Participatory Culture

In regards to my own modes of participation one quote from the Schafer (p. 38) reading perfectly sums it up: “…the statistics on the use of Internet and social media do not indicate a large number of users being actively involved in revolutionary upheaval but rather e-mailing, using search engines, watching videos, shopping online, updating their profile on social networking sites and interacting with peers.”  Although I use the Internet/World Wide Web (WWW) for school, and work, there is a lot of abuse, and a huge lack of meaningful contribution, communication, and collaboration.  As a child I remember my use being very limited, but as technology rapidly developed my use continued to grow as well. Today, now with portable devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops), and Wi-Fi readily available everywhere, I find myself connected all the time.  I am involved in multiple digital practices (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etc.) but for entertainment, leisure, and often a distraction leading to procrastination (mostly when doing homework during the school year).

Although, I believe there are a lot of pros in use of the Internet, and World Wide Web there are a lot more cons. Technology has made many individuals incapable of disconnecting, unplugging themselves from the digital world for long periods of time; I am guilty myself while on vacation going on my phone, or on my computer to check social media applications for updates.  There has also been many instances where I have been out with my friends, and they pull out their phones to browse these applications applications as well; use of these applications is ruining one’s ability to function, and socialize face-to-face without being connected at the same time.

I also believe this type of participation removes the personal touch.  For example, this is my first online course, but I am unsure about how I feel.  Yes, I like the convenience of being able to do my work on my own time, from the comfort of my bed, and using social media applications, but I still feel the need for face-to-face interaction.  I personally learn better in a classroom, hearing the professor speak, with a slideshow presentation, notes, and discussion/question time with peers.  Those interactions I find more valuable, and more likely to remember than something that is occur over the Internet/WWW.

On the other hand though the participation in these applications can be beneficial; the Internet/WWW makes the world a smaller place by diminishing access barriers, and allows the small voices to be heard along with the big voices. For example, recently in the news the hashtag #bringbackourgirls has been trending on Facebook, and Twitter; use of this hashtag along with every day people has been used by big names, such as First Lady Michelle Obama.  This hashtag is being used in support of finding the missing school girls that were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria.  Although, I am personally on the fence about how a simple hashtag on social media applications can bring back these school girls this is a good example of meaningful contribution, communication, and collaboration; social media spread can like wildfire, and in this case has, putting pressure on the hierarchy (government) to do something about the issue at hand with the power they hold.

In conclusion, I believe the obsession needs to stop, and their needs to be more meaningful use. Sadly though as stated in the Schafer article (p. 38) “social media users are…another audience for advertising, but also a crowd of helping hands in distributing the commercial messages”; therefore society’s meaningless use is feeding/benefiting these technologies  by providing more outlets for advertisements, and spreading them, and the hierarchy does not necessarily need their meaningful use.  Technology dictates society, and by society using it, it continues this vicious circle.

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