You’re being watched

In the short time that social media has been around, the one consistent thing I have observed is that a great deal of people forget they are being watched. In a High Talk blog post, George F Snell III states that the line between public and private is now less defined than ever. Snell raises some points, which to me seems as standard Internet etiquette (studying media and communication helps I guess), however I’ve noticed it isn’t so obvious to some. Snell’s 5 guidelines in his post were ‘be polite, transparent, discrete, trustworthy and admit your mistakes’. Once I read that I realised that the majority of my Facebook friends definitely forget that what they post is not private. For example somebody “privately” chatting on Facebook IM and the other person decides to screenshot and share their conversation. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the time this is entertaining, but what everyone forgets is that we are constantly under surveillance. In some cases, people actually lose their jobs because of something they have posted/been tagged in on Facebook. I often see and hear this happen, and am not surprised by it. I’ve always felt that social media platforms should not be treated as a private space.

Before Facebook and Twitter even existed, there were chat rooms. And the thing my parents said over and over and over (as they could not keep me from using them) was ‘Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t tell anyone your real name, where you’re from, don’t put your birth date in your email address…’ the list goes on. Made complete sense then, nobody wants a stalker. However, today we openly let people stalk us online. Facebook has asked me all this information about my life from my name, to my favourite food and TV show, to what song I’m currently listening to. Not to worry, even if you don’t fill in these details, everyone on Facebook can see where you are if your location service is enabled on your phone. Now this, I feel, is utterly absurd. With relation to media and youth, an article by Sonia Livingstone explores the way media fosters youth culture through both form and content. Livingstone states that young people use the media precisely to discover and transgress established norms of public and private space. However, they are often naive to the power of the media subtly positioning them according to consumerist pleasures and powerful interests. Through content, they directly address the concerns, interests and experiences of youth. Through their forms, they can provide personalised media goods that determine the space of young online identities. Subsequently, the media repositions young people in relation to public and private spheres, casting them as both citizens and consumers for the future.

A friend once told me “never put anything in writing” and I have applied this both online and offline. People creating controversy, losing friends and even becoming unemployed because of the untasteful way they act online. My message to these people would be if you don’t want anyone knowing, don’t talk about it, anywhere. There is no such thing as privacy in cyberspace. This also goes for businesses who create social media pages – it is crucial to treat every interaction as a public one. We need to remember that everybody is a reporter now. Snell explained this brilliantly (with regard to “private” interactions), ‘the disgruntled customer might have 5,000 followers on Twitter. The waitress serving you while you discuss your company’s top-secret new product could be an avid blogger’ etc. Social media platforms are tools, use them wisely and they can work to your advantage, but one wrong move and you’ll unwillingly create an everlasting poor reputation. But hey, no pressure.

References:

Livingstone, S 2005, ‘Mediating the public/private boundary at home: children’s use of the internet for privacy and participation’, London: LSE Research Online, viewed 11/08/2013, <http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/506/1/JMP_6(1).pdf

Snell, GF 2009, 5 Guidelines for Public vs. Private in Social Media, High Talk, weblog post, 23 March, viewed 11/08/2013, <http://hightalk.net/2009/03/23/5-guidelines-for-public-vs-private-in-social-media/

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“The medium is the message”, “Worship at the altar of convergence”, “The machine is US/ing us”

 Humanity has been consistently enthralled by the methods used to present and communicate information. How individuals communicate defines who we are and constitutes a lot of what makes us unique. Marshall McLuhan introduced many observations about the impact of changing ways we express ourselves through media.

A valuable phrase stated by McLuhan is “the medium is the message” and that personal or social consequences of any medium is an extension of ourselves. The ‘medium’ is anything from which a change emerges – commonly through mass media communications such as radio, television, internet etc.

“Usually our senses bring the world to our minds, speech takes our sensorially shaped minds out to the world” I found this statement very significant in understanding the way McLuhan expresses the relationship between the medium and content; the content will always bind us to the source.

I was quite impressed with McLuhan’s points on communication and technology, it really opened my eyes as I never directly correlated the information we receive with the WAY we receive information. It seems so obvious when I think about it now though…

An article by Henry Jenkins further appended to my understanding of media change and its importance. It points out the way that convergence represents a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek information and make connections. Participatory culture and collective intelligence is what propels the media along. Participatory culture can be defined as consumers of the media interacting with each other according to a new set of rules which nobody understands yet. Furthermore, collective intelligence can be seen as an alternative source of power in the media.

Convergence occurs within the individual and through social interactions with others. An obvious example, every morning the first thing I do is check my phone, respond to texts, calls, Facebook/twitter notifications, update my tumblr/twitter… etc. Before i’ve even gotten out of bed. It’s also the last thing I do before going to sleep.

The way I ‘measure’ convergence in my mind is comparing generation X to generation Y. I guarantee my parents’  daily routine did not consist of spending so much time interacting with one another through wireless devices. My dad is sickened with the amount of time I spend on the internet, and I can understand why. Although I think he gets so irritated about it because he can’t keep up himself; yet as soon as he is having some sort of technical trouble he is so grateful to have his technology dependent daughter by his side.

Jenkins mentions in a video that convergence culture is a world where every story, sounds, brand, image and relationship plays itself out across the maximum number of media channels. These channels or ‘platforms’ are all the popular websites/applications used today such as Facebook and Twitter. Being connected online allows you to send and receive information on an international scale. Information can now go further, faster.

Another interesting video I watched was one named “Web 2.0…The machine is US/ing US”. This was a quick and effective way of pointing out how we have more power than we think. We teach ‘the machine’ something every time we use it. Hence computers learning what they know from what we do with them. It is not apparent to enough people just exactly how much control we have. More and more sites are becoming user generated since the boom of YouTube, Facebook and the like.

DEAR K-MART’S MOST RECENT COMMERICAL,

A brief post on advertising (influential media)…

Has anybody else noticed that K-marts most recent ad on television is ENTIRELY caucasian, middle-aged women? Now before you go thinking “der, obviously, that’s their target market/most popular group of consumers” just hold up a second – this really bothered me because shouldn’t the advertisers be trying to appeal to all different kinds of people? Middle aged women aren’t going to stop shopping there if they are not being advertised to directly. Now i’m not having a stab at K-mart, heck I love that place. They sell all kinds of essentials for various ages, gender, sex and race. My problem is with whoever’s in the big seat of their commercial advertising, seriously, update your code of ethics. I found the ad so sexist and stereotypical… some may disagree and say “dude it’s just an ad” but it’s these sly forms of advertising that further endorse stereotypes and ideologies of women… a very clever backhand to the face for society in my opinion.

Advertising plays a very significant role within the media and some don’t realise how much of an impact it actually has. It’s happening right under our noses and is primarily uncontrollable unless you are to remove yourself from the source itself – which is almost impossible. All across the internet, strewn through the streets, advertising gets exactly what is wants without people thinking twice until it is brought to their immediate attention.