Thursday, 11 April 2013

Too Much Communication?

As a Canadian with a smart phone and access to the internet I have the ability to communicate with almost anyone in the world at almost any time. As a great man once said “with great power come great responsibility” (Uncle Ben, Spiderman) this is a bit of an over exaggeration. At the same time it’s true we have a lot more power with the ability to communicate with anyone at a moment’s notice.  A person now has multiple persona; how they act in real life, on the internet, and on their cellphone. “Social norms for behavior in public settings often conflict with those for phone conversations (Love and Kewley 2005; Palen et al. 2001), mobile phone use in public presents as many challenges as it does opportunities, and has consequently become an active area of social science research”. (Cambell (et al))  This quote from Cambell sums it up, whereas prior to the cell phone age social norms were clear it was know what was accepted by society and what was not. New forms and access of communication has begun to affect how we communicate as a society.

Society today communicates more than ever before; a cell phone has become a necessary part of immersing oneself within a society. “Mobile phones are unique from most other interactive media because they can be worn on the body”. (Cambell (et al)) An interesting note on how owning a specific brand of smart phone can have an effect on who you communicate with. I would like to give the example of the Blackberry. A feature that plays a major role in purchasing of a Blackberry over a competitor is the Blackberry Messenger Feature. This is an application on the blackberry that allows you to communicate to other Blackberry’s over the internet.  The application allows user to post picture, status updates, send and receive video calls, picture, files for free over Wi-Fi or using there internet providers internet services.  This application is only available on the Blackberry device.  This affects who you communicate with because these status and picture updates are only seen by people who you have given your BBM pin too. The reason I bring this up is because even though we have the ability to communicate has become so easy there are still different virtual social groups that exist. Theses virtual social groups affect who you communicate with, just like how in the past your social status could affect who you communicate, now your presence on specific applications can have an effect on who you communicate with.
A question typically asked to myself by my elders is why my age group feels the need to communicate through all these different social media websites or applications. I think I know why we do; Its because we have the ability to communicate so why not. But then I step back and wonder; well why do we gain from constantly giving our opinions and thoughts ubiquitously on the internet. This is where the fun happens. A person can literally write anything they want on the internet. For example on the popular website Reddit a person posting the following image.

This “meme” is used to confess simple funny things on the internet. However this person under the user name “Naratto” used the meme to confess to a murder.  Naratto later said that is was a joke however this meme received so much attention that it lead to an minor investigation by the FBI. This is an example of a “evil” use of communicating on the internet.  A “good” example of how communicating over the internet is summed up in this quote. “The information age is making technology transparent and ubiquitous, blurring the distinction between users and designers, increasing complexity and increasing the tempo of product design” (Walker (et al) p. 214) Using twitter it has now become possible to easy communicate ideas for products. You can simple write a comment then by using the proper hash tag it is now possible to communicate ideas for product directly to a company’s development team.

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