Hello Professor Reagle,
Here is the link to my reading response for tomorrows class. https://hackmd.io/41AbVYbDRCONOvWLFS_5jg
Reading Response 1
Before this reading, I had never really considered how easy we have in regards to communicating with other people thanks to technology. However, the fact that some people sleep with their phone under their pillow to feel “less alone” (Clayton et al., 2015; Srivastava,200) is slightly concerning. The fact that we live in a hyperconnected world has its benefits, but it also has a couple of drawbacks. Chayko mentions that asynchronous communication is convenient in many different aspects such as being able to communicate with people who are not nearby and having a way to always feel connected to someone. Practically, we have our lives mapped out in a small screen in front of our eyes and most people are extremely dependent on that, but this is where the drawbacks arrive. Chayko talks about the “McDonalized” theory developed by socialist George Ritzer and I would say that he makes a valid argument. People are virtually renouncing their whole lives to technology and are essentially becoming controlled by it.
Chayko also brings in the idea that “by giving women an easy, convenient way to do this (check in on family and friends), social media can reduce their stress levels” (Hampton, Rainie, Lu, Shin,&Purcell,2015). I would disagree with this statement because on many occasions social media sparks feelings of jealousy and “FOMO” because they are not a part of what is going on. I’ve known multiple people that complain about not being a part of something or comparing themselves to people who they see on social media. However, the reading says that the researchers found that most social media users do not suffer from “FOMO”, so I wonder what was the demographic that they used for this study? (I believe that the results would be different if you asked an older age group versus a group of teenagers).
Did I go into this reading fully prepared to being called out for my superconnectedness? Yes. Did I still enjoy it? Also yes.
In Mary Chayko’s Superconnected, she spends some time going over the benefits and hazards of constant online availability. Social media, video games, and the internet in general have made humans more connected than ever before. The developments and advancements in the field of technology have been designed to make life more convenient for humans. However, the reading mentions the “irrationality of rationality” example, which suggests that these tools perform their job so well that humans’s rationality or sensibility decreases. I found this incredibly interesting because it is something that I have found myself being a part of. As I was reading this, I could only think back to how a mere few days ago I tried to schedule send an email to Professor Reagle and accidentally sent it in the moment. I lean on technology to such an extent that I often find myself not paying attention to details and trying to multitask.
While I do feel like there is much to gain about the state of technological interconectedness of the modern world, things Chayko mentions such as providing comfort, empowerment and fast relief in case of emergencies, I strongly believe that it should not be the only connection to the world. It was hard to be a student, work as a co-op, maintain my social life with family and friends all around the world through screens during the pandemic. I have definitely felt a difference in my mood and overall energy, productivity, and excitement from being back in person and I will not take the outside world for granted ever again!
We often find ourselves glued to our screens regardless of the scenario we’re in. We could be bored out of our minds, busy with assignments, spending time with friends or family, or even just going a few floors up on an elevator. Yet we still have to scratch that itch and pull out our devices to immediately text that friend back or check out the latest social media happenings.
Throughout her piece Superconnected, Chayko alternates between the positive and negative effects of staying interconnected via the Internet and technology. For one, there exist online platforms for those with shared interests to gather on a much greater scale than previously possible, ultimately creating a shared feeling of “being plugged in, superconnected, part of a whole” (Chayko, 2002, 2008). Technology also provides young people with a constant means of communications in cases of boredom and even emergencies. Activities such as gaming may even hone decision making, problem solving and delayed gratification skills (Chayko, 2008).
But Chayko also details several drawbacks of our heavily tech-saturated environment. For instance, the female online gaming community has faced their fair share of sexual harassment and misogyny. Growing trends in technological reliance has also raised concerns about diminishing attention spans, obsession over how others perceive oneself, and addiction. These issues are especially seen amongst younger generations.
Upon reading Chayko’s piece, the following questions arose: Should companies continue their technological advancements in order to facilitate connectedness or take a step back from promoting an overly tech-saturated society? Where exactly is that line drawn?
Additionally, Chayko brings up a valid point in the section regarding dependency and addiction about how it may actually be more beneficial to assess underlying reasons as to why an individual may overly indulge in internet use or immerse themselves in online social networks. This also leads me to wonder, Should the focus be on altering the technology we use to prevent overconsumption, or should it be on the users themselves?
How can the internet simultaneously solve and create all of our most pressing problems? Author Mary Chayko explains how by delving into the dichotomies the internet generates in our lives in their piece “More Benefits and Hazards of 24/7 Super Connectedness”. Chayko discusses technology-related topics that impact us daily such as the convenience of technology and information overloads to get to the root of how they are inherently beneficial but have problematic outcomes in the long term. Technological advancements initially made our lives easier; we could now consistently stay connected to loved ones who lived far away and escape our stressful days by turning on our devices. But how much have we considered the fact that the newfound ability to make plans quickly also enables people to cancel at a moment’s notice? Or that being able to engage with a community online could detract from your ability to connect with those around you?
As someone who grew up around technology, the section I found to be most pertinent was the discussion about multitasking and attention spans. Chayko goes into detail on how the fluidity of the internet giving leeway to jumping from one task to another shortens young people’s attention spans, making it increasingly difficult to focus on one task for a long period of time. Reading these paragraphs made me realize how often I have experienced and seen this behavior in effect, I’ll constantly check my notifications as I’m doing schoolwork and feel the need to be in a specific headspace to complete big assignments, or to be in the “flow” as the article describes. The theory that “modern brains may be undergoing an evolutionary adaptation to the technology-rich media environment” (Chayko 186) struck me as appalling and haunting, I wouldn’t wish upon the next generation to have shorter attention spans or gravitate more towards their devices than their surroundings. I’m left questioning do we want our children to grow up more adaptable to technology than us or do we want the next generation to have a greater appreciation for their physical environment than we do?
As our modern society becomes more media saturated, technological advancements such as social media and the internet has allowed us to stay connected to anyone regardless of location and time - we live in a society of 24/7 superconnectedness. With the easy accessibility of the internet and human’s basic need for social interaction, Mary Chayko mentions how “human beings need to feel at home in the world,” and they do so by staying plugged in.
Looking at how the world has recently responded to COVID-19, we can observe how technology has become crucial in pushing our society onwards even during a pandemic. For example, Zoom has allowed students to continue their studies during the pandemic from all across the world. However, Chayko argues that the immersion of technology into our society is actually a double-edged sword. Since our society is extremely reliant upon technology, simply disconnecting from the online world can create stress and anxiety for many people as every aspect in our lives has, to some extent, become digitalized. People may experience severe FOMO (fear of missing out) because they feel the constant need to stay connected and “be in the know” about everything going on - even though that is impossible. While Chayko mentions we should not blame technology for this, because so much of our life is revolved around staying online, it makes it that much more difficult for people not to feel as if they are “excluded” from society - particularly, the prevalent culture of Tiktok has become a crucial part in social interaction amongst teenagers.
While technology has become a crucial part of our lives, this also makes me question the basic privilege of even having regular access to technology - specifically what happens to the population of lower class citizens who cannot afford to keep up with our continuously digitalized world? Will they not be able to integrate into our tech-intensive society?
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The article itself was very interesting because I’m someone who enjoys challenging societal beliefs and the idea of Epistemology really stood true to me. However, that made me question what if I fell victim to the Agnotology used by people on the media to create Epistemology. While the media and technology can be used as a medium to reach mass audience (for negative intentions included), how we use that information is still up to us. Just because information, both controversial and scientific, is available to us does not mean our power to assess it’s reliability and validity is null. The problem isn’t that information like these is out in public but that people are simply not educated on the negative effects the media can have (fake/biased information included).
The progressive advancement of technology has created a society which relies more heavily on it’s usage. People using it more, trusting it more and overall relying on it more. Technology has become an apparent part of our lives. It is also easily accessible. As such, technology can be used as a tool to reach mass audiences. Technology’s accessibility has made it easier for people to manipulate mass audience as seen in the article Agnotology and Epistemological Fragmentation. One of the ideas that stood out was how the seed of agnotology is made easily plantable through technology as it allows doubtful, controversial information to reach mass audiences before truthful scientific information. Technology has served as a channel to reach mass audiences and some people are finding ways to exploit it. Last class we talked about technology and its relation to the double-edged sword. Since technology is a channel to reach mass audiences, why can’t we make scientific knowledge more accessible? What if it is? Is the double edge sword defined by technology itself and how it functions, or defined in relation to how humans choose to use it. Say scientific information is easily accessible to the public just like doubtful controversial information, what would you rather watch?
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The hyper-connectedness of the internet can be seen as both a blessing and a curse, depending of course, on how one chooses to view this issue. Our meeting spaces and availability to connect have moved almost entirely online, especially now in the age of the pandemic. It moves to ask this simple question: is this age of constant availability a good or a bad thing? Mary Chayko writes that technology has pervaded people’s online and offline lives, and this statement stood out to me because even when I think I’m offline, I’m not. Through social media and technologies, our availability has drastically increased, and anyone can be accessed at any time. Even when I’m not on my devices, I am still actively receiving notifications, and constantly thinking about if anyone needs to reach me, also affecting my attention throughout the day. Through this also comes micro coordination, the last-minute coordination of plans. While micro coordination also benefits in increasing availability, it can make upcoming plans seem insincere and non-important, ultimately taking the natural human element out of something as simple as meeting a friend for coffee, just call them.
It seems as though this constant interconnectivity and increase in availability have taken away from a fundamental part of human connection, and in a way it has. Twitting at other users can be substituted for a watch party with close friends, multitasking and an increase in distractions has resulted in feelings of being overwhelmed, the need to want to check our social media in “fear of missing out” has engulfed our thoughts, and it is easy to become addicted to technology. However, emergencies can be attended to faster, friends and family can be reached within seconds, even when they are hundreds of miles away, and our sense of “ontological security” is still being fulfilled as there is still a continuing and growing sense of community online and the offline one is still strong. Ultimately, this argument raises the question and debate about how much technology use is too much? Technology is an important advancement, has become a fundamental part of our everyday lives, and provides more highs than lows, but this is as long as it is used correctly and in moderation. However, everybody’s definition of correct and in moderation is different, and here the problem begins.
Below please find my reading response for the Superconnected reading.
Homepage Link: https://hackmd.io/@spencerserels/r1RRmrTGY
Reading response link: https://hackmd.io/@spencerserels/SJh64NAzK
“The internet and digital media are not responsible for the stresses and pressures of modern life;more often than not, they help people manage these stresses”. A phrase In the reading Superconnected by Mary Chayko, stuck out because it is easy for people to blame social media for problems, but also take the positives for granted. The article begins with some of the positives technology has brought us. It attributes the internet and social media for bringing people together in a way that was not possible. The next section, convenience, and microcoordination discuss how the internet has made tasks that were once near impossible available in seconds. Cell phones have made gatherings and meetings with people from all over a common occurrence. The internet has made it possible for those who were once bored to fill their time with online entertainment. It has also allowed those with a shared interest to “become full-fledged cultures, with rules, rituals, symbolic boundaries, and initiation practices by which fans gain access to an inner circle”.
“There is much concern that attention spans are diminishing in the digital era, though this, too, is difficult to quantify with precision. Many have become accustomed to posting digital updates frequently, or checking in with friends, or simply looking at or scrolling through digitizer screen” Some of the negatives that social media and the internet have brought on to society are decreasing attention span, a need for instant gratification, and constant updates. Social media also has created a new level of FOMO, since everyone can see what others are doing. This can lead people to have increased anxiety.
A debate that has long been in question since phones have become a necessity to everyday life, are phones an addiction or a dependency? With evidence that can back both sides of the argument, the debate continues. Phones could be considered an addiction because people feel unwell if their phone is not with them at all times, it has come to the point where people even sleep with their phones. At the same time, the argument can be made that phones are a dependency for health and safety reasons. Some people feel disconnected from society without their phones or even feel unsafe walking without them. I think it is an important question to think about, are you addicted to your phone or is it just a dependency?
Thank You, Spencer Serels BS Candidate in Business Administration and Communication Studies Northeastern University | Class of 2023 203-362-8166 firstname.lastname@example.org:email@example.com
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“People expect one another to be available at all times” (Chayko, 2017). This quote seemed to jump off the page at me while I was reading through Chayko’s superconnected because I couldn’t agree more with this statement. Because we carry around a device pretty much at all times we really are expected to be constantly willing to connect with others. It’s mind boggling to think that someone can always be available to you and yet I find myself waiting for someone to respond to my text and thinking to myself they have definitely been on their phone it’s been 10 minutes why is there no response…
Being so connected can be a lot to handle. Chayko describes how before we carried around the world of technology in our pockets, it was possible for people to have relatively small circles of other people that they connected with - this seems impossible today. In today’s world we don’t have to search for more connections. Instead, as quoted in Chayko’s superconnected, “individuals must decide exactly how available they want to be’’ (Castells 2011; Chayko, 2008; Fortunati, 2002; Katz & Aakhus, 2002; Marwick & byod, 2011). What I mean by this is that often in life people start small and work to get bigger, or better, or faster at something. With technology and being connected it’s the opposite. You quite literally start with the world at your fingertips and then you, individually, need to decide how you will use this power to stay connected - carefully evaluating how much technology you can handle.
Chayko writes that “The internet and digital media are not responsible for the stresses and pressures of modern life; more often than not, they help people manage these stresses” (2017). I don’t agree with this. While I understand that the internet can simplify things: you can call your loved ones easier, find out necessary information about the world around you, and so on - claiming that the internet is not responsible for stress or pressure, is too broad of a statement for me to get behind. While I agree with a lot of what Chayko wrote, after reading this piece I believe that I think the world of technology and its power can be more frightening than Chayko does.
he/him/his Northeastern University Class of 2024 Candidate for Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Communication Studies with a Concentration in Marketing Senator, Student Government Association of Northeastern University
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Hello Professor Reagle, here is my reading response for tomorrow’s class. Thank you!
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“Would you rather give up your phone forever, or give up one of your senses forever?” Five years ago, I wouldn’t bat an eye at this question. I liked my phone, but it wasn’t that important. But now, I’m glued to my devices for hours in a day, whether for school, work, chatting, or play. Has my answer changed? Would I be willing to never smell again if it meant that I could keep in contact with my friends across the world?
Our society has become increasingly integrated and reliant on technology, even in only the past two decades. Cell phones have replaced newspapers, social media have replaced billboards, and kiosks have replaced food service workers. Is it possible to walk outside and not see a screen? Chayko dubs this phenomenon as 24/7 superconnectedness–and she explores the various benefits and hazards of it. For example, the constant availability of “information, resources, and other people” can provide a good feeling, like there is always a helpful companion with you. However, people who over-rely on digital media can feel “anxious, lost, and unmoored when disconnected.”
I can personally attest to this–though I try to unplug, I typically don’t go more than an hour without turning on some sort of screen. All of my work can be completed on a computer, and any questions I have are simply a Google search away. Even when I’m out on the town, I’ll still take my phone out to look at a map, send a text, or snap a photo. I don’t remember the last time I went a full 24 hours without using any device. And is it even possible anymore in this age, with the constant stream of work that must be completed digitally? It’s unlikely, unless I decide to drop out of college and become a cow rancher in Kansas.
Another major point Chayko brings up is multitasking and attention span. Multitasking is difficult enough as is, since it’s doing “several complex cognitive tasks simultaneously. If one chronically attempts to multitask throughout their daily life, they will likely “suffer cognitive and behavioral deficits.” Giving continuous partial attention to many things at once can be overwhelming and stress-inducing. I can attest to this because I am often distracted by my phone and other outside influences while I’m trying to work. I know that my attention span is also not as good as it used to be. This trend is common among people who consistently use technology, which begs the question–what course should we head towards next as a society, as our bodies and minds change? Should we leave the need for change in the hands of the people, or should we somehow put the responsibility on tech companies and manufacturers? Or should we embrace this as our new way of life, welcoming digital burnout and 24/7 superconnectedness happily into our lives?