Over the past ten weeks, we have seen how technology, especially the Internet, has evolved into becoming one of the most beneficial sources for spreading ideas and accessing information, but technology and freedom of expression have become contingent on both social and external factors. At the beginning of the course, we saw how media conglomerates affected the relationship between media and society by limiting the amount of resources citizens have to access the media, and how companies are able to dictate what to think through priming and agenda-setting effects. At the same time, we have also learned how media technologies are socially constructed through social norms, legal regulations and market pressures. Each of these factors determines how and what role media technology will play in our lives and in the future but it is necessary to educate ourselves and hold companies accountable to maintain freedom and transparency.
One of my biggest concerns for the future of technology and the media is that while we have become so “connected” in this virtual sphere, we have also become extremely disconnected with those people around us and it will affect how we communicate, and the values of communication, in the future. When I was growing up, if I wanted to get information I had to rent a book from the library. Now, we have immediate access to a plethora of information but one concern I have for the future is that we access information more quickly and know a lot more about specific things, rather than taking the time to learn about something on a larger scale.
Another concern I have is that our society is focused so much on ourselves and making a profit so we allow advertisements and corporations to dictate what we want to consume.
An example of this is Facebook, which serves as one of the most important forms of social media in the 21st century around the world. Facebook provides an outlet for people looking to spread their ideas, to form various social and supportive communities and to show off their everyday lives through pictures, status updates and wall posts, thus perpetuating an identity and shared practices. Facebook has also facilitated political activism, historic uprisings and has helped spread information both locally and globally. At the same time that Facebook is creating this network, our newsfeeds are now clogged with targeted advertisements, only reinforcing the commercial and for-profit business model of the media.
Douglas Rushkoff, an American media theorist believes that computers and networks are not just tools which people use, but it is the people that create them who are ultimately controlling and shaping the way we live and work. He believes that citizens will either be the creators of the programs, or they will be the consequence of consumerism and control in the future. Like the recent movie Her, we can either allow technology and our devices to control us and get in the way of our personal lives, or we can educate ourselves about the rules, norms and regulations of the media and technology and avoid some of the negative consequences that come with the relationship between media and society.