Is our digital culture a positive or a negative?

Our culture really has become a digital one.  Some of the reading this week reminded me of Turkle’s reading.  People do value human connections, but are electronics really satisfying that need?  It seems we feel valued when we’re a part of a community, but how is that really fulfilling our need to connect with each other?


I remember before this digital culture having to look in the newspaper to try to find a job to apply to instead of going on or LinkedIn.  I do think that LinkedIn can be a great tool to find a job.  The recommendations on LinkedIn are very helpful to a potential employer.  You have to be careful what you post on LinkedIn, even if your profile is private you might be connected with your current boss.  It’s important to take advantage of the confidentiality tools LinkedIn offers, as well as be smart about what you post.

I agree with this article that states either you use LinkedIn right, meaning you have a full profile and are active in groups, or you don’t use it at all.  Just having a LinkedIn and not using it doesn’t help you.

As part of the digital culture comes the Glass House generation.  I thought this name was interesting considering it’s very true.  It’s very easy to find information about people with online profiles.  A coworker of mine told me that the restriction for 13 – 17 year olds to keep their profile private has been lifted this week.  I can’t say that I agree with this.  I think if they can choose to post publicly that can open them up for danger of strangers knowing where they’re going.  But maybe it’s a good thing and can help cut down things like underage drinking because they’ll be more visibility to them.

Apps like the Find My Friends app also provides more visibility into where people are.  Two friends of mine are engaged and they use this app to check up on where each other is.  I remember one day one of my friends told me she was at the doctor and her fiancé seemed to be gambling at a casino and went without telling her he was going.  It seems like these apps are set up for people with trust issues.  I remember growing up when my dad wasn’t home from work at the “normal time” we just looked out  the window and waited.  We couldn’t call his cell phone to ask where he was and when he’d be home.


I liked the part of the reading that covered the way search engines make money.  As I’ve said before, I worked for an order management software that hosted websites.  Clients asked us all the time about how to get their site higher in search engines and would pay us to do special work on their site to increase their rankings.  The software also allowed people to use what we called source codes.  This would allow a user to create different codes for the different places they advertise to see what the most productive ads are.  For example, if they have an ad on Google, they can enter the URL of the ad and assign a code to it.  Whenever a shopper would come to their site from that URL, that code would be placed on their profile.  Reports could be run to see how many of those clicks resulted in orders, and what the order size was.

The types of tracking and information we can uncover can have some positives, such as businesses knowing where to put more of their advertising dollars.  But we need to be aware of the negatives, like keeping children safe as well.  I guess we’ll see where some of these changes get us in the near future.

Posted on November 3, 2013, in mobile, Social Media, Society, Trust, Workplace. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. It looks like this will be the week where I learn about what LinkedIn really is, and why it might be a good idea to actually sign up for it.

    I think a lot of the social network sites allow for easy and convenient communication, but it tends to be more hollow communication. They keep adding more tools to bring people together, but most of these ways are not for me.
    I don’t like the idea of “checking in” on Facebook so that people know where I am, and I would definitely never download an app showed friends my location. I used to use an app called Shadow Cities (recently taken offline by the developers) which was a location based MMO for the iPhone. I reconciled the location based game because I knew that that no one physically near me played the game. I would’ve felt much more vulnerable if I would’ve had actual neighbors playing the game that I didn’t know. It seems I was comfortable with strangers knowing my relative location as long as they were 100’s of miles away from me.

    • I see your point about how social networking sites provide hollow communication. It’s very true that the interaction on sites like Facebook isn’t extremely genuine. I think LinkedIn is different being the workplace is a different kind of atmosphere. Employers judge you on your resume to see if they want to call you in for an interview, so why not give them a little more content about you to make their decision?

      I don’t like the idea of “checking in” on Facebook either. I do have, and sometimes use, the Foursquare app. Only my friends can see my check ins, but it’s still not a very secure thing to be doing. If you’re on vacation and check in, people know you’re not home. These apps can definitely lead to very negative places.

  2. Thank you for sharing your great ideas! A point you seem to be making is that technology is too invasive in our daily lives — a point with which I agree. I have an example similar to your friend who is engaged. Recently, my stepmother asked me to download an app called Life360. The app allows you to see a map of where all of your family members are located, or at least the ones have also downloaded the app. At first, I was hesitant to download the app and begin using it. I did not want anyone to be able to see where I was at any given time. However, my stepmother does not really care where I am; she is the using the app as a safety method. Although I am still not one hundred percent sold on using the app, I downloaded it because I live 1,200 miles away from my family.

    • I really do hit the point that technology is too invasive in our lives often. I make this point at work as well. My boss said to me just yesterday that she’s starting to not start new tasks at 5:00PM. She’s realizing that if you get out of work at a reasonable hour you can go home, have dinner, do chores and have your weekends free to relax or do things. It’s amazing everything we miss out on “being so busy”. Plus, it’s not healthy for us to always be working or on-the-go. The body needs down time.

      I think I can see your point about using those apps for safety. Being so far from family really can create a concern that you’re ok, not just wanting to spy on you to see what you’re doing.

      • I’ve noticed since getting my new iphone, on which I didn’t set up any notifications, that my time is much more my own! I’m not distracted by banners or dings. I also remember when I first turned off the email notification sound a couple years ago. It was so liberating!

        I’ve got an email policy about returning messages within 24 hours [or is it 48?], but I feel the need to answer them sooner than later, which I’ll admit has led to me giving simpler answers or shorter responses when more detail would probably be preferred. This semester I’ve noticed my freshman seem to all email me after 430pm on weekdays or after 6pm on Sundays. I’m guessing that’s when they are starting their homework, but I’ve been considering a “no responses after 5PM” rule because by that time of day I’m either at the gym or exhausted. And I see them in the classroom twice a week, where I prefer to discuss their work!

  3. evelynmartens13

    Glass House generation for sure! I so would not use an app like the one you describe — that seems kinda creepy to me. It seems so odd to me that people have to be soooo connected all the time. I don’t know if it’s nurture or nature, but I just don’t seem to have the “connectivity” gene, which often puts me way on the outside trying to peer inside and understand this.

    I read your Linked In article with interest. At first I couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t identify him/herself, but I think I get it now.

    I read what I just wrote and it occurs to me that I probably always seem so negative about technology or SM, but I don’t really feel that way. I just worry about the lack of privacy and lack of boundaries sometimess.

    • I think the lack of privacy and boundaries really are concerns and that doesn’t mean you hate technology. Similar to what Turkle was saying, technology can be a great help and have a positive influence, but the way some of us use it is negative.

      Even something like LinkedIn can be a concern for privacy. You’re giving the public access to where you work, somewhere people know you’ll be every day.

  4. I’ve looked at the Find my Friends App, but I don’t want to be that connected to my friends. I have used the Find my iPhone app when my husband was away on business to make it easier to show our daughter where he was. I have only used it once or twice to find him when he wouldn’t answer the phone. the question of availability seems to be different for my husband than for others.

    • I think those apps exist for things like your situation or for a parent trying to find their child. There can be some real benefits to these apps but there is certainly a creepy factor to it.

  5. Wow that Find my Friends app is creepy! I will check in on FB from time to time, usually when I’m traveling and somewhere much more exotic than Menomonie, WI [:P] but I’m not interested in 4Square or other location services.
    I’m glad you’re seeing connections between this reading and the Turkle. Once you’ve realized these technology habits in yourself and others, it’s hard not to notice them!

    • I agree that I will check in on FB when I’m doing something more fun than the normal errands. Who really cares that I’m at the grocery store and why do I feel the need to tell them?

      I definitely see the point once you realize these habits it’s really hard not to notice them. I took a few classes in my undergrad education that broke down movies and I haven’t been able to watch them the same since!

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