Is the Internet Considered Real World?

A little funny story about technology before I get started on my reaction to this week’s readings. My sister attends UW-Stout and her boyfriend lives in Minneapolis. They use Skype every night to talk to one another, however, the internet was out for 4 days at her boyfriend’s apartment and I got a text at 10 PM at night asking if he could come over to use our internet so he could Skype my sister. I told him sorry and that I was going to sleep and I found out the next day that they had actually gotten in a fight because “talking on the phone is not the same as Skype-ing” and he felt that they weren’t able to connect in the same way! It’s interesting to think that technology has hindered our ability to be flexible. It’s as if we’ve come to expect certain things from our technology and when it fails, we don’t know what to do! Just something interesting to think about!

Chapter 9

“As an ethnical frame of being in this world, it is not only natural to us, but also transparent and invisible.”

At the beginning of the chapter, Katz and Rhodes talk about whether or not it’s hypocritical to refers to their clients in a different way in internal or external communication. When I worked for Target as an assistant manager, they referred to their employees as “team members” and the customers as “guests.” Early on in the training process, I was actually corrected by an intern from corporate for using the incorrect terms. ha! My point is, Target used these terms internally and externally, which I appreciated for consistency, even if it did seem a little (okay, a LOT) like corporate fluff.

“…the virtual reality of media has become as real as, or more real to us than the tangible world” (p. 238). That’s a pretty bold statement that would be interesting to research. For me, I don’t think that’s the case at all. Granted, I don’t participate in too many forms of social networking and I’m far from being plugged in all the time (except for at work, when I stare at a computer screen for the majority of the day…blah!) and it would be interesting to know how many people do feel that way.

Katz and Rhodes talk about how the words and structure we use in email reveal our relationship with the person we’re sending the email to. For me, in the work place, this is very true. There are some co-workers I can write an email to in 10 seconds and not give it a second thought, while there are others, I have really think about how I structure sentences and word things, not to mention re-reading it over and over before I hit send, because of the nature of the subject and who it’s being sent to. Another factor that causes me to pause is the fact that emails are permanent to some degree, so what you type can be forwarded, printed and passed on, so if there’s something really sensitive, it’s sometimes best to pick up the phone or talk to someone face-to-face.

Posted on November 20, 2011, in Literacy, Workplace and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Stephanie,

    I like your Target example. I worked for Walmart for six years. Internally and externally we reffered to employees as associates. Customers were just customers though. I do not agree that “the virtual reality of media has become as real as, or more real to us than the tangible world.” Maybe for some that have lived their entire life with the virtual reality of media, but not for us that grew up without it and had to adapt to it.

  2. Stephanie—

    Your Skype story reminds me of when texting was just becoming popular. A lot of my friends wouldn’t give-in to texting because they thought it was stupid or whatever. Now, all of my friends text and I think it’s our most common form of communication. Just today, I’ve received texted messages from 9 different friends of mine. The best part is that I love text messaging because I don’t waste any of my time talking to my friends. I can answer a text message at work but I can’t always answer a telephone call because everyone can hear me talk but no one can hear me text.

    • Nate, I can totally relate. I’m all about texting instead of calling but unfortunately my best friend didn’t feel the same way. She wrote me a long email about how she felt “dispensable” because I didn’t call her and just instead texted her to make plans. Yikes.

  3. Hey Stephanie – You make a good point about “being plugged in all the time.” Even as somebody who is an internet nerd, I think that the assertion about virtual reality being “more real” isn’t really valid. At work, I spend my day solving other people’s problems, dealing with crabby people, answering the same questions over and over and over again, helping find lost things, gatekeeping for certain people, locating people to fix stuff that’s broken, and just making stuff happen. It’s draining – and very real.

    I use the internet for entertainment after having worked with people all day. If the internet were “more real” I think I would be more annoyed with it more of the time. As it is, it delivers as much information and entertainment as I like, when I want it and how I want it. I don’t have to interact with people if I don’t want to. I don’t have to negotiate, calm, solve or deal with anything more irritating than a slow-loading page.

    The internet provides escapism for me, (I like reading, too). Some people like to watch tv, some people go watch sports, some people work out, some people go hang at bars. Most people have a form of escapism that they prefer. A lot of people like me have chosen the internet.

    • Heidi, I think you made a great point that the internet can be a way to escape from the hustle and bustle of the work day. It seems like every other day we hear about how we’re so “plugged in” all the time that we’re losing our sense of what’s real and what’s not, but on the flip side, the internet can be a way to relax and, as you said, command it to function a certain way, which I appreciate. Of all the things you can’t control in your work day, your personal use of the internet is something you can.

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