13 January 2013
As I have logged my Internet use over the past 72 hours. I have come to realize the influence the Internet has on my day-to-day life. The Internet is apart of my life from the second I open my eyes in the morning and grab my iPhone to check the Facebook posts, tweets, emails, news, and sports notifications that I had missed out on from the second I closed my eyes the night before. Although the Internet holds a great deal of value in my life and also serves as a major distractions. Throughout the rest of this essay I will compare the log I kept of my Internet use with some of the blurred boundaries that Nancy Baym discussed in her book, “Personal Connections in the Digital Age”.
One blurred boundary that Baym discusses in her book in this idea of interactivity. The blurred boundary that arouses with interactivity is this idea of weather we are interacting with others (social interaction) or reading the texts that other people have provided on the Internet (textural interaction. For me the Internet enables me to interact with my family and friends that live away from Kansas. If it weren’t for the Internet I probably would have lost touch with a lot of my family and friends that do not live in the Midwest. There were multiple times over the past 72 hours that I had the opportunity to talk to my friends in different parts of the country thanks to Facebook on my laptop and iPhone.
Another blurred boundary that Baym discussed in her book was temporal structure. She broke temporal structure into two separate categories synchronous, messages that occur in real time and asynchronous communication, messages that are separated by time. Most of my communication through the day between my friends and professors is synchronous, since I am either texting through iMessage via wireless Internet, or chatting with friends through Facebook chat. This is influential because it makes the conversation seem that much more personable when the communication is virtually instant. It allows me to feel more like I am talking to the person face-to-face.
Throughout my day on the Internet when I am communicating with my friends and family it is difficult to pick up on an social cues, which is another blurred boundary that Baym discusses. Social cues such as body movement and facial expressions are impossible to pick up when I am chatting with these individuals, so I have to rely on things like current location that the chat provides to gain some sense of where the individual is at and what kinds of non-verbal cues they are demonstrating.
When I am using Facebook storage and replicability have a major influence on what I say, which are two more blurred boundaries that Baym points to in her book. Storage and replicability is referring to how much of the information you are communicating is kept and how long is it stored for. I rarely post on friends wall however, when I do I make sure that I do not sound like a complete idiot and the that the content of my message would not offend any other of my friends that have access to my newsfeed or the newsfeed of the person I am interacting with. The reason for this is if I say something obnoxious or insulting someone could easily repost that information or save it on their computer to hold against me in the future. However, if I am chatting with someone it is usually just between that person and me and most likely our chat box will be deleted after our conversation is finished.
Another blurred boundary discussed by Baym is reach, which is the amount of people your message reaches. Thanks to the Internet I am able to get my thoughts and concerns out to thousands of people on twitter and Facebook with just the click of the mouse or the tap of a finger if I am using my mobile device. However when I am emailing my professors questions about their class, my reach is very low because to my knowledge they only receive my email. It is important to consider the reach of your messages, especially if you are relaying personal or private information.
A final blurred boundary that Baym discusses is mobility. With todays cell phone technology as well as the spread of wireless Internet through out America, our Internet use is becoming increasingly mobile. I can check out the score of the game, tweet, Facebook, or send various forms of messages all through my iPhone. The only time I technically cannot access the Internet is if I am in an area with no Wi-Fi or service, which is quite rare.
Throughout the day, there are times when an individual may think they are absent from the Internet, however, they are still engaged they are just not starring at the screen of a phone or a computer participating in the blogging or chatting. A good example of this is online chats nowadays that report a person online through their cellular device. Some individuals may view this as absence of an individual from the Internet at that time where another individual may view that person as present and ready to chat. In reality that person is present and absent at the same time, especially if they have they mobile device set up to receive notification. This is definitely the case for me because I am constantly hearing my phone buzz throughout class with Facebook, twitter, and ESPN updates.
There stands a clear relationship between the self and body in this type of interaction. For example if someone is sitting at a dinner table with their family and texting a group of their friends through a group chat, their mind is clearly with in the context of the conversation they are having with their friends yet their physical body is sitting around a dinner table with their family. I constantly find myself in these situations, especially when I am sitting in the room with all my roommates chatting with my friends via text or Facebook chat.
When it comes to controlling and being controlled by our communication on the Internet I feel there is a fine line. Some people waste hours open hours of their day staring at their phones messaging other people and reading the messages that other individuals have directed towards them or the public. For some people it is truly and addition, hence terms such as crack berry that society has coined to individuals who cannot set their mobile devices on. However I feel an individual like myself is fairly good about controlling the amount of time I am spending on the Internet, especially in terms of my phone.
When dealing with today’s technology it is interesting to see the amount of personal communication that is down over a mass medium. From my perspective this type of communication looks like an individual trying to gain attention from outsiders. Things such as breakups and fights among peers in my opinion should take place behind closed doors and not for the public to see, which is a great example of how the private and public intermingle in online communication. When people make their drama public on the Internet, weather it is intentional or not, it is bringing the public into the situation.
In today’s world, with online communication becoming more popular every day, many individuals are confused about what is real and virtual. My opinion on the matter is that if the individual would act in the same way they are communicating on the internet with another person in real life then the line between virtual and real is wiped away, however, if the individual is acting a manor that would seem foreign to those who know them in real life it indeed is virtual.
After logging and reflecting my use of the Internet over a 72-hour period I have realized my dependency on the Internet and the many opportunities it has created for me to keep in touch with long distance family and friends. Although many people after reflecting on their internet use over a 72 hour period may feel they