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How Social Media Reshape Consciousness - GPACW Conference - Mankato
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How Social Media Reshape Consciousness - GPACW Conference - Mankato

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Drawing from the theoretical framework established by Marshall McLuhan, this study looks at how we negotiate meaning as users on social networking platforms and make sense of our surroundings.

Drawing from the theoretical framework established by Marshall McLuhan, this study looks at how we negotiate meaning as users on social networking platforms and make sense of our surroundings.

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  • Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Jason. I come from St. Cloud State University. Before I begin with my presentation, may I have a show of hands… how many of you …
  • Social media have become common phenomena in the global society, with Facebook recently topping the chart of social networking sites by achieving its 1st one-billionth unique membership in October – that means one out of seven persons on earth owns a Facebook account. If that number isn’t cool enough, what’s more amazing is that this chart-topper has 140.3 billion friendships (or what we callfriend connections) among all users. That, I think, is pretty amazing!
  • Nonetheless, the question I would like to pose to begin this presentationwith is: how has the way we interact with one another and make sense of the world changed due to the prolonged use of social media today? Since Marshall McLuhan’s first proposal of the idea that The Medium is the Message, we have come only to a partial understanding of the media’s effect on our society (Leatherwood, 2012). Today, we are looking at a new paradigm of communication due to media change and convergence. Technological revolution has changed our personal and social lifestyles. For instance, with hundreds of millions of smartphones ruling over our palms today, how much autonomy do we still have in a life restrained by digital technology? Drawing on McLuhan’s theories and findings from several studies, this presentation looks at the impact of social media from the perspectives of the medium, the user, and the user’s community.
  • A medium is in itself, as McLuhan observed, a message.Foulger (2004) said that the medium isa language; and the message of a medium is not only inherent to a message, but often an elements of the medium. This can be translated as if the relationship between a medium and the message that it carries is symbiotic. McLuhan believed that the way we are affected by a medium is more significant than the content it carries.
  • First, let’s look at the medium. In social media, users are said to be immersed in an integrated communication experience within these social networks.
  • The society builds its communication models and decide what a media system should be (Cardoso, 2008). The models of communication aim to examine and explain the process of human communication.There are three traditional communication models: interpersonal, one-to-many, and mass communication. With social media, our societies have witnessed the emergence of a new communication model: a fourth model that precedes the three traditional models in terms of its cycles of social affirmation (Ortoleva, 2004). This model is described as “self-mass communication” (Castells, 2007). This model is shaped by the capacity of communication globalization (Cardoso, 2011) and interpersonal media, and, accordingly, by the emergence of networked mediation. Thanks to the invention and enhancement of communication technologies – including portable integrated devices such as smartphone, laptops, and tabloid computers – this model reflects innovation in the availability of user-generated contents and also in the erasure of borders between traditional media genres and social appropriation through information-sharing.
  • This integrated experience is essential to sustain Web 2.0 and online social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace (ranked in the order of their user membership). These are interactive and affective communication media, which cultivate a global integration process that forms a global society, through acculturation where values and common language connects the online citizens in an international network system (McLuhan’s ideal Global Village). Moreimportantly, these social media enable greater web-based application through user-generated content. Subsequently, this transforms users from content consumers into content producers (Ahmed et al, 2012). Thanks to the presence of these citizen producers and their content, we see a rise to the co-existence of different information models for different audiences.
  • McLuhan used the term “Global Village” to refer to the new form of social organization that would, as Baran and Davis translate, inevitably emerge as instantaneous electronic media tied the entire world into one great social, political, and cultural system. This visionary predicted the way human would communicate with one another over social networking platforms before computers were even personalized for home usage. Obviously, his forecast became reality and the world continues to deal with this new paradigm shift. Supported by psychological research, the “Global Village” concept exemplifies the culture of belongingness hyped within online social circles.
  • Social networking sites offer “a space in which people can address this need to belong by using services provided by the sites that enable conversations and information gathering, along with the possibility of gaining social approval, expressing opinions, and influencing others” (Gangadharbatla, 2008). Now, let’s take a look at the users themselves. According to Brown, the definitions of identity shift as we spend more of our social lives online.
  • Social scientists have made a distinction between a found identity and a made identity (Brown, 2012). The found identity is created by one’s circumstances – ancestral background (parents, family inheritance, ethnic background, etc.), religion, gender, sexual orientation, education level, profession, and other external factors that can be used to categorize and describe a person. On the other hand, the made identity is the one created by the users themselves and what they would like to be identified with (Brown, 2012). With the increased membership of online social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the level of engagement and interaction among users on these virtual societies has skyrocketed like never before. In addition to engaging directly with other individuals, users may construct an idealized version of themselves in the virtual worlds. Essentially, they can do so by uploading profile images that are representative of their idealized self, and providing personal information such as name, birthday, schools they attend, where they work and live, as well as contact information. With the idealized identity, this nature of online community may bestow advantages over face-to-face communication. But how far can cyber-relationship really replace the “real thing?” For some champions of the Internet, this question seems meaningless: Cyber-relationships are just different, and their unique nature has the potential to change the way humans interact in general. Parks (1996) argued that cyber-relationship necessitates a rethinking of traditional relationship theory. In his example, direct exchange and reciprocal feedback no longer need to be thought of as essential for successful interaction. Hence, the online social worlds offer the potential for a completely new concept for the self, and reconstruct the ways we engage with one another, in which we are no longer constrained by geography, embodiment, personal history, and other preset identities (Parks, 2006).
  • With the increased membership of online social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the level of engagement and interaction among users on these virtual societies has skyrocketed like never before. In addition to engaging directly with other individuals, users may construct an idealized version of themselves in the virtual worlds. Essentially, they can do so by uploading profile images that are representative of their idealized self, and providing personal information such as name, birthday, schools they attend, where they work and live, as well as contact information. With the idealized identity, this nature of online community may bestow advantages over face-to-face communication. But how far can cyber-relationship really replace the “real thing?” For some champions of the Internet, this question seems meaningless: Cyber-relationships are just different, and their unique nature has the potential to change the way humans interact in general. Parks (1996) argued that cyber-relationship necessitates a rethinking of traditional relationship theory. In his example, direct exchange and reciprocal feedback no longer need to be thought of as essential for successful interaction. Hence, the online social worlds offer the potential for a completely new concept for the self, and reconstruct the ways we engage with one another, in which we are no longer constrained by geography, embodiment, personal history, and other preset identities (Parks, 2006).
  • In a study of new sociability of Facebook, Papacharissi and Mendelson find that individuals, “equipped with a toy that enables social connections,” are able to fulfill traditional mediated and interpersonal needs simultaneously, “while at the same time expanding their social connections and so-called social net worth in these satellite social spheres” (2011). Whether it is to communicate affiliations with a particular taste of culture, or to attribute affections, or to merely establish an online presence, the social worlds have become a manifesto for its users to express themselves (both their emotions and identity) via the many functions and tools available on these platforms.
  • Just as Henry Jenkins puts it, “media convergence is more than simply a technological shift. Convergence alters the relationship between existing technologies, industries, markets, genres, and audiences” (2006). So, lastly, let’s examine the role “we” play in the reconstruction of meanings.
  • Technology is evolving us into cyborgs of the online networks, says digital anthropologist Amber Case(2011). Like it or not, we now have a second self that lives behind the binaries of our computers and devices. People are interacting and dealing with that second self of theirs whether they are online or offline. Hence, in order to maintain sociability, one learns to maintain that digital (idealized) self and communicate to others like social cyborgs – travelling and compressing time and space. By staring at the screen and clicking on pages, social cyborgs are able to alter history and create the future. In December of 2011, Facebook released the Timeline feature, which allows personal pages to create their individual milestones by deciding what to highlight on their timeline of events and stories, and to enjoy the autonomy to determine who can see those posts (with the options to hide or delete stories). This ability to “control” the past and the future is synonymous to a time machine. This new version of screen-staring, button-clicking cyborg-Homosapiens can now literally bend time and space. With that, a new sense of community is created. Case calls this “ambient intimacy,” a term coined by UX consultant Lisa Reichelt (Rachel-t), to define the ability to keep in touch with others on a level of regularity and intimacy that one would not usually have access to, because time and space conspire to make it possible (2007).
  • According to Case, there are some psychological effects that come with such perception of intimacy. She is worried that online social networks users no long take time to mentally reflect on their surrounding. She said these users no longer have external input, which helps with the creation of self, to do long-term planning, to try and figure out who they really are (2011). Now they are locked to the internal (idealized) self.When we are so consumed by the unlimited virtual space, how much consciousness is left for the physical world? After all, do we still need to maintain an analog self?
  • Beyond that, users have a strong attachment to the machine and the virtual world that does not physically exist. Case teased that some users may actually feel a sudden loss in their mind if they lose any relationship or information kept within the cyberspace. Very quickly, the user became the center for the message; the user is the content and struggles between the paradoxical extremes of controlling their online presence and being controlled by the space they have just created. Jenkins affirms that “audiences, empowered by these new technologies… are demanding the right to participate within the culture [of new media].” This hence may result in “struggles and compromises” that will (re)define the public culture of the future (2006).
  • Research and studies into social media and their adoption by Internet users remain limited. This presentation prompts some research questions for future explorations: What are social media users’ perceptions of the implications of media consumption?What are some ethical issues involved in users’ creation of an idealized second self?Based on the common personalities and social media behaviors of their students, how can teachers integrate social learning across online community into their curriculum? What are the pedagogical values of social networking sites?
  • I would like to expand this study by looking at the major research questions raised above. Though, Jenkins has called for more patience with the study of new media as he asked researchers to not “expect the uncertainties surrounding convergence to be resolved anytime soon.” He said, “we are entering an era of prolonged transition and transformation in the way media operates” (2006). Nonetheless, I believe the study of new media and the paradigm shift is yet timely and essential.
  • This presentation has focused exclusively on roles play by the medium, the user, and the user’s community in reshaping media perspectives in the users. However, I would not want to end this presentation on a negative deterministic perception of social media. So I have to say this…In her recent work, Case presented at the TEDWomen conference and said that the most successful technology actually gets out of the way and helps us live our lives better. And really, they end up being more human than technology, as long as we are co-creating each other at the same time.So, having an understanding of the social implications of social networks, we can strive to minimize the negative consequences and uphold the humanistic values in our consumption of these social media.

How Social Media Reshape Consciousness - GPACW Conference - Mankato How Social Media Reshape Consciousness - GPACW Conference - Mankato Presentation Transcript

  • MEDIA PERSPECTIVES:how social media reshape consciousness great plains alliance of computer and writing annual conference | nov. 9 2012 jason tham | st. cloud state university | jasontham.blog.com | @JasonCKTham
  • I think I am amazing.
  • OVERVIEWSocial media influenceCreating & maintaining identities Social interaction Integration of virtual identity into reality
  • the medium is the messagean integrated communication experience in social networks
  • Interpersonal communicationOne-to-many communicationMass communication self-mass communication Emergence of networked communication Integrated experience Citizen producers Co-existence of information models
  • enhance user experience through convergence
  • global village
  • you are the message social identity in the new virtual society
  • IDENTITY SHIFT Found Identity VS. Made Identity
  • Fulfilling traditional mediated & personal needssimultaneously
  • we are the message control, connections, and consciousness
  • cyborgs--------- of the --------social networks TIME SPACE PERCEPTION
  • ?
  • technological attachment
  • what’s next User’s perception of media effectsEthical issues in creation of idealized self Social learning community in curriculum Pedagogical values of SNS
  • THANK YOUMEDIA PERSPECTIVES:how social media reshape consciousness great plains alliance of computer and writing annual conference | nov. 9 2012 jason tham | st. cloud state university | jasontham.blog.com | @JasonCKTham