Alone Together.

I enjoyed the readings for this week’s class. And as a parent, I found myself feeling really nervous about parenting two girls who will someday have to experience adolescence.

ETA: It wasn’t the about the technology. It was more about the fact that ohmygod isn’t it really hard to be a teenager? Ever? 1960. 1990. or 2020.

Although in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve seen (and thought it myself) college friends post the following on Facebook:

“Wow. So glad there wasn’t Facebook or Twitter when I was in college. Scary.” 

Thinking back. Well, I agree.

Grace, age 5, talking on her cell phone (a domino).

However, on about every four pages of the readings, I found myself scribbling comments like:

“How is this different from letter writing?”

“How is this new?”

I appreciate the scholarly look at new media, but found Turkle to be conflicted. She was working so hard to show how things are so vastly different now, but even called back several historical examples of how things weren’t really so different. Her own trip to Paris as a teenager, her example of Roxanne and someone writing text messages on behalf of a friend, Victorian calling cards. But, then shifted back to saying it was so different.

I could just hear in my head the following assessment of use of the railways:

“Ever since the tracks were laid, people are able to get to California in record time. What ever happened to the good old days when it took a year to get to California? In our covered wagon, we talked, we struggled, people died.  We knew what it meant to be together and work together.”

I honestly believe the author is trying to dissect and apply a new media lens, and finding that things aren’t really that different. Teenagers now text or send an IM. When I was in middle school, people sent notes. There was no face to face. There were entire relationships carried out over “teen lines” all over America. I talked with my boyfriend on the phone nightly. But, when we got together in person I could hardly make eye contact with him and I definitely didn’t hold his hand.

Bottom line: I really don’t think these topics are a new phenomenon. I think there are nuances to understand. But, I think at the end of the day, we are humans. These technologies do change some experiences. But, if it wasn’t a text message, it would be a note. Or a phone call. Or a sock hop. There would be some medium to carry things out. The mediums just happen to be shinier and quicker now.

To be totally cliché: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Discussion Leader Questions/Comments

Turkle: Introduction

Do you anticipate a backlash in the way people use technology? When I first began my life post-college, people had cell phones, but there was no Wi-Fi readily available, text messages were just getting started, and it wasn’t uncommon to be off the grid. Do you think this dramatic increase in expecting connectivity will bite back? How will this look?

Turkle: Chapter 8

The example of Cyborgs and their perceived “odd” habits, which are now commonplace really intrigued me. Are there examples of up and coming technology you feel are just too out there for use by individuals in their regular life? For me, it is Google Glass. I see the utility in the technology, but I really cannot see people walking around wearing Google Glass on a daily basis.  I also find blue tooth headsets to be really disruptive. Turkle discusses in her book how wearers of these devices walk in public having very private conversations, and how society has grown to accept this as ok. And give the person anonymity to carry out these functions in public.

I also was fascinated by the concept of multi-tasking as a point of great pride. It’s talked about in job descriptions and touted on resumes.  Are there areas of life or work that don’t value multi-tasking? Or where it is seen as detriment? I’m think of examples like the slow food movement or free-range parenting.

Turkle: Chapter 9

How will the hyper-connectivity we are experiencing impact technology? Do you think there will be a backlash amongst teens that want to be away from “overbearing” parents? Leaving phones at home, or even more dramatically, not even owning a cell phone? Do you have examples of this?

Turkle: Chapter 10

Have you noticed a trend towards your intimate circle growing smaller and smaller, and along with that circle growing smaller, fewer and fewer people who you are willing to give precious phone time to?

I’ve heard from friends who are teachers who say students use text language in papers, students don’t know how to speak in public. I found the example in Turkle’s Chapter 10 really interesting about how Audrey didn’t know how to end a phone call. And she actually experienced separation as rejection. Do you have examples of how technologies have impacted professional or life skills in those you have encountered?

Raine & Wellman Reading

Again, this reading left me with the question “how is this different?” My bottom line is that technology, in this given situation, has just made things quicker and more efficient. I believe the resources talked about around Trudy’s injury would have been brought together, but much slower. Can you think of examples of times where your world seemed a bit smaller or processes/projects were sped up due to the use of technology?

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