Persistence in Technology

While reading the first half of Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated, I was able to immediately connect to the text since it constantly makes references that I see in my own life. She does not write it in as negative of a manner as Carr, just realistically which I enjoyed reading. She talks about the unwritten rules of society such as who sits where at the school football game depending on seniority as well as how we have changed the original purpose of social media. I have to agree with Boyd in these chapters, because realistically why do we need to be messaging our best friends right when we get home from school, when we should be interacting with our family or at least taking a break from technology.

The way that Boyd talks about persistence in relation to social media and technology amongst millennials really fascinated me. The example on page 11 really stood out to me; “Alice may write to Bob at midnight while Bob is sound asleep; but when Bob wakes up in the morning or comes back from summer camp three weeks later, that message will still be there waiting for him, even if Alice and Bob had forgotten about it” (Boyd 11). There are so many nights during the week where I fall asleep mid text message conversation, yet it picks right back up when I respond in the morning as if no time has gone by. Since a conversation over technology is not in the present, it can essentially be paused at any time. Just like Bob in Boyd’s example, I also went to overnight camp and had to go through the touch separation from all technology for seven weeks at a time. I would have to disagree with Boyd that a conversation can pick right back up weeks later because from my experience all I wanted when I got home was to sleep and not yet get engulfed in the overwhelming presence of communication through technology. For a number of days though, the conversation can most definitely by paused and picked back up at any time since chances are, it is not that crucial to one’s life if it is occurring through typed out text rather than on the phone or in person.

Many parents give their children a cell phone for the purpose of keeping in contact with them after school or on the weekends. That makes total sense, of course a parent wants to know the whereabouts of their child. But as cell phones and technology become more popular and more present, kids start to live their lives pretty much through technology. Jenny Schmitt is able to further explain this concept in her talk that essentially describes the majority of kids under the age of eighteen. Once a child is given a cell phone, there is no going back.

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Life: Public By Default

I mindlessly scrolled through Facebook on my phone when, from the corner of my eye, I saw a little red mark appear at the notification symbol. I stopped to ponder (for about a millisecond) what could this notification possibly be for. Did a friend tag me in a post that he or she found hilarious? Was it a reminder that tomorrow was an acquaintance’s birthday? Did a friend upload a photo pf the two of us? I clicked on the notification only to find I had been horribly wrong. It was my mother commenting on an embarrassing photo of myself from the year 2010, every millennial’s worst nightmare. Why was she on my profile looking through my old photos and commenting on them? Embarrassed was an understatement; although thinking about it, the entire situation seems insignificant. I proceeded to delete every photo that I found to be mortifying.

danah boyd encapsulates teenager’s sentiments towards social media relatively accurately in her literary piece, “It’s Complicated”. boyd delves into an analytic approach on the sociology behind the way young adults utilize the internet, social media, and technology. boyd strays away from criticizing social media, taking on a different method from Carr and instead providing raw insight, unbiased commentary, and real examples of the influence and change that technology has brought about for this generation, such as, parents checking up on their children over the Internet and even commenting etiquette between family and who the status was intended for. Her points are thought-provoking; I began to question my usage of social media and how I may use it differently from an acquaintance of mine. I found that not only do I agree with the points boyd makes, but as someone who has dealt with and thought about some of the notions mentioned in the text, I was able to relate.

boyd uses a sociological lens to further her points, making her examples stick out to me. She provided an example of the difference between a black high school soccer player, who was not provided with a name, and his white high school classmate named Matthew. The black student focused mostly on portraying his profile in a way that resembled a resume to impress potential recruiters, while Matthew, the white student, shared images and other statuses that could possibly have negative connotations when interpreted in the wrong way. Personally, I try to remain somewhat ‘clean cut’ on Facebook as I am friends with my family and old teachers from high school. It doesn’t occur to me even that I subconsciously think about something before I post it; I can create myself on Facebook and the person I want to portray. However, there might be more to say on the topic of race. When looking at the situation between the black and white high school student, there is a disparity about how race may play into the social freedoms of posting whatever you want online. There could be a possibility that I may be thinking too in depth on this subject, but with the injustices towards black people, how they are constantly scrutinized by the public while white people are excused for most things, the idea does not seem too far gone.

boyd explores this idea of customizing yourself on social media and who it is you want to be. You can hide certain parts of your life, treat the Internet as your diary, or generally joke around about your identity. There is so much power to that and a general concept that the older generations do not understand. boyd illustrates that there is a completely different mentality online, on social media rather. We understand that we control certain aspects of what people see, what we say, how we say it, and who we interact with. In other words, taken from boyd, if you so choose to, your life can be public by default.

No Limitations

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.

 

Social Media – Friend not Foe

As digital natives, it is in our nature to defend the digital world we live in. In contrast to Carr’s The Shallows, dana boyd takes our side and gives us detailed arguments for justifying and supporting something as prevalent as social media within her book It’s Complicated. Social media is not the end of humanity but simply a form of communicating and socializing. It is true for most teens including myself that social media channels can be simple outlets for expression. However, as the days go on, it is becoming increasingly evident that these different social media mediums/channels are the tools we may use to our advantage in order to fulfill a specific objective.

In Chapter 3 on Addiction, boyd talks about all the opportunities social media provides for all and how teens can gain the most knowledge from it. I heavily enjoyed all her points specifically on page 95 where she states that “…teens need to learn how to engage in crucial aspects of maturation: self-presentation, managing social relationships, and developing an understanding of the world around them.” We can do and gain so much more from social media outlets such as Instagram and Twitter instead of effortlessly posting the meal we ate that day. It is up to us to take control of our lives and realize how lucky we are that we can legitimately put ourselves out into the field of work we choose to work in by promoting ourselves online. Our presence/presentation of ourselves on social media can make or break future job prospects and it is up to us to know how to strategically maneuver ourselves around the online social presence.

Within the Look and Listen audio post, on The Anthropology of Social Media it is discussed how social media provides greater control in communication. Everything we post onto social media is purposeful. The audio post also touches upon the fact that we feel a pressure to have a social media presence. Similar to the high school student boyd interviewed, Amy, whom felt that technology was her way of connecting to a world expanding greater than the constraints of the walls within her house. Aside from our personal pressures and desires to have a social media presence, we must acknowledge that there is so much you can do with social media and the minor things where and when to post could actually be major in the long run. An easy example of social media being used for more than just a frivolous purpose is how we use it in our class. We have a class hashtag and with that we can attain and gather all sorts of information with any regards to our class. We must take control of our social situations and the platforms that are so easily at our fingertips.

The Evolution of Me

Goodbye Carr, hello Boyd. After Carr’s 257 pages of constant criticism on technology and the many negative effects it has not only on our social interaction, but on our actual brain connections, Boyd’s polar opposite mindset feels as if I can finally come up for air. I have never truly resonated so much with a book until now. Honestly, at times, I find her analysis of teens and their uses of technology to be creepingly accurate. It’s almost as if she has opened a window to my brain, and can see everything I think and feel. Boyd is finally the one adult that seems to understand the processes I go through everyday regarding what I post, who I post to, and even when to post.

In the first few chapters of her book, Boyd talks about identity expression and steganography. In her discussion of identity expression, Boyd explains how teens use social media as a way to find themselves and transition from childhood to adulthood. Because of the various networks the internet has to offer, many teens find themselves having to create different personas and identities on each site. Myself, included. When I first opened an account on Facebook, I used it as a way to connect with friends old and new.  Just as Boyd describes, I used to add my best friends as part of my “family” and constantly post on their walls just to say hello. Now, 9 years after creating a profile, my use of Facebook is limited to reposting Buzzfeed videos and checking the pages of the clubs I’m involved in. I don’t see Facebook as a means to follow the lives of my friends anymore, because a lot of people my age no longer use Facebook as vigorously as before. My current identity expression is most seen on my Instagram. There, I purposely plan what pictures I post and how they are presented, hoping to make an impression on people. To me, Instagram is sort of like my brand. It advertises my life, relationships, and hobbies. Anyone could get a clear sense of who I am and what I like to do, just by scrolling through my feed.

I specifically resonated with Boyd’s introduction to steganography in the digital age: subtweeting. We’ve all done it or have seen someone do it. And boy does it suck when you’re the person who is being subtweeted about. Or at least, you think the subtweet was about you…was it? I can’t tell you how many times I have read my friends’ subtweets and wondered whether they were talking about me. The crazy thing is, I will still wonder even when nothing has happened between me and that friend for a subtweet to be initiated. Any time that I have tried to subtweet, it always ends up back firing on me. If I am upset with someone and I subtweet them, I am always contacted by random people asking if I’m okay. Or worse, the person I subtweeted confronts me about it. This has happened so often, that I have stopped all subtweeting in general, afraid of someone reading my tweets and posts out of context. Boyd points out this very issue in Chapter 1. She talks about how all posts can be taken out of context, because the writer or “poster” doesn’t intend for their message to be read by everyone. They only have a distinct audience in mind.

As I continue to read her work, I am sure more of my own experiences will match many of the examples that she provides as evidence to her points. I look forward to reading more on her refreshing view of teens and technology. Her optimistic viewpoint certainly decreases the fear I once had about technology ruining our lives. (Thanks a lot, Carr)

Is Technology Really the Problem?

Everyday, the world gets gifted with some sort of new technology, whether it be helpful or not. Most of the time, the new technology has many upsides and capabilities and that attracts kids. when kids and teens get their hands on new technology they tend to become addicted for a while and parents and adults seem to blame technology for having a negative impact on a kid’s life. Danah Boyd wrote, “It is easier for adults to blame technology for undesirable outcomes than to consider other social, cultural, and personal factors that may be at play” (Its Complicated, p.99). The thing is that Boyd is right. Yes, maybe technology is part of the reason for bad outcomes but I think it does not have a big enough impact to be the reason for bad things happening and I think adults do not understand that technology is part of kids lives now. Back in the day a lot of the technological things (Iphones, xbox, Ipads, tablets, etc) did not exist so adults were not capable of experiencing the same things kids do today, so when they comment about how technology is bad for the younger generations, they are arguing from a stance where they never got a hands on experience. I do think that society plays a big part in undesirable outcomes because the people in society have created a new norm of how to live and if someone does not live the same way then their considered an outcast so I think that all these expectations placed on the younger kids pressure them into becoming something they truly are not or they do not show their real identity.

Another thing Boyd wrote about was how children in today’s day and age are becoming addicted to technology, comparing it to drugs and alcohol abuse. I think that is going a bit over board with the comparisons because yes kids and teens tend to always seem to be on their phones and laptops but by doing that they’re still not causing harm to their bodies. In this little segment, they talk about how young people are not necessarily addicted to technology, but they over use it instead. Again, I have to bring it back to the fact that older people grew up in a whole new generation with less technology available to them so they don’t quite understand how life has changed dramatically and everything is so much different compared to their time period.

Text Interpretations

“In speaking to an unknown or invisible audience, it is impossible and unproductive to account for the full range of plausible interpretations.” Pg 32

I would add to this that using text instead of voice adds to another layer of possible misinterpretations. On social media I often see people quoting songs, tv shows, or speeches or interviews that they feel the need to share. By putting spoken word into text and taking out context they are able to change the meaning of whatever they want.

For example, Donald Trump, while a master of Twitter, is apparently unaware of scare quotes. Scare quotes are “quotation marks used around a word or phrase when they are not required, thereby eliciting attention or doubts”, or, in other words, they make the quoted word sound ironic. So when Donald Trump says:

 

“I win an election easily, a great “movement” is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS”

 

He probably doesn’t intend to mean that the word “movement” was used to belittle his own movement, but it humorously can be interpreted this way.

(WordPress won’t let me upload an audio file without a premium account so here’s a youtube video of me explaining.)

Donald Trump is fairly certain that people will interpret his tweet the way he intends, mostly because he is such a famous figure that most people understand his stance and thus know how to read his tweets. But when, the examples given in the book, parents read their childrens’ posts online, there is a generational disconnect that could lead the parents to completely misunderstand what is said.

While Donald Trump’s intentions are easy to understand due to his public presence, not every hashtag and quote is as easily put into context. Take for example the recent Digiorno Pizza debacle, where the official Twitter account for the product completely missed the point of a hashtag, and had to apologize.

youhadpizza

It’s easy to make a mistake like that, because the words that make up the hashtag don’t, by themselves, indicate what the hashtag is about. Further context is needed.
I wholeheartedly agree with the text that plausible interpretations are hard things to control for when posting on social media. The contexts of conversations or hashtags, slang and symbols of different groups and generations, and translations from spoken tone to written word are all things that could lead a reader to interpret something that the author didn’t intend.