“Digital Nativism, Digital Delusions, and Digital Deprivation”

Jamie Mackenzie’s titled article “Digital Nativism, Digital Delusions, and Digital Deprivation,” explores Marc Prensky’s work and the lack of evidence to support his claims. Marc Prensky establishes many contradictions to his arguments and even degradingly labels pre-iPod humans as “digital immigrants” and the young generation as “young digital natives.” Mackenzie notes in the beginning that those who try to inform society about the digital surge lack substantial evidence to support their claims, expressing that “ they are guilty of arcade scholarship-analysis that is superficial and cartoonish.” Mackenzie then breaks down each of Pensky’s claims and deciphers each one. In regard to the following claims, they are discontinuity, brain change, Generation M, insult after insult, and video games. First, discontinuity mentions how students have changed their style and language. Second, brain change and Generation M are one in the same statements regarding the way education and cognitive functions have differed. Thirdly, insult after insult argues that “digital immigrants” as quoted “think learning can’t (or shouldn’t) be fun. Why should the – they didn’t spend their formative years learning with Sesame Street.” Lastly, the video games stance reflects the never- ending concerns about the effects of violent video games.

It’s interesting how the author terminates all of Pensky ‘s external validity. Individuals like Pensky, who are unaware of the digital world, are quick to judge its irrelevance and lack of connection in reality. Which then leaves them to shun the young generation into believing they are unable to form real relationships offline, nor have any social interaction skills. Being a very debatable topic regarding the difference of generations in the era of technology, one aspect is for certain that there are both pro’s and con’s to each age. Many fail to realize this, thus continuing a generational divide rather than a generational comradery.

“Facebook Isn’t Making Us Lonely”

In contrast to Marche’s piece, Eric Klinenberg’s work “Facebook Isn’t Making Us Lonely” describes how Social media isn’t actually making us lonely, it’s the strain we put on ourselves that makes us feel alone and isolated. He pulls examples from Marche’s article and rechecks his facts on the matter. He insists that Marche is unaware and uses research that is not accredited to explain recent times in comparison to the technology use of the past. The research of Marche was highlighting the golden age of a lost era and why our society cannot get back to how it was; however Klinenberg explains relationships have always been the same throughout time. The development of technology such as the car and phone as Klinenberg’s described, did not make neighbors not “knock on the door anymore,” it simply made it easier to call, then drive over, and then knock.

Furthermore, he explains the notion that those who do research on loneliness do not expect or believe that social relationships online make up for the real thing. The author comments on how loneliness should be measured by our frayed ties rather than loneliness; insisting “what distinguishes Americans is not that we are more isolated, but that we spend more time and energy worrying about whether we are.” Klinenberg has many great arguments against the thesis “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” although I gather a fault in the article, which he analyzes the piece at one fault. He never mentions how social media is making our relationships tatter, but solely asserts that relationships throughout history have always experience it. He fails to compare notion of relationships with the multitude of social media platforms, along with the perceptions and attitudes of individuals connected to their social contracts.

“Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?”

Stephen Marche’s article “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” investigates how social media, specifically Facebook, is causing an outbreak of society feeling more lonely and isolated than ever before. Especially considering the era of a digital age that is suppose to make society be more connected than disconnected. However, it is questioned furthermore if it’s actually making us feel lonely, or as a society we are choosing to be alone. Social media has allowed us to engage more efficiently and faster, by paying no mind at the cost to do so. For instance, the 800 miles of fiber-optic cable laid between the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange, was valued at $300 million, to purely shave off three milliseconds of trading times.

Although the digital world allows individuals to communicate at a broad spectrum, it should be questioned whether or not the kindred is still the same as in the past? Likewise is the individual still representing themselves as their true nature or undertaking a new persona? In relation to the article, the pursuit of happiness in the digital life has people trying to fulfill their void of happiness and self-concept by continuing a constant appearance online. Jaron Lanier, one of the inventors of virtual reality technology states, “ I fear that we are beginning to design ourselves to suit a digital models of us, and I worry about a leaching of empathy and humanity in that process.” Subsequently at times, people will pay whatever cost to not be alone, thus causing a possibility to effect their manner and behavior. Individuals may present a “Face Work” mask to hide their true self or present a persona that is in favor to others. Self-expression and personal authenticity in the social media age is rare and unforgiving. Examinations are thus done to view the interconnectedness of social interactions of those we choose to share information with, and those that are perceived as real friends.

The only critique I have about the information presented is the data regarding the American household percentiles that have presumably fluctuated due to human loneliness. The article indicates that in 1950 there were less than 10 percent of households with only one person, verses in 2010 nearly 27 percent have only one person. It’s quite unfair to compare loneliness to households due to the author not considering all the external factors as to why the increase has occurred. There were no mentions that household rent is much more expansive than before in the 1950’s nor the fact that the millennial generation are not having as many children due to financial constraints. In addition, it’s easier to afford one individual, individually, considering all other expanses one has to afford.

“Future of Reputation” and “Twitter and Tear Gas”

In “The Future of Reputation,” discusses the issue revolving around gossip, rumors, and privacy on the Internet. The author introduces the story about the women on the train who will forever be famously known as the “poop girl.” In South Korea a women on the subway train had her dog with her and went it used the bathroom on the train, she refused to pick it up telling others to mind their own business. Those who were on the train were outraged and took pictures of her and posted them on a popular Korean blog. Instantly, individuals who saw the blog ran with posters of the women’s photograph with multiple other ones, as well as mainstream media and news picking up the story. Not only did her story become popular in Korea, but also around the world. The women’s name and controversial story as the “poop girl” was dragged in many news and media outlets. When considering this story, the author questions about the privacy, norms, and life in this Information Age. Images can easily be captured and posted on the Internet for the world to see with a click of a mouse or a send of a button on your phone. Secrets can easily be shared about your life from yourself, family, friends, acquaintances, enemies, or even by people you don’t know. Although the Internet can be freeing, it can also lead to terrifying implications. According to the writer, he states that “ the future of the Internet involves not only the clash between freedom and control but also a struggle within the heart of freedom itself;” meaning that people have the freedom to share what they wish, however that information can hinder one’s opportunities in the future. Whether or not they wished to have that information shared or not, still puts a mark on the individual’s reputation. In addition, the norm police of the Internet are power-enforcing tools that track down individuals who violate the social norms of society. In the case of the “poop girl,” she violated a major social norm by not cleaning up her dog’s mess, which resulted in the huge amount of black lash online. Social norms are dynamic influential’s that control human construct of right and wrong. Hence, if you are shown in public defying a social norm, it is free range for anyone to capture the moment and post it online. Similarly, that moment can cause great destruction to your reputation and that private moment can be permanent baggage.

The next following work titled “ Twitter and Tear Gas,” illustrates how Tahrir activists in Cairo, Egypt were able to conduct live interviews international media outlets, and use twitter over contraband internet connections to voice their messages. After Egyptian police had beaten a young man to death, the Tahrir activists started their revolution to overthrow their leader Murbarak. To gain protestors, Facebook e-vites were sent out to join the revolution by just clicking “I’m attending,” as well as Twitter incorporated images of young activist displaying their messages. Simultaneously, Mubarak took notice of the occurrences happening online and had the Internet disconnected. That way activist could not promote their movement across the world nor could members rally together. However even with this stunt of no Internet, the activists were creative to access Twitter through the blockade by using cell phones over contraband Internet connections. Hence, Mubarak was forced to resign quickly after protestors regained entry to the Internet. This story is notable in how a movement was shaped through the uses of Digital communication that allowed the needed attention to overthrow a ruler.

“Love Online” and The “StolenSidekick”

“Love Online” assembles a father discovering the era of virtual relationships by witnessing his son form a relationship online. He highlights how the two used communication platforms to assist their relationship even though they are unable to enjoy the physical intimacy of each other’s company due to the distance between Nebraska and Massachusetts. Even more so he details how although the two use every social channel possible to converse, they as well share conversations over the phone and mail one another personal items or gifts. The author distinguishes how romantic relationships online can seem transient or transparent yet the communication effect still has to be crafted carefully. In the same manner as one would court a person of interest by writing hand-written letters. New technology enables a new kind of group formation by means of creating a link to building relationships outside of our own communities and reaching out to people miles or even oceans away from us. It provides a gateway for online relationships to bud and flourish without the convenience of having physical contact. Some may say that online relationships are revolutionary, however the author suggest otherwise explaining that “ focusing on the revolutionary aspects of online courtship blinds us to the continuities in courtship rituals across generations and across media…..moreover, focusing on the online aspects of these relationships blinds us to the agility with which teens move back and forth across media. Their daily lives require constant decisions about what to say on the phone, what to write by hand, what to communicate in chat rooms, what to send by email” (Jenkins, 2002). Thus, new communication technology not only assist maintaining virtual relationships but it is also leading to even more communication availability all at once.

Furthermore, the article “ It Takes A Village To Find a Phone,” revolves around one man named Evan using his personal website to voice the story of his friend’s missing sidekick. The story was known as “StolenSidekick,” which tells the situation of his friend loosing her phone and actually finding the person who took it but refused to deliver it back to her. The refusal followed into a finder’s keeper momentum, but took a turn for the worse when the individual who had the phone insulted Evan and his friend with racial and threatening messages. The “StolenSidekick” website overall had gained millions of followers, along with local and national media attention. This article displays a new kind of group-formation through the enabling of any individual able to use communication platforms free of charged to voice their narrative. Messages online can easily be marketed, promoted, and shared with little to no effort. The only sacrifice is time and attention to representing and updating the messages to keep readers interested. Not only does one have to keep readers interested, but also the story needs to make readers feel that it’s relatable enough. Evan was wise as to note that the missing sidekick story was not for his personal gain but solely for justice, which struck a huge nerve for his readers. Platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Blogging have created a free pass for users to share their messages and have it be followed, liked, or commented on. It has even allowed users to make it a full time job working from home and getting paid for it. Take for instance famous celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, he started his brand blogging from home and it reached a wide range of audiences at local and national levels. His blog became so popular that his brand developed from working at home into a blooming business, which later led him to becoming a television personality. This example just indicates how strong communication technology platforms have given the free ability to users to do with it as they please, at no cost but their time.

In regards to Clay Shirkys reference to Tim O’Reilly’s concept of “ architecture if participation,” a communication tool is simply not useful if there is no participation. The platform has to be designed to inspire and encourage presence, and if not then it is useless. In this case, online dating sites have expanded across all platforms and architectural designs to form communities and groups where people can meet. Online dating websites range from a broad spectrum of Tinder, Bumble, ChristianMingle.com, eHarmony, BlackPeopleMeet.com, and so forth. There only needs to be one blueprint of a communication technology that has the right form of participation that can amplify in the development and adaptation to other alternatives of specialties. Likewise with Evan’s story about his friend’s sidekick, if there was no participation from his readers liking, sharing, and commenting then it would not have gained as much attention as it did. Evan created a narrative that allowed his readers to engage in and also gave them their own bulletin board to talk to one another than just him. If one is going to display a message online as Evan did, the person needs to consider all the participation levels for the readers on the platform. Failure to do so will result in a dead message.

The quote “when we change the way we communicate, we change society” refers to the level of formation that communication technology has developed to evolve communication in society. In the manner of “Love Online,” to maintain relationships began with mailing hand-written letters, to phone calls, to cell phones, and now to virtual relationship applications. Similarly, to the “StolenSidekick” the changes of websites began as a printing press, typewriter, newspaper, dial-up Internet, and now the worldwide web that offers many media platforms to connect users and readers. The thought with communication is always asking the question how to develop and change it further for society; as well as what does society need to communicate more efficiently and at a higher quality that all individuals can advantage by? When considering what motivates people to share information online, there could be many reasons but one that I personally see occurring is that no one wants to feel alone or disconnected from society. Humans cannot be alone, and the worse form of punishment for anyone is to be locked away in solitary confinement. Hence, the over-ending sharing and messages continue to display on media due to the fact that there is a chance someone will see it and find it relatable. Trust is another factor to consider especially with online dating is “catfishing,” meaning a stolen or fake identity. One has to make sure that if they are using online dating sites to be careful and mindful of these actions and take precautions. Communication gives free access and use, but there is no condition to be honest and truthful. Lastly, the important lessons I have learned from these two articles is how communication technologies are ever changing and its important as a communication scholar to observe and investigate these changes, to not only understand how it effects society but also how it effects myself.