During my courses in Communication Studies, we repeated the theme of many paradoxes of communication and media nowadays. I began to wonder about how 20 years later of the internet… (and here you can follow my train of thought):
We are more resourceful… but less productive.
We are often unconscious of what we do online. How many hours do we kill surfing funny sites and playing online games? Most of our friends on social networking sites are usually people we’ve met. We find out more about global catastrophes and issues, so we join Facebook groups, but how many of us get up and make an impact? Or even a $1 donation?
We experience more… but live less. aka Been there, but not really done that.
We know what the 7 Wonders of the World look like but we don’t even want to step out of our rooms. Teenagers get images of sex and alcohol binging before they are ready. Unrealistic expectations have solidified in their own rooms; it becomes life as they know it and want to live.
We connect more… but bond less.
The main topic discussed in lectures: global communication, yet greater isolation. Case study: the blackouts in North America a few years ago; families with their own screens in each, or even same, room. I’m talking about the TV’s, computers, phones, smart phones, portable game consoles occupied in one household, each creating an individual world of experience. That’s why parents and offspring have a greater difficulty of understanding each other nowadays.
Yet… even as I think about those paradoxes, I recall exceptions. Social networking sites/social media – Facebook, Twitter, blogs – have connected people to jobs and saved lives. Case study: Demi Moore’s tweet prevented a suicide, and all the fashion bloggers who landed design or journalism gigs. These are people who went against my pessimistic concept.
Ultimately, the digital world is just a duplicate version of the physical world. The same mores, values, preferences, habits, cultures, etc are reenacted. Those people who broke through have work to show. The rest (the majority of internet users) just don’t really know what to doing in the digital realm, or they intend to use it for entertainment, so it is reflected in what is popular.
BBC is making a documentary about the next greatest power: the Internet. It is a series called SuperPower, and as the last line in this post aptly put it – if we were to use this great superpower, what do we do with it? Those who have been constructive with this superpower will be productive. Those who have been leisure with this superpower have found great pleasure in the internet. (Just think: there was Encarta and now Wikipedia, online banking, and porn – they are just different types of information that have been made more conveniently accessible.) In the end, the internet doesn’t objectively suppress socialization or increase the number of jaded teens. The internet isn’t an magical potion that makes you grow or magical cake that shrinks you like Alice in Wonderland. It offers a bi-directional pull, and where it goes depends on which way you point it.
And guess where I’m going with this blog?