How does technology define you?

Before this past week, I had never heard the terms digital native or digital immigrant. Digital natives are described as those who were born after 1980 and have grown up with technology. Those who were born before 1980 are considered to be digital immigrants. I don’t know how much I agree with these terms and here’s why. Although those of us born after 1980 have grown up with technology it doesn’t mean we automatically know how to do everything involving technology. The technology has always been available for us to use, but it is not something that we use automatically without any qualms. It may be easier for us to figure out how to use an app or navigate the internet but it certainly isn’t innate. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone and we must still learn how to use the tools and devices that we have access too. The people who are labelled as digital immigrants are no different in this respect. Although they have had to adapt a little bit more than the “digital natives” both parties still require training in order to make use of technology. The learning curve for a digital native will almost always be quicker, but there is still a curve. My 80 year old grandma would be considered a digital immigrant and she navigates her way through Facebook, online banking, email and the internet just fine. Yes she had to be taught how to do all of those things and maybe doesn’t know as much as a so called digital native, but she doesn’t mind. She knows enough to be able to connect with her family that is provinces away and it makes her feel closer to them. Maybe she is a digital immigrant and has a digital accent as described in the PBS video. I don’t know how I feel about the terms digital native and digital immigrant. I can see it from both perspectives but can’t seem to decide which I agree with more.

I really enjoyed the IRL Fetish article by Nathan Jorgenson. It really made me think and I have to agree with a lot of points made. The bold font was taken directly from the article and I have given my thoughts after each statement.

Without a device, we are heads up, eyes to the sky, left to ponder and appreciate. This summer we took a road trip to Edmonton. We decided to give our two year old son the iPad so he could entertain himself and hopefully make the drive a little more manageable for us all. He watched one movie and then played some apps. Knowing he is big into trains and trucks we would tell him to look out the window at the trains or trucks that we passed on the highway. After a while we ended up taking the iPad away and he was the one pointing out the window at the trains and trucks. My husband and I said to each other that it was interesting to think about all he would have missed if he continued to be on the iPad the whole time. I guess if you’ve seen one train or truck you’ve seen them all, but the point is that it was nice to have him enjoy some of the ride rather than have his face down looking at the iPad the whole time.

Forgetting one’s phone causes a sort of existential crisis. I am guilty of this and can admit that when I forget my phone, my heart skips a beat and I have a brief panic attack. Last summer I was going out to Craven to watch a concert and left my phone at home. I immediately told my friend I needed to text my husband from her phone to let him know I left mine behind so that if he tried to text and I didn’t respond he wouldn’t worry. We also made sure that we didn’t leave each others side that night for fear of losing each other in the crowd. I had a great time that night but I had no pictures to capture Luke Bryan or any other acts that night. I felt lost without my phone and was wondering how I would survive. Of course I survived and I was actually surprised when I got home that I didn’t miss any phone calls and only had a few missed emails and texts. It made me realize that I didn’t miss much without my phone and probably enjoyed my night a little more in it’s absence.

Disconnection from the smartphone and social media isn’t really disconnection at all: The logic of social media follows us long after we log out. What is most crucial to our time spent logged on is what happened when logged off; it is the fuel that runs the engine of social media. When Turkle was walking Cape Cod, she breathed in the air, felt the breeze, and watched the waves with Facebook in mind. These were taken from different paragraphs throughout but they all relate to the same idea. Although we are offline, social media continues to be updated and we continue to think about social media. When we are offline it seems we are constantly thinking about what is happening online or what we will update when we get back online. So much of what we do offline is still heavily influenced by our online presence. We can’t wait to tell people what we did and who we were with.

We aren’t friends until we are Facebook friends. This also relates to Danah Boyd’s article Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications. If there were a Facebook spectrum, I think there are two different types of people on opposite ends of the spectrum. Those people who want to keep their friends list smaller including only “real friends” and family; and those who want to include anyone and everyone who they have ever crossed paths with. People can fall anywhere in between those two extremes. It is important to understand why people accept friends or request friendships. I know I have had experiences where I have only accepted someones friendship for fear of what might happen if I don’t. I have also deleted friends and wondered how that would impact other social relationships. I do believe that there is a big difference between the term friends and Facebook friends. I think your friends can also be Facebook friends, but I think a lot of people have Facebook friends that they wouldn’t consider true friends. This concept of friends vs Facebook friends is something I think is important to teach our students. Facebook shouldn’t be about having the most Facebook friends and biggest friends list just for the sake of having it. It shouldn’t be a popularity contest.

I do think that our digital self can be very different than our real life self. I think we base our self worth on how many likes we get and who comments on our pictures. We compare our life to our friends life through these digital platforms. Something we need to be careful of is the fact that the digital lives we see of our friends and family are not always the realistic life they live. How many selfies or pictures did they take before they got the one good enough to be uploaded onto Facebook? What filter are we seeing their life through on Facebook. We don’t always post the smiles and laughter. We sometimes complain or post negative things. Regardless of what we are posting we always think about who will see it and the reaction it will get. Will people like this picture? Will they judge me for posting this meme or political statement? It is easy to hide behind our digital self and pretend that life is perfect when in reality it can be far from it. This is something that is important to teach our children and even our students. Maybe I’m being to hard on us all…what do you think?

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