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?



to program or be programmed – choice

‘Life is full of choices. Choose carefully’

was a sign I read every M-F of my high school days. The mantra hung outside the classroom door of my senior English class and I always despised it. For an indecisive individual like myself, I find choices to be annoying.

Where should we go for dinner? What should we do Saturday night? When should we call the landlord?

There are so many choices and with these choices come many different options, which makes it harder to make a choice. I find myself having to play a game of eeny-meeny-miny-mo in order to make a decision for some of the minor choices I have to make, and sometimes I feel as though I am forced to make a decision because others are way more indecisive than me. I’d rather not make the choice at all and have others I am with make the choice instead, that way the pressure is off.

I admit though, that choice making is best when there is more than one option; making a choice when there are only two options is very limiting and can have an unexpected result. Yes or no, right or left, stop or go, are all choices that can have adverse affects if chosen incorrectly. That’s when the pressure is really on.

I feel as though media offers many limiting choices. To tag or not to tag, to update or not to update, to blog or not to blog, to reply or to ignore: the choices is ours, and it’s entirely limiting. If I don’t tag my sorority sister in a picture, she most likely will tag herself (or better yet, one of our 100 will). If I don’t update my status the less of a presence I will have on Facebook and the less people will know about me so and that’s the main reason I have a Facebook right?so might as well update. If I don’t update my blog I am going against the purpose of creating it and I might also lose followers, so might as well blog. If I don’t reply to that Facebook message or text message that person will think I am ignoring them and freak out as well as probably second guess our friendship therefore, might as well reply. These thoughts consistently take over my decisions limiting my choices preventing me from the choice I seem to be forgetting –> none of the above.

In Program or be Programmed, Douglass Rushkoff believes, “We are free to withhold choice, resist categorization, or even go for something not on the list of available options…Withholding choice is not death…it is one of the few things distinguishing life from its digital imitators” (p. 60).

So here I am all this time thinking I have to make these choices and I must choose them carefully. Here I was feeling pressured that my choice wasn’t the wise choice, the careful choice. I’ve been too busy making choices that I haven’t had time to realize that I don’t have to always make a choice or even that I can pick or suggest from different options, not just what I am presented with.

Realizing that choices can take a back seat or be emptied in the trash every now and then is a relief for my indecisive self. I think this realization will really help with my upcoming new media diet because I won’t feel as big of a need to make a choice about one of my many social media sites; I can withhold the choices for the 72 hours of fasting and from there on lessen the choices I make with social media (and maybe even life decisions).

still need some help making decisions/choices? maybe this will help!

Do you think it’s possible to withhold from making choices?

Has a social media site like Facebook or Tumblr ever forced you into a choice? Did you have a hard time accepting the choice? or, Did you like that the choice was made for you?

to program or be programmed – place

Hihi bloggers,

Do you have that one friend who is constantly on his/her phone? I mean, text messages, status updates, and tweets all within the same time and place kind of friend?

If you don’t, you are lucky because I do and I absolutely can’t stand it. Sometimes I feel like I can’t get through to her without sending her a text, rather than physically communicating with her. The worst part is, she doesn’t realize how unattached to the world she is because her sense of attachment is located in her hands, most likely, currently typing on the keypad of her smartphone.

click here to learn about ways to limit cell phone use

Text messaging, emailing, and Facebook chat tends to take the place of over the phone conversations, and iChat, Gchat, and Skype tends to take the place of physically interacting with people. Even people who aren’t miles away from us.

In Program or be Programmed, Rushkoff explains it best when he states, “This makes them (digital networks) terrifically suitable for long-distance communication and activities, but rather awful for engaging with what – or who – is right in front of us.” (p. 41)

I appreciate that digital media allows me to keep in contact with people who are too far for me to spend time with but I don’t like that it gives people a reason to not bother hanging out with someone who lives less than 10 minutes away since it’s much simpler (in their minds) to just Skype with them. That is nonsense.

Technology has definitely made things much more convenient, but I sometimes crave the personal interaction. I would prefer to see my family and friends and have a real conversation, not just communicate with them on a blog, in a text, or through Facebook. I prefer the clearer picture, the sharpness and clarity of reality, the ability to see the exact amount of wrinkles the furrow of someones brow makes when expressing themselves. I like facial expressions and I like hand gestures and I like to take them in while walking around or at the beach, not sitting at my desk in front of my laptop, or wherever I have internet connection.

Yes, it’s cool to be able to talk online but its way better to talk in person.

Sometimes I wish everyone disconnected themselves from digital technology for 24 hours every now and then to put themselves at ease and remind themselves that the meaning of life does not involve technology. I love when it’s finals week and I put all my social media sites down, silence my cell phone, and stir clear of the TV. It’s like, nothing can go wrong and if it does, I won’t know about it’s because I have no connection to the information. If refreshing and it even feels slightly rebellious.

We need to recognize the dislocation from the world that digital media causes and in response, we need to disconnect ourselves from the media in order to reconnect ourselves to the world. It’s possible, we just have to willingly do it.

Any activity you will be engaging in that I did not list? If so, what?

Will you complete more than one activity?

to program or be programmed – time

Hey bloggers,

Time is of the essence, yet, many of us continue to sit on our laptop and reblog One Direction pictures, sift through our friends status updates liking and commenting for the heck of it, or stalk our celebrity crushes through their tweets because…well isn’t that what a twitter is for?

We spend tons of time completing these actions and when we’ve finally had our fill, we realize hours have gone by. Hours we can never get back. Minutes of precious time no longer available due to our inability to see the control digital technology has over us.

I admit I am no stranger to the suction of digital media sites; they pull you in barely allowing you to get away for even a washroom break. I once put off watching one of my favorite television shows because 1) I was too focused on reblogging Tumblr images and 2) I knew the show would be online within an hour after it aired, so I could just watch it that way. It was okay if one of my roommates wanted to talk to me, they could text me since my phone was right next to me or better yet, they could Facebook message me, since I had that up already. I basically spent all of my time devoted to my laptop, not realizing how much time I was letting get away from me. It wasn’t until I took a time management survey in one of my psychology classes (you know, the one that asks you how many hours a day you spend doing a, b, and c), that I realized how much time I spent on the internet.

This was basically my life:

It was quite disturbing to realize such a thing, but the realization helped lessen the amount of time I spent on the internet from there on in. Every now and then I need to re-adjust the time I spend on certain social media sites, but I vow to never again give more than 8 hours a day to them.

Digital media lets us dive into a realm in which we lose a sense of time for ourselves only allowing us to give all or most of our time to media. Our smartphones are attached to our hands and we respond to every new vibration, our iPad is filled with dozens of applications that scream “play me”, our laptop contains internet browsers that let us go onto Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest to communicate with anyone and everyone, even those who live a couple of steps down the hall from us. Even our TV’s are smart and let users watch shows from Netflix and Hulu if they can’t seem to find anything captivating enough from the hundreds of channels Xfinity provides them with.

We don’t wait on digital technology. It waits on us. It’s always ready to be used and surfed.

It’s quite ridiculous when you think of it, but our lives don’t have to revolve around it. In Program or be Programmed, Rushkoff points out, “The simplest way out is to refuse to be always on. To engage with the digital…can still be a choice rather than a given.” (p. 37) Indeed, digital technology is a huge part of our life, but it tends to take away from more important things in our life. Things that used to matter to us before technology took over.

Technology has made things much more convenient, but take advantage of the personal connection rather than the virtual. Physically spend time with friends and have a real conversation, don’t just read about them in a blog, on Facebook, or in a text message.

Quit being programmed, do something productive that doesn’t involve a piece of technology.

click this picture to find out how Technology Is Ruining Your Life

How will you spend your time offline? What old habits will you re-continue? Any new habits?

to program or be programmed – intro

Dear bloggers,

I will admit, I go on Google and type in search topics and it spits out what I need and I tend to use the information given. I don’t think about how it knows what is relevant to my topic or how it is making decisions, I just accept what it gives me…because I’ve always accepted it as the proper way to receive answers.

and cue Douglas Rushkoff shaking his head in disappointment

I am also disappointed, but only because I am now well aware of where I stand within the program vs. programmed spectrum of the world.

Like many others, I am part of the programmed society. I have taken in the new technologies given to me and have not learned how they work or how they work on me.

But, just as Rushkoff has pointed out, “It doesn’t have to turn out this way. And it won’t if we simply learn the biases of the technologies we are using and become conscious participants in the ways they are deployed….it’s time to press the pause button and ask what all this means to the future of our work, our lives, and even our species.” (p. 16)

So here it goes, my road to getting with the program.

Learn more from Rushkoff, and press the pause button.

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