Are we Really Connected?

More and more social networking sites and the online world are becoming increasingly advanced and intense. For me I can remember when the Internet and connecting through social media became an integral part of my youth. In the early years of high school I remember rushing home to go on MSN and connect with my “friends”. Some people on my friends list were in my class or on my sports teams, but others were people from different schools or friends of friends who I never met personally. Though talking to people you have not met online possesses many dangers, it was nothing like it is today. Facebook, MySpace and twitter make MSN seem so juvenile now that I look back. The social networking sites we use today know more about us then our best friends or parents might, and what we do not realize is these sites hold hostage all of our information, pictures, and interactions. What is it about social networking that is so addicting and leaves people obsessing and unable to stay away? In Turkle’s article Looking Toward Cyberspace: Beyond Grounded Technology she believes that it is the freedom of being able to mold and shape your identity online however you want it, which gives one the liberty to say and write how they feel with little repercussions. Different online identities allow for us to invent and mold ourselves into someone we want to be, express ourselves on topics and say how we feel, things which we feel limited to in our everyday lives. Social networking affects people in various ways, and is now becoming a part of child and adolescent development, it changes how youth find and create their identities; what was once done through actual physical relationships is now done through cyberspace and the connections and interactions we have on Facebook. In Turkle’s article looking Toward Cyberspace she supports this notion by stating “it is fashionable to think that we have shifted from psycho-analytic culture to computer culture-that we no longer need to think in terms of Freudian slips but rather in information processing errors” (1999, p. 647). I find this to be completely true, especially in relation to understanding youth, if teachers or parents etc. are unfamiliar with the internet and social networking, they will fail to be connected and unable to understand what goes on with adolescents today, as identity and personality have taken on a whole new meaning.

In terms of my own personal social media use, I attempt to not to be consumed by it, and still believe in the importance of human contact. In Turkle’s article The Flight from Conversation (2012), she discusses this and how we have become accustomed to “being alone together” which I find to be completely true. We think we are all connected through our interactions on social media, but we have completely lost the importance of physical conversation. Also in Turkle’s Article Places we don’t want to go, she talks about encounters with adolescents and how they feel more comfortable turning to technology then they would with people in the physical world. Being so consumed with interacting over cyberspace has also allowed us to talk less intelligently to get our points across and quickly according to Turkle, and personally this scares me. If you think about how much we have evolved with technology already, I am worried to know how our communication skills are going to be in another 50 years. The fact that my social media activities are under constant surveillance definitely influences my online identity. My own personal rule for myself is that I do not post anything online or on social networking sites that I would not say in the physical world, my online identity is pretty accurate to my identity in real life. I find it important not to post personal and private information online, and think that people should consider what they really want people knowing about them, because once its thrown out there, its there forever.

Cyberspace and Identity Sherry Turkle Contemporary Sociology Vol. 28, No. 6 (Nov., 1999), pp. 643-648

Sherry Turkle. The Flight From Conversation. New York Times Sunday Review. April 21, 2012

Places we don’t want to go: Sherry Turkle at TED2012
http://blog.ted.com/2012/03/01/places-we-dont-want-to-go-sherry-turkle-at-ted2012/

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5 thoughts on “Are we Really Connected?

  1. Your blog just got me reminiscing to the good ‘ol MSN days! That used to be the best thing to do when we were bored. I understand and completely agree with what you said, how we would talk to people on MSN we have never personally met, yet it seems as if the new social media networks are much worse. On MSN, unless you were giving out personal information and had a picture of you (for the newer version), it almost seems like there was no harm in talking to people you didn’t know. However, talking to someone on Facebook you don’t know can be very dangerous because with technology advancing you can track down computers, and go into someones profile to see what they look like, what they do, who else they’re friends with, where they live and go to school, etc. Social networking can be so dangerous nowadays and youth need to learn to be more careful with what they put online. It also worries me about how communication will be 50 years from now, as you mentioned. With our language already becoming “slack” and “lazy”, I wonder what will happen in the future. I even find myself making sentences more simple and asking questions to others so that they only have to respond with a yes or no, making the conversation go faster. These days, with the new technology, it’s all about how fast responses are. Also, I agree with you saying you only write someone online that you would say in person so that your online identity is similar to your true identity. I do the same and I wish a lot more people would!

  2. I find it interesting that you said that the Internet and connecting through social media became an integral part of your youth. Cyberspace really has become a part of our society that we cannot live without. People have been so drawn to it that it has become a part of our everyday lives. I really agree with you that teachers and parents need to keep on top of new technology in order to stay connected with the youth of today. It is part of who they are and has changed the way they communicate and act in society. It is hard to keep their attention for any long period of time. Their phones are beeping with messages when you are trying to engage in meaningful communication. Our world has so many distractions today that make it really difficult to have any real long conversation. This is only the beginning and we will have to live with this new technology and see what changes the future has for our society.

  3. For me I can remember when the Internet and connecting through social media became an integral part of my youth. In the early years of high school I remember rushing home to go on MSN and connect with my “friends”. I thoroughly enjoyed this statement, as I was the exact same. It was also a status symbol, “how many friends do you have on MSN?” I really enjoyed your blog and your own personal opinions and beliefs about social media “In terms of my own personal social media use, I attempt to not to be consumed by it, and still believe in the importance of human contact.” I am the very same way and i look forward to meeting new people in person every day. A friend request cant and should never replace the effort it actually takes to meet someone in my opinion.

  4. I remember the MSN days, staying up until late in the night chatting to friends over the computer. I felt back that if I didn’t have MSN, I would be far from contact from my friends, seeing as back then I did not have a cell phone. Hangouts were planned through MSN exclusively and our social lives seemed to be dependent on that. Now, as you said, social networking sites allow us to “mold” an identity that we have always wanted to achieve. I never understood that idea. I am myself online and I wonder why anyone would want to be someone different. If you are striving to build an identity, why not do it in the real world? Create goals for yourself, have an idea of what you need to improve to find your inner self. Social networking is not going to help that fact.

  5. Great comparison with MSN as a social media platform to Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. It feels like so long ago since I used MSN and honestly completely forgot about it since I no longer use it. I think everyone who had access to a computer at home found themselves on MSN almost each and every night because it was the cool thing to do as the youth at that time. We used MSN to help each other with homework, talk about the events that happened at school that day and talk to friends from other schools so we could be the first to know what happened at their schools. I would say that MSN back then was basically a substitute for the cell phone now days since it was not so common for everyone to have a cell phone at that time/ age like it may be now. Also I like your point about how our communication skills are going to be in another 50 years, which is pretty crazy to think about in terms of what technology might be like then. Anyway great post and very creative/ interesting picture.

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