teenagers think that their family might be too old to even have a Facebook and MySpace. Joe doesn’t like having people look into his private life so he keeps a lot of things away. He knows that people will look into his past from social media. Marc is completely different. He knows that people will look at his pictures so he shares more. He knows that his family wants to look at pictures and know more about his life so he posts more.

Another great point by Sherry Turkle is that we never know who is on the other side of the screen. People can lie about their information and post pictures that are not even them. Our digital self can be used to show our best but some people might lie to make themselves look even better.

In conclusion, we show many different side to friends, family, and strangers. The way we are portrayed online is also very different. We get to choose what we want people to see. We are able to block and hide things we didn’t like. We don’t have to put out everything about us online. We can put our best traits online. Like Joe and Marc, we all use social media to our advantages. We use it to communicate with people we know, network with others, and use it as an advertisement tool. Our digital self is like another part of our personality were we try to make ourselves look the best.

Footnotes

Turkle, Sherry. (2011). Alone Together. New York, NY: Basic Books

Conversations with friends over how they use social media.

Watson, Julia (2014) “Studying the Digital Self”

Netflix is the Massage

As mentioned before, Netflix was able to change the television industry. But how was it able to change it in just about 25 years? From having good marketing strategies to the timing. When Netflix was founded it knew that people enjoyed buying and renting movies. To make it even more convenient, Netflix started a DVD delivery system. As Marshall McLuhan mentions that we focus on the obvious. We know that there are changes, the advantages and disadvantages of a new system but rarely do we know that the new system or invention had changed our lives. Sometimes it is a long change, other times it is a subtle change that we don’t even realize it (Mark Federman)  “Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication” (page 8) bring up a good point on how Netflix works. The content of Netflix is great but the reason why it could become so big wasn’t because of its content but the nature of the media. It is convenient. We don’t have to store physical DVDs or go to a store to get a movie. We can see anything easily anywhere.

Netflix being electric technology could change the way society is now because “electric technology fosters and encourages unification and involvement. It is impossible to understand social and cultural changes without knowledge of the workings of media” Which is true, Netflix was introduced in 1997. There were a lot of technological improvements but we still didn’t understand it well enough. We didn’t that it was slowly changing the DVD industry because we couldn’t understand it well enough.

McLuhan also mentions that a medium is the message; it is an extension of us. It is proven to be true with the analysis of different mediums. In this case, Netflix is an extension of us. We might deny that it isn’t an extension of ourselves but we are the reason why that medium is so big. Even the content of the medium is tailored to our preferences and our likes. By watching certain movies and television shows, Netflix can give you a suggestion of other movies and television shows that you might like to watch. That isn’t the only thing that it is a part of us. It tries to be like us by having a “brain”. It categorizes the contents into different parts very much like our brain. Netflix is also able to tell you the likes of others by getting information from other social media like Facebook.

McLuhan argues that the message is the medium. The content or the use of the innovation is not the message. The message is the “change in inter-personal dynamics that the innovation brings with it” (Mark Federman) In the case of Netflix, it isn’t the content of Netflix or how it was founded but possibly the changes of lifestyle of us as humans and the changes in users in the internet because of Netflix. It is the change of point of view in people because of Netflix. Because of Netflix, people have found ways to learn about less known shows and movies and some have a positive attitude toward the movie industry when knowing it isn’t all “Hollywood”. The point is that the obvious changes aren’t the actual message. The message is hidden, it is not obvious.

For McLuhan, the changes, the innovation was television. It is interesting to see how that had change over time. Television is still around but the way it is watched has changed a lot. But I also believe that McLuhan knew that there would be changes. Just like he said “the medium, our process, of our time- electric technology – is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and reevaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted” Many innovations have change the way our society works from our personal life to our social life. The changes have its advantages and disadvantages but many things that we took for granted in the past and in the present might not be there anymore in the future because of the many changes.

In conclusion, like many different mediums, Netflix was able to change the way our society is. It reshaped and restructured how our personal and social life is. It changed the way different industries that we took for granted, disappear or restructure.

Footnotes:

  1. Mark Federman, “What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message?”. Utoronto.ca. July 23, 2004. http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage.htm
  2. McLuhan, Marshall. “The Medium is the Massage”
  3. Image: http://s3.amazonaws.com/digitaltrends-uploads-prod/2013/12/netflix-movies-expiring-jan-2014.jpg

Creativity is Anti-Environmental

childdMarshall McLuhan’s book, The Medium is the Massage, mentions many important, logical, and relevant truths in our society today which he had written decades ago. These truths can truly enlighten us on what is preventing society to advance or how can society advance. McLuhan mentions an important eye-opening realization that I have had in the back of my mind which he has allowed me to entertain. The idea of humans losing their creativity by the influence of media, or at least by some sort of medium. Either through precedents of obtaining information or knowledge or by being influenced by the media in such a way that a person might think what they are doing can no way be right.

McLuhan uses the example of a brilliant chemist and one of the great founders of modern physics who is none other than Michael Faraday. McLuhan writes, “Michael Faraday, who had little mathematics and no formal schooling beyond the primary grades, is celebrated as an experimenter who discovered the induction of electricity”( McLuhan 92). This quote is all I needed to entertain the possibility of how society influences people to be a certain way. For example, if you want to do research in biochemistry or find a cure to a disease, society demands you to earn a degree and even a PhD. We learn that we need to take this class, and then this upper level class, and so on just to partake in a specific field. Which is why I believe Faraday went against those precedents of partaking in difficult sciences and not investing time into the upper level mathematics like calculus just to come up with something new. Faraday used his raw creativity and the basic knowledge of the natural sciences to come up with the greatest theories of his time. Imagine if you had knowledge of the fundamental or basic things in your field and not having the knowledge of anything more, so no knowledge of those “advanced” theories, you would be so much more creative because you would conjure up theories or information by using the basics of that specific field without being discouraged by the advanced theories of others. I believe Faraday’s lack of higher level mathematics and sciences allowed him to come up with simple theories that did not require calculus to do, if he had grew up with the influence of calculus and incorporating so much information in his theories he would question himself maybe this is too simple of a theory.

We are brought up as kids to go to school from such a young age up until we are adults, learning about so many different things, but when it comes to applying ourselves in a field of interest we tend to draw blanks when the time comes. This is due to losing our creativity of how we once wondered about the world. We are taught so many different scientific theories, some changing though the years, that we tend to think our theories must be nothing compared to the theories of these great scientists. Curing cancer has been such an important area of research that society has spent so much money still to find a cure. Now Imagine someone with just a basic knowledge of biology he might be able to theorize cures of what is the problem what might be the cause, but we get discouraged and lose our creativity because of our external environment. We have high eminent scientists in these fields, if they cannot find a cure how can someone like me? This is a perfect example of how our external environment and even the media affect our creativity in such a way that we are losing so much talent in this world. McLuhan put it best when he stated “Amateurism is anti-environmental”( McLuhan 92).

Footnotes”

McLuhan, Marshall, Quentin Fiore, and Jerome Agel. The Medium Is the Massage. New York: Bantam, 1967. Print.

Paul, Annie M. “Are We Wringing the Creativity Out of Kids?” MindShift. N.p., 04 May 2012. Web. 05 Feb. 2015.

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Artifact Politics- Social Media

How many of us have spent hours surfing our social media pages? Whether it is mindless scrolling through random selfies and song quotes, planning the next big social get-together, or posting about a recent life changing event, social media has changed how society functions. Social media technology may not be tangible in itself, however it does create somewhat tangible positive and negative consequences. There are many different kinds of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even dating sites, which all function differently and are tailored to suit different audiences. However, most all social media is connected by one common interest: communication. Social media allows millions of people to communicate ideas, feelings, pictures, and even have conversations in just a few clicks of a mouse. This increase of communication has drastically changed how information is spread through society.
The technology of social media has allowed information to be conveyed to a mass amount of people in an instant. “Social networking sites like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are fast becoming a constant source of alternative news for Internet users, and also becoming a channel in which users can direct the focus of national news media” (Mason). This has been absorbed by politics and celebrities to influence a mass amount of people. However, social media has improved communication opportunities on a smaller scale as well. In addition being a record of someone’s past, it can be used to efficiently plan events for the future or even a medium for personal conversation. Either through group chats, direct messages, or creating a “group event page”, plans can easily, quickly, and even personally be communicated to multiple individuals. This replaces past methods of looking through a phone book to call each individual, or even writing letters. This saves an immense amount of time and thus makes it easier for people to contact their friends or family to have social interaction.
Social media is typically thought of as the classic Facebook and Twitter posts, which are updated records of what happens in an individual’s life. This creates an archive of such person’s life, which can be very beneficial. Personally, I enjoy being able to keep in touch more easily with friends or family members that I haven’t had direct contact with in a while. Scrolling through my Facebook and Twitter feeds can be entertaining and helps me know what specific people are up to. My relatives have often commented that they enjoy knowing how I am doing and being able to keep up to date with my life even though I haven’t seen them in a very long time. It is also a way to express feelings and store actual images or videos. This versatility for communication however comes with a great cost, privacy.
It concerns me to some regards just how much privacy this generation has lost through the use of social media. As a potential law enforcement officer, I have researched how social media users’ information can easily be tapped into and exploited. However, one big problem (or solution depending on how you look at it) is that most of us simply don’t care. As a society, we have become accustomed to being public and lacking privacy. It has become a social norm to publically share private matters about our lives. In fact, sometimes not being public about one’s life leads to social criticism. Social media in this sense creates a social hierarchy based on how many “followers/ friends” someone has or how much they post/tweet, etc. Our definitions of “friends” becomes much less personal when we have over 500 of them, most of who we have rarely ever talked to in person. None of the less, as a society we crave having influence (politics) over others, and having more followers and posts leaders to greater influence. Although most of this influence is backed by pre-determined social hierarchies, such as celebrities, social media still promotes this authoritarian political system. Twitter even has an “official blue check mark” which indicates that someone is of a higher social class. It also creates division among those who have access to social media and those who don’t. As the number of poorer countries that gain access to the internet and social media increases, so does the influence that certain groups begin to have which leads to more social change. “We will only continue to see social media directing world events, building awareness and breaking news. It’s the voice of the people, speaking to the people. Everyone is now a reporter, and that’s an empowering feeling when the pen is mightier than the sword” (Mason).
Yet, social media does have a Democratic aspect. Since it does allow such mass communication, this communication CAN be utilized by all. In many ways, social media breaks social class divisions by allowing this free communication. If I wanted to, I could say something to my favorite celebrity, just by tweeting them. With normal social barriers, I would never be able to so easily contact those of higher social class. Social media opens doors and increases opportunities for interaction, communication, and expression.

Footnotes
1.Mason, Lisa “Impact of Social Media on Society: 5 Times Social Changed the World” SocialMediaSun.com
2.http://greatfinds.icrossing.com/how-to-leverage-paid-tactics-in-social-media/ (image)