I have always been very invested in the issue of sexual assault. When the video came out of Donald Trump talking about assaulting women and condoning such horrific actions, I was disgusted. I was never one to put my political beliefs online since I have friends and family members who think differently, but this was a bipartisan issue. Someone who views sexual assault as a joke is not someone I want to be associated with let alone have as my president. Because of my strong feelings about the topic, I decided to take to Facebook and post how I was feeling:
I was nervous posting such a strongly opinionated post on social media, but having so many people like it made me feel validated and relieved. 47 people ended up liking my post on Facebook. Some of those people were close friends and family, and some I have never talked to before. I was glad that my post reached people and resonated with some enough for them to like it. The purpose of my post was to bring awareness to a huge issue facing us currently. I also wanted to make my voice heard and make it clear that no one should get away with this behavior. I think that I managed to accomplish my personal goals with this post. Being on social media that day I saw a lot of other people posting similar things. The sad reality I and many others were faced with was that social media posts weren’t enough. I knew a lot of people who were sickened by Donald Trump’s comments but didn’t vote. It was a huge wake-up call for me, and I’m sure a lot of other people, that someone who has sexually assaulted women and condones such acts could be the president. After that experience, I realized that I shouldn’t be afraid of having a voice and standing up for what I believe in because otherwise, nothing will change. You can’t complain about the way things are if you aren’t willing to put in the effort and make a difference.
Ronson describes in his book, So You’ve Been Publically Shamed, the downfalls of social media. Public shaming has seen a rise in recent times. In my opinion, Ronson takes the stance that social media has its positives but, at the same time, extreme negatives. Carr also views social media in a negative light in his book, The Shallows. Ronson and Carr have many opposing ideas, but do show similarities in the fact that they both recognize the downfalls of social media.
Ronson and Carr agree on the fact that social media and technology are a powerful tool. Carr discusses in his book that with technology came a rewiring of our brains and loss of compassion. While I don’t think Ronson would agree with that technology rewired our brains, Ronson does agree that there is a lack of compassion on social media: “During the months that followed, it became routine. Everyday people, some with young children, were getting annihilated for tweeting some badly worded joke to their hundred or so followers”(Ronson 67). We have become desensitized to the vicious public shaming occurring on a daily basis. Ronson saw with his own eyes how quickly someone could be taken down by everyday people on social media, and the effect it has on that person. Social media can be too powerful. Carr shares that belief that social media is dangerous in many different ways. On the other hand, a major difference between Ronson and Carr is that Carr addresses technology more and how technological advances are causing this decrease in empathy. Ronson seems to believe that it has always been there.
Another major different between Ronson and Carr is that Carr believes technology is to blame for our problems with social media. I think that Carr is incorrect in this conclusion, and my thinking much closer aligns with boyd and Ronson. Boyd refutes Carr’s claims eloquently in her book, It’s Complicated. She and Ronson believe that people are to blame for our problems with social media rather than technology: “Blaming technology or assuming that conflict will disappear if technology usage is minimized is naïve”(boyd 152). Ronson shares similar thinking because he relates current public shaming to the public punishment of the past. Social media was not around during the times of public punishment, so people are the reason for these actions; not technology. Boyd and Ronson, on the surface, seem to be the most similar. However, I believe Ronson, boyd, and Carr all share a similar sense of cynicism toward human nature and society.
I was very excited to express my thoughts on a concept through video. My original thought about using video was that it would allow me to express my ideas more clearly. I also thought it would be easier for me to get across what I was trying to convey. For the most part, those predictions were true. However, with only having 60 seconds to get my point across, I found it slightly harder for me to explain what I wanted to say. When I’m writing responses, I have more flexibility with my words, and I feel like I can describe more. In the video, I had to extremely condense what I wanted to say in order to fit the allotted time. I had to learn how to exchange the words I would usually want to say with photos and video.
Working with video shed light on many different ways to express an idea and get a point across. For example, James’ video, “How to Properly Watch a Movie at Home” and in Nicole’s video, “Procrastination” both take advantage of acting and voiceover to convey a certain message and tone for their video. Both videos were more humorous, and without the voiceover and acting, I don’t think that would have come across. Writing a response makes it harder to incorporate humor, but it was much more detectable in their videos.
Another way I think video can be easier to use than writing was exemplified in Amanda’s video about sub-tweeting. She combined writing on paper with a voiceover to further explain her ideas. I think those two things did a really good job at supplementing each other. The words that Amanda wrote focused the viewer on a specific idea while the voiceover further explained her thinking. I think videos do a good job at filling the “between the lines” space that is often left open to interpretation in writing. In many of the videos I noticed that the ideas could easily be expressed in writing as well, but video added an extra layer of explanation that is impossible to achieve with just the written word.
After creating a 60-second video, I definitely have a lot more appreciation for the film majors out there. My brother happens to be a film major and I always thought that he had it so easy, but in reality, writing, shooting, and editing a video is a huge process. People who make films have to stylistically decide what ideas they want to be vocalized and what they want to be supplemented by images and video. Even in my short video, a lot of thought went into the visuals and in what ways I wanted them to speak for themselves. I then had to decide what I should say in words and when I should be saying them. Overall, this project opened my eyes to the effort that goes into creating an impact through video, and the possibilities of working with video.
I related very closely to dana boyd’s depiction of social media. In chapter three she talks about how kids rely on social media due to their limited freedoms: “For them, Facebook was the only way to stay connected”(boyd 85). Boyd does a very good job at grasping how younger people use social media. She accurately describes how children in this generation no longer have the time or opportunity to hang out with their friends in person as often. Instead, friendships need to be maintained over Facebook and other social media platforms. Social media allows for a sense of no limitations.
When I was in middle school but mostly high school, I became too busy to hang out with my friends every week. The only time I would see people was in school. I had to rely on texting and Facebook in order to communicate and keep up with what people were doing. My mom would tell me to go and hang out with my friends, but in this day and age, that is unrealistic. With the limited amount of time this generation has, it is almost impossible to make time to travel to your friend to hang out with them. My parents talk about how when they were young they would come home from school and walk to their friend’s house. Maybe my experience is so different because of where I live, but I could never just walk to a friend’s house. I would need my parents to drive me which with increasingly busy schedules became more and more difficult.
Dana boyd does a very good job at highlighting the disconnect between kids and their parents. In the beginning of the book and especially the third chapter, boyd goes back and forth between the opinions of kids and the opinions of parents. The younger and older generations have an extremely large disconnect. Parents have a perception that children are out of control on the internet and social media. On the other hand, parents know much less about social media so how can they say that we’re out of control? The younger generation needs to use social media in order to stay connected with the world around them. A song that I really like called My World by Kid Cudi has references to how kids need their social media accounts in order to stay connected to other people even when you aren’t with them in person.
The Shallows by Nicholas Carr is all about how technology is causing our brains to change. That change is making it harder for us to engage with each other in ways we used to in the past. Carr seems to blame this all on our devices, but I don’t think that is very fair. We are the reason for these technological advances. Computers and phones wouldn’t keep advancing if we didn’t have such a reliance on them. Carr introduces this idea: “Even as our technologies become extensions of ourselves, we become extensions of our technologies”(Carr 209). Just as much as we need technology, technology needs us. Every year Apple comes out with a new phone because the last generation iPhone no longer fulfills our needs. Technology is only trying to keep up with our advancements.
Laptops, iPhone’s, and other technological devices have all become a part of our lives. I look at those types of devices as an extension of ourselves both physically and mentally. The image that goes along with this post represents how we are becoming one with our devices. I go everywhere with my phone in my hand, and if my phone is somewhere else I feel uncomfortable and like I’m missing something. Phones have become extensions of our physical bodies in the sense that we can never put them down. It’s as if they’re a part of our hands. Mentally, technology has also intertwined with who we are. Our devices hold so much information about our lives they are an extra part of our brains. My phone holds hundreds of songs that feels like a personal diary, thousands of photos that preserve my memories, and millions of texts that allow me to connect with people regardless of where they are. Technology may have consequences, but no one could live without it.
The second half of the book continues to address the idea that technology is changing who we are. Carr suggests that technology has become an extension of us just as we become an extension of our technologies. I agree with him in that sense, but if that’s true then why can Carr put so much blame on technology? He describes it as being reliant on us meaning technology couldn’t thrive without its consumer. Technology wouldn’t be advancing if it wasn’t for humans demanding and craving those new advancements. Carr’s blame for our problems on technology is not fair. We can’t blame technology because we can’t live without it.
The beginning chapters of The Shallows by Nicholas Carr address the argument that the brain has been changed by technology. I don’t agree with Carr in the sense that technology has fundamentally changed our brains, but instead changed how we have to use our brains. A quote that really stood out to me in the first six chapters was: “The history of language is also a history of the mind”(Carr 51). Before the internet was a prominent part of society, how people used their minds was much different than today. I believe that the way we think and use our brains has evolved over time.
As technology has continued to revolutionize, so has the way our minds work. The language we use has also evolved with technology, and therefore, the language we use evolves with our mind. Carr explains how reading long books has become harder and harder with the development of platforms that allow you to connect to information much faster. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have altered our language. Words have become abbreviated and condensed in order to fit full thoughts into 140 characters. I personally find myself using slang that was born on social media platforms in conversations. Words like “yolo” have become an official word in the dictionary, and we need to adjust to the way language is evolving.
Going back to an article that was shared on Twitter, emoji’s have become a common aspect of our online language and often blur the lines of what we are trying to communicate. Speaking to each other through pictures is another advancement that our language has made, and our minds had to learn how to perceive and hold a conversation using those images. Language has grown tremendously from having no spaces between words to using images of smiley faces and vegetables to talk to each other. I believe while our brains are fundamentally the same, we use our minds in a different way in order to use today’s language to communicate. On the other hand, the new language has come with consequences like emphasizing the generation gap. The article linked earlier shows how an older generation can misinterpret language predominately used in texting and social media platforms. In order to seamlessly communicate with each other, every generation must conform their minds to the evolution of language and technology.