More literate but less focused.

There are so many things I have to say about the readings and video this week, but for fear of rambling and not making any sense, I will try to stick to the thoughts I seemed to have over and over while reading.

To start I should probably give you my thoughts on what media literacy is. We live in a world where there is constantly information changing hands by various media. Information can now be shared in an instant by clicking a button making the exchange extremely simple and fast. Within minutes information can go viral and thousands of people can be reached. It is much easier to share information today than it was when the only form of media was pen and paper or even radio. As technology has evolved it has changed the way we communicate. Being media literate means not only understanding the information that is sent, but how the information was sent and the effects of that medium. With the constant flow of information it is important to be able to sort through it all and determine what is important to us. We need to be able to analyze the information and look for deeper meaning. It is also important to understand the consequences or benefits that a simple post can have. Social activism is at an all time high because we can so easily reach a large audience.

It wasn’t too long ago that we sent letters and cards in the mail to family and friends. Now most communication is done through email, text or other social media. Society tends to favour text messaging over a phone call and email over “snail mail”. Most would argue that they prefer to text because it is quicker however I believe that texting gives a person more control over the conversation than a phone call. It is easier to ignore a text when you receive it and reply later when it is more convenient for you. It is easier to cancel plans through a text message than over the phone. Using written communications through technology allows the user to write a message, read it over, and edit whatever they want until it sounds the way they want it to. In a phone conversation you don’t have time to think or go back and erase what you said. What’s done is done.

This TED talk by Sherry Turkle really hit home for me.

It was something that I was able to relate to. Technology allows us to be more connected but it is also what drives us apart. Communication is such an important part in any relationship and many relationships today seem to only communicate through technology. We define ourselves based on likes and the number of friends/followers we have. But how many of these ‘friends’ are actually our friends? I know that I had a reality check after seeing a Facebook ‘friend’ from a distance in a store. I purposely walked the other direction to avoid running into her because I felt it would be an awkward conversation and she seemed to look like she felt the same way. We both seemed to want to avoid the situation. After that I had decided to defriend anyone I had on Facebook that I wouldn’t want to talk to in real life. Some of the people I defriended I had played sports with years ago or went to elementary school with but hadn’t talked to in years. I decided I didn’t want anyone on my friend list that I felt was simply there to creep on me. I have tried to keep my friends list to family, friends and good acquaintances. This has helped me feel more connected because I have actual real life relationships with my friends on Facebook.

We take our kids to the park and have our phone in our hands the whole time. With phones having cameras it gives you and easy excuse to have your phone while at the park with your kids, but the problem is we are using them for the wrong reasons. We miss a lot because we are constantly looking at a screen. It makes me really sad to see people on their phones when they are supposed to be with people. I sometimes find myself guilty of doing the things that make me mad but I have been trying to catch myself and change this behaviour.

It is important to try and find a balance between real life and technology. I know that technology is such a big part of our world and it seems impossible to function without it but we must set limits. I believe that media literacy can help establish this balance and teach us to better understand the reasons we feel the need to be constantly connected. I know over the last year I have made a conscious effort to detach myself from the different media in my life and have made a conscious effort to connect more with the people in my life.

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