I apologize that this post is a bit long. I got quite invested into this topic.
This week in EDTC 400 we discussed the influence that technology has on people. We discussed some of the recent viral videos that are going around the internet as well. In this blog post, we had pretty free range to discuss some of the issues of technology and I found myself reflecting on my relationship with technology and social media a lot while writing this post.
One of the biggest things in social media is viral videos. In this past week, there has been a viral video that has been going around almost every social media platform. I’m guessing you have already seen it by now. It is the video that showcases a boy wearing a MAGA hat staring and supposedly smirking at a First Nations man that is playing a drum in America. This video blew up everywhere when it first came out. At first, I thought the video was something staged to try to get a reaction from people during the government shutdown in America. I did not pay much attention to the video at first, but as the post got more traction in the media, I started to wonder what really happened in the video. I went on a few different new websites on the internet and came up with a general idea of what happened in the video. An article by Ian Bogost gives a pretty good analysis of what happened with this video and why it became so big. This video is a great example of how fast a video can blow up on the internet and how important context can be when trying to understand the situation that the video as taken in.
In the world of online now, context is often left out. It is difficult to find out what actually went on before, during and after a viral video, especially when most of them are less than a minute or two in length. Context often cannot be found out unless reporters discuss the situation with the people that are in the video. As the most recent event with the viral video I mentioned above shows, context is everything when trying to unpack a viral and controversial video.
Technology and social media have a huge influence on people’s lives and some might even say that they have taken over people’s lives. Most people that I know have some sort of digital device with them 24/7. I am no exception. I am often glued to my phone or always have it within arm’s reach. I jump when my phone pings or buzzes with a notification and I find it difficult to ignore the urge to check to see who just messaged me. Even right now, as I am writing this blog, someone messaged me and I am fighting to ignore the message. Technology in some ways has taken over my life and I find that I have noticed that I use it as a way to escape the real world.
I watched the TED Talk that Sherry Turkle gives that Katia had recommended. I found myself really connecting to it. Lately I have been going through a rough patch in my personal life. I have been finding it difficult to find the motivation to get things like homework done without wanting to escape into social media. I have been isolating myself in my room, but yet connecting myself with social media as I scroll through Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. As Sherry Turkle explains in her TED Talk, I find myself feeling lonelier when I am scrolling through my phone or I am waiting for a Snapchat, even though I am supposedly connected with the rest of the world.
Loneliness is something that many people experience. As Sherry Turkle explains in her TED Talk, so many people turn to technology when they feel vulnerable. Technology often gives people the false sense of connection and intimacy that people crave. I really like her quote that “we are designing technologies that give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship”. People are using technology to feel that they are loved and wanted, but yet they do not get the face-to-face interaction that actually creates friendship and love. With the increased amount of access that people have to technology, it is becoming easier to escape into the online world in search for the comfort that they want in the “real” world.
This crave for human connection that is face-to-face is something that so many people are experiencing. People crave times where they can put their phones down and connect with the offline world. Even though people are supposedly disconnecting themselves from the online world, they are still thinking about the online world and the things they will post or what others have or will post as Nathan Jurgenson explains in his article. Technology and social media have become so interwoven in the offline world that it almost seems impossible to go without it. It is difficult for people to unplug and disconnect from the online world because people have become so reliant on it and the feelings it gives to us. I know that when I put down my phone for a few minutes I start to feel anxious that I will miss out on something that someone, who I probably don’t talk to outside of social media, will post something. I often find myself feeling the need to check my phone to see if someone has sent me a Snapchat or message, even when I did not get a notification.
This idea that I am so connected, and even addicted, to my phone and technology has really hit me in this past week. I have noticed myself spending way too much time aimlessly scrolling through social media and wanting to stop, but struggling to find the motivation to do so. I find social media and technology make me feel less lonely, while I am on them, but once I am off, I am back to being alone. Being on social media gives me a false sense of companionship that I know that I, like most people, crave. Being alone is daunting to me, but I think it is because I have not learnt how to be happy being alone.
This week has given me a bit of a wake-up call with my social media and technology usage. I want to work on not scrolling endlessly through Facebook and Instagram, especially when I should be doing homework. I want to learn how to enjoy solitude, now that I have the opportunity to do so. I want to learn how to be okay with being by myself without having social media nagging at me every few seconds. Being alone is something that I have never fully accepted or enjoyed. I want to learn how to be okay with being by myself, which will take time, but I hope that I will learn more about my interests and values. Being alone sounds scary, but sometimes it is good to have time for myself and reflect on the day and important things in life.
Overall, technology is not the evil being in this post. The way that people, including myself, use technology and rely on technology to give them a sense of companionship is the issue. Technology must be used to enhance social interaction between people, not replace face-to-face interactions.
What are your thoughts on technology? Do you find yourself relying heavily on social media to feel connected to others? Leave a comment below!
Thanks for reading my blog post!