The new media culture and its ever-changing technology has greatly changed both the way we live and communicate. What began as a mere way to spread information to the public has since been high-jacked with the bombardment of advertisements trying to sell us, not only a product, but a lifestyle. We now see a polarization of viewpoints represented across various different cable TV channels, but even more than that is the selection made available to us. All of these channels cater to an audience wider than ever before (i.e. The ‘Golf Channel’ exists, I kid you not). Any cable subscriber can flip through tons of channels, and this speaks a lot to how far we have gone as a collective society.
Gone are the days in which we spend our leisure time “outside”, a word we are now completely unfamiliar with. The programming itself has become so much more centralized around entertaining the public rather than informing it. As discussed in class, there is the notion that we are collectively ‘dumbing ourselves down’. The evidence as of late would clearly support this argument, i.e. CNN’s ‘Breaking News’ alert when Justin Beiber was arrested. Even I myself am guilty of this, as an avid reality TV viewer who spent a good majority of his weekend watching a marathon of America’s Funniest Home videos. While watching guys skateboard into rails and end up hospitalized is great and all; it really offers me no sort of intellectual benefit. Am I aware that I should have been reading a book or using my time more productively? Of course. Will this realization change my overall actions in the future? Most likely not, and therein lies the problem. Society’s obsession with celebrities and entertainment speaks volumes about where we are headed.
The future is difficult to predict, as we already know. What I can be certain of is that technology will continue to change at a rapid rate. We are above and beyond where we were even 10 years ago. This ever-changing technology will continue to out-do itself as we progress further. Technologies today are constantly working to be ‘the next big thing’ as companies attempt to actively out-do one another. We have recently seen our phones evolve into smartphones, and then tablets and watches, and even now to smart glasses (i.e. google glass) and this competitive fight to be the ‘top brand’ has only made the general public the “winners” as we stand back and buy every new product out there. This new technology, while engaging and highly efficient, has also come with its fair share of burdens. What used to be the norm was mailing letters to distant relatives, and now we instead Facebook them. What used to be the norm was having face-to-face conversations with friends, and now we instead Instant Message or text them. Just last week my geography professor Dr. Russel Fielding told us about how he facebook friend-ed a native of Tristan Da Cunha (very small remote island off the coast of South Africa) and he spoke to this individual about how our class was learning of the island’s unique geography. To which the islander responded, “Oh how fun! Please feel free to come on by anytime.” Dr. Russell Fielding now plans to create an Interterm course where he will hopefully be able to take a few DU students out there. Had this exchange taken place a mere 20 years earlier, it would have taken months of letters going back and forth. This new instant communication is quite powerful, but also makes us very lazy.
Taking it further, parents often times use an iPad as a parent figure as a means of quieting the child, which may seem like the easy solution for the moment, but this begs the question: Is that really the most beneficial solution for the child? We see children today receive their own phone at such a young age, and this is a trend that will continue to be monitored moving forward. I would argue that having children rely on technology does more harm than good in that they ultimately learn very little. Since we have google to find any answer to pretty much any question, our actual in-depth understanding has diminished. In order for us to succeed moving forward, it is in our best interest to maintain the appropriate balance. Will society act on this notion? That’s the big overarching question yet to be determined.