to program or be programmed – social

I have social media sites so that I can get in contact with friends when I want to. I don’t have Facebook so I can meet “hot Christian singles” near me or let everyone know that I like Maybelline mascara. I don’t go on Buzznet to learn more about the Toyota Prius or about ‘the power of cleaning with Clorox’. I don’t go on social media sites to consume information about products, I go on to consume information about people I interact with. There are times when I go on these sites and feel bombarded with everything I am not looking for out of a social media site, like they are trying to serve some other purpose.

This is one of the biggest reasons why I prefer Tumblr. It doesn’t throw ads at me; consistently asking me if I’d like to join this dating site since my Facebook relationship status says I’m single. Tumblr allows me to dive into my interests, communicate with friends and build connections with others who have the same interests as me.

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In Program or be Programmed, Douglas Rushkoff explains, “Instead of looking to monetize or otherwise intercede between existing social connections, those promoting networks should be looking to foster connections between people who are as yet unknown to each other yet potentially in need of each other. And then let them go about their business – or their socializing” (p. 101).

I agree peer-to-peer networking is a better medium. Obviously I am going to value what my friend (or someone who has similar interests as me) has to say about a certain book or television show over what advertisers suggest. I have built connections with those I follow on Tumblr because of the obvious similarity between us and I’d much rather have them message me about an EP from their favorite artist who sounds similar to my favorite artist than have Spotify say “since you like music, you’ll love this band” and play some of the techno/electronic beat off the bands latest record (No Spotify, I’m positive I will not love this band). There is more value in the opinion of someone I have a connection with over someone/something that thinks they know me or what I like.

“The content is not the message, the contact is,” says Rushkoff (p.99). So, instead of receiving a distribution of spam, I think it’s more appropriate for businesses to stick to the social identity they have already made for themselves through their personal websites, and allow people to converse about what they have to offer on their own terms; don’t throw it in their face, they will talk about it/look into it/buy it if they want and they have a better chance of doing so if peers inform them about it.

Everyone talks about what they like, what they don’t like, what they absolutely cannot live without…etc. If I had a penny for every time someone said, “So and so said this is awesome, we should get it,” I’d have loads of pennies! I buy things, watch things, and listen to certain things because they were suggested to me by friends and family (who I consider to have good taste). I don’t buy, watch or listen to things because the sponsored tab on my page shows that 5 of my friends like it on Facebook.

Point: “We must remember that the bias of digital media is toward contact with other people, not with their content, or worse, their cash” (Rushkoff p. 96).


to program or be programmed – identity

In Program or Be Programmed, Douglas Rushkoff says, “Because digital technology is biased toward depersonalization, we must make an effort not to operate anonymously, unless absolutely necessary. We must be ourselves” (p. 89).

Being anonymous online is like speaking with your eyes closed or talking to someone over the phone instead of face to face, easy because no sight of a physical response allows more room for emotion and raw opinion.

This past semester, I went to a communication event where speaker Amy Webb, CEO of WebbMedia, informed the audience about social media and how to use it. She gave an eye-opening speech but one of the many things she said that stuck out to me was that we create identities online for a reason; we want others to be well aware of our existence and make connections with us so we create a Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. With our online identity we get to state our views on topics of interest, allowing others to see what we have to say and comment on it. But why comment anonymously? Why make an identity for yourself online if you are going to be anonymous? If we went through the trouble of making a social identity for ourselves, we shouldn’t hide it. Being anonymous only takes away from our identity (we aren’t giving ourselves the ability to build an online foundation if we are anonymous).

She told the audience to comment through social media sites so that others can be directed to you, so that others can see your presence online.

The whole point of having a web presence is to draw public interaction, isn’t it?

What we want to say shouldn’t be presented in a secretive way. That takes away from its validity. Takes away from its purpose. Easily causes my eyes, and possibly the many eyes of others, to skim over your words and look at what someone else has to say, the someone else who is identified and whose words seem real.

Rushkoff advises readers, “Make being real and identifiable the norm” (p. 88).

Don’t create a different version of yourself online (one that hides behind an obscure username and unidentifiable picture), be the same self you are in person, online. Hold onto your humanity when in the digital media realm and be accountable for all of your actions, even those you make online. We shouldn’t treat real life and digital life as two separate worlds. Life is life, digital media is just a part of the life we are living.┬áBe the same self you are online as you are offline. Just, be yourself.

Do you often comment on sites anonymously? If so, why?

What does ‘be yourself online’ mean to you?


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