Week 4 commentary
The impact of digital media infrastructure means it has become a huge part of everyones lives, this is especially true with the next generation of adults growing up now as kids and teenagers. These people are being born into a time when the use of digital media is not just a choice in society, but it is a necessity to survival in the modern world. When I was a kid and teenager digital media was of course being used but it wasn’t really essential to your everyday, and even as an adult it wasn’t super common unless you were working somewhere that required Internet use. Now children are almost being born with a smart phone or tablet in their hand instead of toy. Children and teenagers now are better at using digital media devices than adults are because they have been using them since they were young. In this way the next generation is born co-existing with digital media and it is almost a part of their identity, Van Dijck explains how Peter Alvin, the husband of publicist Sandra Alvin experienced digital media in a completely different way to his own children, “[…] he personally experienced the transition from a participatory culture to a culture of connectivity, the younger Alvin’s accept the ecosystem as a condition upon which their social lives unfold. It just is. The normalization of social media means they take them for granted as an infrastructure” (155).
This continues onto the idea of disconnecting from digital media and whether or not it is actually possible to really disconnect from the digital world. People are always connected to digital media and even with this mindset of disconnecting physically, it is not always possible to disconnect mentally, as deBoer explains “[…] if you want to disconnect, you need to really disconnect- you can’t spend your offline time thinking about your old online self” (2014). This she refers to The Verge’s Paul Miller who attempted to digitally detox for one year and assumed he would “be more ‘real,” now. More perfect”. However he found after that year that he wasn’t any better by digitally detoxing and he wasn’t any more productive or a more well-rounded person, deBoer believes that people that detox still are living their lives with the mentality of their “online self” and are only physically disconnecting. “But the deeper issue is whether he’ll come back having spent that year thinking of all the funny stuff he’d be saying […] if he were online. If that’s the case, I’m afraid there’s no way disconnecting could ever have satisfied him”. This point really makes you think about how some of the most popular blogs and Instagram users are supposedly leading lives away from digital media and living natural and healthy lives, except the fact that they are some of the highest users of these media platforms. It begs the case of whether any of us are really ever “disconnected” mentally from digital media even if we cut it out of our lives.
deBoer, F. (2014) ‘Digital Breaks, or “Breaks”’, The Dish
Van Dijck, J. (2013) ‘The Ecosystem of Connective Media’ pp. 154–176