RE: Social Media Taking Over

Chapter two in Qualman’s book: Socialnomics was interesting to read because I related to much of the content being covered. Qualman suggests, “ Cameras document everything, and technologies like Facebook’s Mobile Upload and ‘tagging’ can disseminate a naked keg stand to your network faster than you can count to five.” I recently attended a birthday party for a relative, and my niece recorded the whole thing via her smart phone. I don’t think she ever actually watched the party through her own eyes—rather through her display screen. After the recording was finished, she was so excited to upload it to Facebook. I didn’t understand this—I asked myself: why can’t we just enjoy the moment anymore? I asked her why she recorded the party to put on Facebook, she didn’t have much of an answer.

This need to record and post everything is also true in other situations. Anytime I go out with my friends, someone is taking pictures and uploading them to Facebook, no longer does privacy exist. I am not sure if this is bad necessarily, but it is different. The notion of connecting with one’s children via social media rather than through oral conversation is also different. Qualman notes, “In many instances, social media can help bring families a little closer by enabling parents to unobtrusively follow their kids’ lives.’” Perhaps in some cases, but I can certainly see how this may backfire. More to the point however, if parents begin to rely solely on social media to communicate with their children—to find out about their day—what is lost as a result? To argue that passive communication is better than active is also interesting to consider.

One topic that I have not considered, addressed in chapter 3 is the notion that email may go extinct. I send many emails everyday, so the idea that in the not so distant future email will be obsolete is hard to fathom. However, I don’t doubt it. The rate at which technology now evolves is staggering. For instance, as Qulaman notes, even the way we date has changed due to technology. Qualman states:

First, people used to give out their home phone number. Then people began to give out their email address instead. At first it seemed odd to ask someone for a date over email, but then it became quite natural. Then we progressed to mobile phone numbers because some people didn’t have land lines anymore. Besides it was easier to message one another—it was less intrusive and awkward: ‘What are you doing tonight?’

To some extent I think it is appropriate to ask the tough questions in person, or over the phone, rather that take the passive approach—perhaps I am just a traditionalist. While text messaging and social media offer a means to gain knowledge about another person—it is only portrayed information. That is, what you see on Facebook may not be what you get in real-life. As such, in-person conversations may still be the most fruitful. Overall, chapter 2 and 3 in this book forced me to question my own decision regarding my use (or lack their of) of social media. Further, it provided a lot of good insight regarding why social media is so popular which is beneficial to someone like me who does not have a very good understanding of it due to never participating in it.

Posted on September 23, 2012, in Social Media, Society. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I think that maybe Qualman is glossing over a lot of the negative aspects to social media. Sure, maybe it could make it easier for families to stay more connected, but social media has given us a lot more people to be connected with and it hasn’t added a single minute to the day.

    So, while it’s great that I can stay connected with my college friends and former coworkers, that time usually comes from interacting with my immediate family. One night I was watching TV with my wife and eight-year-old son and he suddenly got really upset. Something funny had happened on the show and he looked over at my wife and I and we hadn’t laughed.

    Jack: “I want to watch TV with you guys!”
    Us: “We are watching TV together.”
    Jack: “No you’re not! Mom’s on her iPad and you’re using your phone.”

    He was totally right. We were so busted. While we were busy connecting with people we hardly ever see, we were disconnecting from the person that was most important to us both.

    I’m also with you on the need to recognize the moments that we are in and then maybe just be the person living them rather than the person documenting them.

  2. Paul–this is a really great post and I’m glad you highlight the difference between watching things through a display screen and your own eyes. Whenever I go to concerts I want to record the live moment since it’s rare to find those versions online, but then I stop myself so I can actually enjoy the music! I don’t know if the younger generations take the time to realize they can put the technology down…

    Per the email debate, I know I have undergrad students who tell me they never check their email. Also, instead of emailing me to ask a question they ask each other on Facebook. Needless to say, this is very frustrating, but as a social media user I do know I learn a lot from my Facebook friends and Twitter followers–all virtual strangers–and I can access information from them quicker than in an email conversation. I guess it will always depend on the job or classroom experience to set the standard method of communication for that time period. And that’s why we blog! 😛

  3. I am really enjoying the blog thus far! Compared to D2L, it is easier to read, and I appreciate the updates I receive via my UW-Stout email. Becase I have a limited perspective of social media–my view of it is somewhat negative. Using this blog seems to be allowing me to realize how such a forum promotes learning/sharing information. I think what is important then, as you note, is whether or not younger generations will be able, or desire to, find a balance between on-line time and in-person time. I have also been watching TV with people, such as a football game, and half the room is tuned into their iPad or smart phone updating their social media site or their fantasy football stats. While the game is watched by all, it is hard to have dialogue with someone who is only half tuned into the game and half tuned into their virtual world.

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I think the best thing is how we have an archive of these conversations rather than losing them at the end of the semester when D2L “closes” a course.

  4. I think we all have run-ins like these, but one in particular stands out for me… It was a Saturday and I had logged into Facebook for a quick browse before bed. A high-school classmate had added a status post something to the effect of: The wedding was wonderful. I am so happy to be sharing this day with my family and friends. It was HIS wedding. Whoa. The mental image of him stepping away from those loved ones, including his bride, to let the likes of me (distant acquaintance at best) know how the day was proceeding was so very sad! I try and keep that image fresh in my mind as a reminder to be engaged in life first, technology second. That said, I fail fairly frequently!

    I agree completely that younger generations will take less and less notice to this issue at all. They will have no memory of life-before-technology to use as a reference point. Possibly Siri can help explain it.

  5. Paul,
    I was just listening to public radio today and one of the commentators was talking about Facebook’s facial recognition software and the privacy concerns surrounding it.
    In parts of Europe, Facebook has agreed to stop its use of facial recognition software.
    Imagine, though, aiming your smartphone’s camera at a crowd of people and having it identify the people for you, because their images were stored in a database somewhere. Kind of creepy.

    • You won’t need to point your phone at the crowd. Your google glasses will just stick name tags on them and maybe even tell you their marital status and whether or not you have any friends in common or buy the same brand of yogurt.

    • Once I took a photography class and was taught that as soon as I take a picture of somebody who can be recognized on it, I have to get his/her consent to publish the photo. Putting photos up of others on Facebook is not publishing, right?

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