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After our first lecture in 252MC I was struck by something that Mez Packer (the course leader) said. She mentioned that many people seem to be stuck in front of their computer, we seem to like having some form of digital object in front of us. This was also reiterated in the video we watched, a talk by Andrew Blum: Discover the physical side of the internet. He says :

“But what was striking to me over the last several years was that less and less was I going out into the world, and more and more, I was sitting in front of my computer screen. And especially since about 2007, when I got an iPhone, I was not only sitting in front of my screen all day, but I was also getting up at the end of the day and looking at this little screen that I carried in my pocket. And what was surprising to me was how quickly my relationship to the physical world had changed.”

This discussion was also raised by my grandma over Christmas, in actual fact it was our Christmas day discussion point. She asked how this was affecting me, because she knew that I was born in the digital age. I recall a poster in my primary school about how email was better than ‘snail mail’. I have grown up around computers because my dad works in the field of IT. I actually don’t remember not having a computer or some form of digital technology in the house. I remember my dad owning a laptop, a desktop, all before I was 7. Afterwards we had a first design of a tablet (kind of) when I was 7, in fact I taught my granddad how to use it. I remember my mum getting a mobile phone in the first few years of the 21st century. I knew how to text around the age of 11, and my grandparents asked me to teach them how to text, even though I didn’t actually own a mobile phone. Even though growing up around this technology none of it was mine. I got my first phone for my 16th birthday, my first computer when I came to university and I have never had a TV in my room. I did have get a nintendo DS lite when I got into secondary school, and for my 12th birthday I got an iPod. But I wouldn’t say I was ever addicted to these items.

According to the Pew Research Center laptop ownership increased by 31% from March 2006 to March 2012. And according to a Media Week article between 2012 and 2013 ownership of laptops went up by 1.4%, smartphone ownership went up by 28.5% and tablet ownership went up my 13.9%. And I can only see this increase. I might have had a slightly different upbringing to most with being around a lot of technology like laptops because of my dad’s job. But still I don’t think many children will grow up without at least a TV and smart phone. And this could have profound effects on the children growing up. I have a prediction that we will see an increase in ADD within children because they won’t get the attention they need from their parents as they are “too busy” on their phone or laptop. I have seen it in coffee shops or restaurants where a small child is acting up (usually annoying the other customers) but the parent isn’t doing anything about it because they are on their phone. You also hear and read stories of children trying to move their TV screen like you would move the screen on a tablet or smartphone. There is even a video of a child trying to do this to a magazine. I don’t understand when I see articles like that because to me it doesn’t make sense evolutionary. Unless this is something we are moving towards like Amber Case suggests that we are moving to something post human.

But yes, I find myself on the computer fairly regularly although I would much rather be with my friends. Hell, I’m writing this up right now on my laptop. But I find when I meet up with them they don’t seem to reciprocate. Quite recently I went out for a few drinks with a friend, she almost immediately hooked up to the wifi and (what it felt like) started talking to everyone in the world but the person she decided to go physically out with. After a few minutes of silence as she was typing to her friends, she looked up and said “why aren’t you talking to me?!” I didn’t really have a response for such a question because really that was what I was thinking. (Note: my phone was in my pocket.) I was flabbergasted and slightly hurt that she was annoyed at me. Anyway I did tell her she was being rude but really nothing actually was done about it, she continued to talk to these friends but also to me. When I look around my class during lectures a majority of the class our on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites, usually talking to the person next to them. (I’ve even seen people buy things online during lectures!) It shocks me that this happens, you’ve come into university to be taught yet you’re doing something you can do at home.

But the question still remains: why? Why are people more focused on what is going on digitally than in the real world? Why when they are actually doing something physical do they update their online life? I even do this myself: But why?

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I question myself, why do I need to post this? Does anyone care? Will anyone read this? Is there any need to post this? No. Ten years ago we didn’t go around saying “just going to the shops lol” or “having coffee with a my best friend! #starbucks” So why do it now? Just because there is an ability to do something doesn’t mean you need to do it.

I have often wondered if it is the need to prove yourself, prove that you’re doing something interesting with your life. No, I am not in front of a computer I am out with my friend to prove it I will post something. But then again, not all posts are about what you’re doing. So I wonder if it is some form of compliment fishing and wanting to be appreciated? Studies have shown that there is a link between getting likes/comments on your updates and there being a increase in your self esteem because of it.

After reading this article I was intrigued by the introduction, that we do get to create an ideal person, no one has to know you are you. In theory you can type anything you want into that status box, but in reality you are not doing it. Or even if you actually grabbing a cup of coffee or meeting with friends you get to look like you are doing something with your life.

Question: Why do I use social media?

  • Talk to friends/organise meeting up with friends.
  • Advertise my photography
  • Get updates from friends
  • Occasionally update my friends on what is going on.
  • Post photos of social gatherings between me and my friends (usually because they ask me).

This is something I think I will come back to over the course of this module, maybe even after.

Bibliography:

All articles, websites and videos that I have used have been linked into this post.

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2 thoughts on “Musings: Being Stuck In Front of A Computer

  1. Pingback: The (Not So) Social Media | kkuphotography

  2. Pingback: The (Not So) Social Media

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