Media Saturation, Social Isolation

04Sep11

The advancement of technology has created what Mark Deuze calls “personal information spaces” in all aspects of our lives (2007). We are constantly immersed in a variety of media such as our cell phones, computers, video games and social networking sites. Of course there are many benefits to technology but I often wonder if some of it has gone too far.

Like Emmalyn, I worked at a music camp this summer but we faced the opposite problem. We spend a lot of money and setup time ordering and installing modems that keep our tech-savvy New Yorkers from complaining about not having Internet for six weeks. I often find it astonishing how quickly the campers post photos or videos from rehearsals on Facebook or YouTube where we pretty much have a play-by-play of what everyone’s up to. Personally, I had to deactivate receiving messages from our camp’s Facebook group because my email inbox was exploding with notifications, unimportant messages, daily birthday announcements, etc.

It doesn’t end with summer though. Not even school-aged students can manage to spend a few hours away from the media. According to a New York Times article, the ban on social networking sites hasn’t stopped students from finding ways around them – including thousands of websites that enable them to do so [1].

On August 26th, a survey was released announcing that fifty percent of all Americans use social networking sites as opposed to only five percent six years ago [2]. This drastic increase led to one of my favorite articles of the summer: Taking Stock and Decluttering, an article that gives eight tips to “help manage your digital life” and prevent “social networking burnout” [3].
Tip number two gives you three different sites to help you streamline multiple networks while tip number three gives you six sites to write tweets in advance and publish them later, and number seven offers three sites to help you measure
your networking progress and three sites to see how influential you are. By the time you’re finished, you’re dealing with four times the number of websites you’d initially have to!

Despite all of that, the truth is that people hate being away from the Internet in our highly individualized society – a society in which each of us is at the center of all things that can be personalized, a life that is at the center of information and communication technologies. We spend more and more time behind computers or hand-held devices and have created a world where work, life and play have become united (Deuze, 2007) as is evidenced by students using Facebook during class or musicians posting YouTube videos during rehearsals.  Keeping up with this fast-paced information age of instantaneously connected networks and electronic intrusion makes our lives transparent yet completely socially isolated (2007).

K. Rudolph

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