Staring at screens

Here I am, at the beginning of another semester, ready to stretch out my fingers and begin another chapter on this blog, where most things I write really do come from the top of my head…so please excuse some rambling which may occur. Over the next 9 weeks, I’ll share with you my take on how technology has revolutionised our ideas of media and in which places we interact with it.

It’s been a while so allow me to reacquaint myself with you. I’m Jasmine, 19 years old and in my second year studying Communication and Media. I’ve come a long way from the shy girl, fresh out of high-school, who you were first introduced to over a year ago.

Feeling like I have more direction, I hope to work as a communications officer and professional writer for a Not-for-profit organisation. I’ve decided on a Major in Journalism and Professional Writing and minor in Italian Language…perché sola lingua non è mai abbastanza.

This is me...

I’m in love with chocolate and live for summertime. I’m a fan of old school 90’s tunes and can often be found dancing around my room to the Back-Street Boys at ridiculous hours of the morning! My friends tell me I’m a good listener, at times a little crazy and I am always smiling.

Anyway, that’s enough of me for now, this week we were introduced to how technology has changed the audience. In previous posts, I’ve spoken about how the lines between media producers and consumers have been blurred. However, the situation is even more complicated. You see, the location or place where we are consuming our media today is also a large factor in influencing how we behave.

Today we were asked, are you ever concerned of who is around you when you’re consuming media in public? Maybe right now you could be on a bus or train on your smartphone or tablet, or on a public computer in the library looking at this very page. Are you aware of who is sitting next to you, behind you or has just walked past?

Perhaps reading a blog isn’t the best example, but imagine if you were in the middle of reading a very personal text message while in public. Most likely, you would make an effort to use your hand to cover the screen or tilt your phone to the side so the person sitting beside you can’t glance over and read too.

The funny thing about social media is the debate whether it is either adding to or disintegrating social interaction. Daniel Etcovich’s blog “Social Media Doesn’t Hurt My Offline Social Abilities: It Helps them” certainly makes some points in the defence of social media. Arguing it’s an avenue that actually helps us understand people and meet new people with common interests. Likewise, the same goes for smartphones and the array of social media apps that are just a touch of the screen away!

On the other hand we have a representation of the handheld social media space as this…

Admittedly, today on my bus-ride home from uni, this was me. Sitting alone on the bus, head down and phone in my hand, scrolling through my Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat feeds.  Even if you notice on the first picture of myself in this post, in my right hand I am holding my phone, and I do believe I uploaded that same photo to Instagram later that day. #havingalaugh

So, with the emergence of new media and how we’re using it is generating a lot of buzz. Images like the one above are certainly pointing the finger and screaming “media effects,” blaming the introduction of social media and smartphones for turning us all into zombies. No longer interacting in public space.

It’s easy to come to this conclusion and say, yep smartphones and technology is bad, full stop. Then again we wouldn’t be looking at the bigger picture.

While researching this topic I came across the blog “Redemption Pictures” by Micah J. Murray, specifically this post of a poem, “Smartphones and Dumb people.” 

Look up.

They say we are a generation of smartphones and dumb people.

Wasting our days on empty social media.

Trading real life for an artificial world.

Missing life because we’re looking down.

So let’s return to a quieter time.

Before glowing screens and flitting pixels demanded all our attention.

When people walked down the street or rode on the train with their heads held high.

Let’s return to the good old days.

When we looked one another in the eye.

Before smartphones made us dumb.

Certainly this poem takes a conservative approach, new technology creates antisocial behaviour and life before computer screens and handheld devices involved people participating more in public life. However, at the end of the post is a series of images that completely juxtaposes the message of the poem.

This image, although portraying a scene years before the introduction of the mobile phones reveals the same behaviour of people consuming media in public. No one’s face is up and no one appears to be interacting. A user’s comment on Murray’s post argued that before smartphones were made available, people were already burying their noes into books, newspapers and magazines to avoid speaking to strangers around them.

Therefore it wouldn’t be fair to just look at the media as a reason behind our antisocial behaviours in public.  When new media emerges, people immerse themselves into it until they can figure out how they can use it best. It is certainly interesting to examine how we adapt our patterns of behaviour once we’re introduced to new types of media.

Perhaps it is not just the type of media we are using in public that affects how we behave. More likely, it is where we are that affects if we choose to use media as a form of escape.There may be an underlying human anxiety that calls for us to retreat to the comfort of our “friends” and “followers” so we seem preoccupied to the strangers around us.

That’s all for now and thanks for reading.






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