Author: Arianna

Digital Ethics Symposium

Growing up in a very rural part of Michigan, I saw Amish people and buggies very frequently. I have always been fascinated by Amish culture and was interested to listen to Lindsay Ems’ speech, “Approached to Amish Technology Use: The Body as an Optional, Ideal Communication Medium.”

Prior to Ems’ speech, I was unaware that Amish used any type of modern technology or new media at all. I didn’t even know that Amish used electricity. Ems acknowledged that the Amish culture uses technology, however, they use it very differently than our society does. She explained that they use cell phones, however, they moderate their cellphone usage. Cell phones don’t define their way of life, unlike our culture’s dependency on pocket computers and media.

Ems’ study showed that Amish value face-to-face interaction the most. In the Amish culture, there is a stronger sense of community. So many people are so invested in new media that they don’t look up from their phones to communicate with others or have simple face-to-face conversations. The Amish really do enjoy the simpler things in life that have more value than technology, so it’s no wonder that Amish population is growing.

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Insta-Topia

There is nothing I find more complicated than picking the right filter for an Instagram photo. I, along with many of my peers, find this decision to be a lot more difficult than necessary. In the grand scheme of things, it seems very frivolous to spend 5 minutes debating between Walden and Lo-Fi, however, it has become a large part of our social media culture.

In a way, Instagram is a great resource to quickly and easily connect with others. Most celebrities, stores, companies, etc. have Instagram accounts, which makes it an effortless line of communication. Users enjoy scrolling through their feeds and seeing what others post. While I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it, I follow most of the Kardshian clan on Instagram and I love that I get a glimpse into their worlds every time they post a photo.

Although this is one of the benefits of Instagram, many users become obsessed with how their online presence is perceived. Oftentimes, Instagram-ers feel a certain level of gratification when they reach X number of likes or when they get a few new followers. In my own friend group, for example, we always tell one another to “like” our pictures and consult one another when finding the right captions. Although that seems like a shallow thing to do, it is not uncommon among my generation, because naturally, most people care at least a tiny bit about what others think of them.

Relating to the readings, I definitely see how Instagram has altered what is valued in American culture. People have started using Instagram likes and followers to gauge their self-worth, which can be very destructive. So, although Instagram is a utopia in that it’s an easy way to connect with others, it’s also very much a dystopia because it makes people so reliant on and obsessed with Instagram posts instead of the real world.

Tweet Tweet

Since joining Twitter in 2011, I’ve tweeted almost 6,000 times. Usually, my tweets consist of silly pictures, random thoughts, and the occasional horoscope retweet – never anything important or serious. For example…
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It’s obvious that I don’t put much thought into my tweets and creating a “thick tweet” had never even crossed my mind. While writing my thick tweets, it was a struggle to fit the entirety of my message into only 140 characters. It was also difficult to find the RIGHT content to post. I wanted something that represented who I am, but also something that my followers would be interested in. For my first tweet, I posted a link to a quirky article about Mondays.
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Today being Monday, I figured the content would be relevant and the title would be enough to make my followers want to click the link. My second tweet was a link to a blog post and playlist. Again, I felt that it caught the reader’s attention with it’s play on words.
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In both of my thick tweets, the content was very accessible through the links. In today’s culture of constant media consumption, I like that information is so easy to attain information. Contrary to what Carr argues, I think it’s good that we have so much content at our fingertips. Instead of making us dumber, Twitter opens new realms of communication. It gives the user the opportunity to share bite size thoughts quickly and efficiently. Dibbell argues that Twitter is a more productive mode of communication, which I and probably most of my generation would agree to be true. As she points out, Twitter is a multi-faceted network that can be used to market oneself, connect with friends, stay updated with family, etc.

MySpace and New Media

I still remember the Christmas morning that my parents took me and my brother into our home office to see a massive desktop computer. Although waiting on dial up was a hassle, I thought that having the internet at my fingertips was the coolest thing ever. I cherished my time spent chatting with my friends on Instant Messenger and posting bulletins on my MySpace page. It was the first site that I had that connected me to all of my friends. Today, most people’s first encounter with media is at a very young age. Even children carry around iPhones and iPads, which is a drastic change from when I was growing up.
In my opinion, the most important advancement in new media is the creation of newer, better social networks. Sites like Facebook and Twitter allow people to connect solely through a computer screen and have become integral parts of American culture. We are constantly checking our phones and social networks, which allows us to stay updated on what’s happening with friends and throughout the world. For me, it’s almost compulsive to check my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds throughout the day, which is a drastic change from when I was younger.