June 20, 2015
Module 6 LDP: Isolation and Addiction
Question #1: Given what we’ve learned today about social theories of mass communication, how do you perceive the media? Social? Isolationist? Offer debate points for and against the idea of socialization as well as the idea of isolation in regards to social media use. Support each position with points from the lecture and your own experiences, particularly in the case of media in the digital world.
Question #2: Horvath offers the key characteristics of addiction to television and how those characteristics can be seen in the life of the individual. Choose 1-2 characteristics, apply them to a digital media setting, and explain why you agree or disagree with that component (i.e. whether or not social media cause displacement.)
After this week’s lecture, I tend to perceive the media as trying to create a social, interactive community, but somehow becoming unidirectional a majority of the time, and thereby leaves its users more in isolation than desired or intended.
I think of the television program that incorporates a hashtag into their programming, which may be included in a few thousand tweets or posts. However, millions of users may have watched that program air live. Has it really created any type of social behavior, or were those users already engaged in other channels and simply activating the specific term.
Facebook, as a channel, seems to be creating an overall social environment, but with computer programming running in the background, how curated is the content and thereby filtering or affecting the dialogue? I have two great friends who walked away from Facebook nearly two years ago. Since then, it’s become increasingly hard to stay in touch and we only live 30 minutes away from each other. I have to assume they haven’t seen my posts, and therefore text/email them any updates. Additionally, I have no idea when they’re out-of-town until I reach out, or how their toddler son is doing. It’s a strange dynamic of isolation given our ever-growing connected world. And no, they didn’t leave Facebook like leaving a party.
For the one to two characteristics from Horvath, I’ve selected withdrawal and attempts to quit, as I’ve personally witnessed both in friends and colleagues.
In withdrawal several years ago a friend of mine lost her job and found herself nearly homeless. However, she could always be found on Facebook, usually sharing other articles that exemplified her personal beliefs. It was both interesting, frustrating, and concerning for us as her friends, as she’d keep herself locked away in a bedroom, using the neighbor’s Wi-Fi, wouldn’t go out or interact with anyone, and would only communicate (or rant about life’s injustices) on Facebook, but not actually engage with her friends.
On the other end of the spectrum, I have a former colleague whom I’ve known for 10 years who recognizes, usually once a year, that he spends far too much time on Facebook and announces to all his friends that he’s “taking the month off.” For many of us, it’s a shame because his posts are really well written and always make us think. However, he sees it as a blocker to his creative process and wants to make sure he’s not getting locked into a particular medium.
Ultimately, I think any medium that’s designed or encourages “escapism” can and does have the potential to cause displacement. From books, to radio, to TV, Internet, and video games, all have a promise of communicating something new or different which is both of interest and can be all-consuming of the consumer. The longest I’ve gone without Internet was 16 days back in 2007. If you asked me to do the same activity today, I’d find a cheap way to stay on Facebook, read Mashable, and check my email from the sky, the ocean, or like in 2013 when I posted a picture from the Great Wall of China from my iPhone. Am I addicted? Perhaps, but I think it’s more of the ease, convenience and accessibility that allows for the displacement. The challenge is to not it displace real life too much.
Addiction, MMC6400, Social Media, Web Theory,