A reality without internet? For sure less news and maybe a class reunion

From: https://medium.com/international-online-journalism/the-impact-of-digital-technologies-on-the-gathering-production-and-dissemination-of-news-7b22142af26e

In her 2016 textbook, “Superconnected: The Internet, Digital Media, and Techno-Social Life,”, Mary Chayko posed the question to readers, “how would your life be different if technology available today were not?”  I am going to explore that hypothetical as best I can.

One of the more prolific opportunities the internet provides me is instant access to news worldwide.  Daily I spend at least 90 minutes reading news from a variety of sources.  CBS News is my go-to, although this tendency is slowly transitioning to Reuters.  I then move on and scan various newspapers.  I first check my local ones, the Winona Daily News and the La Crosse Tribune.  Then the nearby metro newspapers: the Wisconsin State Journal, the Journal Sentinel and the Pioneer Press.  Most of the time, since the Winona, La Crosse and Madison newspapers are all the same publisher, checking just one allows me to see major pieces from all three.  Then some days I check the Duluth News Tribune or The Seattle Times or the Appleton Post Crescent.  I do the same type of journey with local television news.  Lately, WGN has caught my attention.  I find them interesting since they are somewhat of an anomaly not being associated with the big four: CBS, ABC, NBC or FOX.

If the internet did not supply me with my variety of news options, my interest in news may not exist.  If it still did, it would be very difficult for me to cover as many news options.  For one, it would be impossible to access local news outside of my region.  WGN is a nationally-syndicated network, so I would be able to watch their news, but WISN out of Milwaukee (a four hour drive away) would be inaccessible.  So would KOMO News out of Seattle.  With print news, I would have to have subscriptions and my mailbox would be filled every morning.

My high school class and I are an example Chayko could’ve used when discussing her own 2014 research.  In it she determined the use of internet, digital, and mobile technologies makes face-to-face interaction more likely to occur rather than deter.  Additionally, those who use the internet and digital media most often are those who stay in closest contact with their friends face-to-face.  My high school class of 2001 used Facebook in order to reconnect and plan our class reunions. Thanks to it, approximately 32 out of 39 of us were able to connect (I had to quickly go into the Facebook group and count the members).  Still using Facebook, we were able to discuss gathering options, location options, contingencies and the like.  We are even able to pay one another through Facebook for party costs.  Despite our small size, Jessica in England is able to remain an active class president.  Mark in Maryland stayed connected and also returned to Wisconsin for our reunions.  We were even able to get Evan, Katie and Nick, to attend.  All three were longtime classmates but left our high school and graduated elsewhere, and Facebook allowed us to connect.

Were it not for Facebook, our class reunions and irregular communication would be much more difficult.  Jessica would be spending considerably more money on postage and I can’t even imagine how you might track people down without the internet.  Perhaps send letters to classmates’ parents and ask for their mailing information?  Discussing options for a party, such as a location and activities, would be daunting and take a considerable amount of time.

Posted on October 4, 2020, in Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I enjoy how you used this question as the basis for your post, as I similarly (but somewhat indirectly) answered the same question. While some may think that technology is “ruining our brains”, I really do think that to an extent it has the ability to provide us with information and experiences that we might otherwise not have known. Had it not been for Facebook you may not have had the opportunity to connect with classmates, or without the internet and television you may not be able to dive as deep into worldwide news. Or, like you mentioned, be interested in reading the news at all. I think that having that access that technology provides is important as it helps us form opinions, learn new information, and connect with others. In my post I write about how older generations sometimes criticize younger generations and their “reliance” on Google. Without that access to information at user’s fingertips, however, many questions would remain unanswered and connections between generations and interests would remain unmade.

  2. Hi Jason,
    As you discuss, if the technology of today was not available, you would not have such interest in the news. Would you have as much interest in staying connected to your prior classmates if it weren’t for Facebook?
    The convenience of technology allows us to invest our time into things that may otherwise seem too great a commitment. There is merit in what you wrote from the validation and freedom technology provides us regarding our time. Instead of spending time, energy, and money locating your classmates, you can use this time to plan your reunion. This example can translate to much of what we do on a daily basis. Technology, then, both gives time and takes time. Collaborating with your former classmates who are conveniently on Facebook ultimately gives time. Exploring endless news sources takes time.
    I tend to use a lot of apps – they add so much convenience to my day. From checking the weather to digging through news stories, my apps get a daily workout. However, my apps can also become a rabbit hole. I spend too much time in the evenings on Reddit. I check the weather too much and dig down into hourly shifts. Why? Literally, because I can. I sit in a climate-controlled office all day long. It doesn’t matter if it’s -15 or 95 degrees outside, my world is always 68 degrees. Another time-suck apps have offered me is that anyone can find me at any time. I can be messaged on Teams, Snapped, DMed, texted, pinged, or called – there are many more. People who I haven’t seen in years can find me and strike up a conversation. On a personal level, this annoys me. Professionally, I actually love that people can get ahold of me in the moment versus trying to explain something after the fact. It annoys me personally because most days, I don’t have time to engage with the people I actually want to. But now suddenly anyone from anywhere in the timeline of my life can find me. So when Chayko poses the question on our lives changing by the absence of technology, I think I would both lose and gain time. I would lose my job in technology – so that’s an issue. But what I would gain are slow evenings, long phone calls, time at a library, anticipation for going to the theatre, and discovery. Think of anything, type it into Google and there’s a Wikipedia, images, videos, and endless links. Quick results offer us all the time in the world but the hunt is gone. Although you would have to dig for news, in some ways, it might be kind of thrilling.

  3. Kim Smith mccroryk0613

    Hi Jason,

    My mom is THE PERSON for her high school reunion parties. The one upcoming is their 50th, which is obviously a really big deal. While many of them are on FB, she, and probably several dozen others, aren’t. Their committee meets for months before the event, in person, to iron out the details. I cannot imagine doing all that analog work – I’d definitely use Facebook! But they’re a different generation, doing what they know.

    Thinking about your news and Emily’s weather – I remember when I was younger there were 2 phone numbers you could call in Oshkosh: one would give you the temperature, date, and time, and the other would give you a more detailed weather forecast. The newspaper was 5 times the size it is now. I had an encyclopedia collection that could sink a ship. I can’t imagine going back to all that bulk. The convenience of apps and Siri and Alexa are things I do not wish to give up. I also admittedly love to see current pictures of people I knew growing up on social media. How many would I pass, unrecognized, if it weren’t for FB?

  4. jackiecummings

    I really like the idea of using this question as a blogging jumping-off point. I honestly cannot imagine my life without the internet because the internet is how I learned about the career I wanted to go into, the college I attended, and to an extent the politics I have now. I had a minor interest and psychology and knew the local university had a program for it so would I have stayed in my hometown and become a counselor? Would I have learned to drive earlier (I’m terrified of driving and got my license at 21 but still rarely drive, luckily my partner does most of the driving) just to have easier access to the library? I’ve had internet access since I was little over 10, so it’s really hard imagining what kind of person I’d grow into without it. I probably would have stayed in firmly in the closet until college, because people around me just didn’t talk about gay people outside of jokes and jabs.

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