This week's readings are extremely relevant for understanding contemporary public discourse. Cultural elements are among the most important topics discussed, along with the ways in which social media has altered communication as a whole. Social media, social networks and social networking sites have shifted the ways in which information is dispersed and discussed.
I agree with James Carey's article, "A Cultural Approach to Communication," on many levels. Carey highlights the failed ways in which we continue to communicate. He says that rituals take place of culture in the communication process, which harbors thoughts of power and control rather than the communal aspect he feels is important to the process. All you have to do is turn on cable news or look at your Facebook newsfeed to see that this is the truth. Every opinion is pretty much one-sided and/or biased for one argument over the other, which only offers the reader that particular side. This makes it difficult for readers to decipher for themselves which parts of the argument are upheld by the unbiased truth. This article resonated with me the most because of the "fake news" epidemic. This "fake news" took place before, during and after the 2016 presidential election. This flawed information further deteriorates social media as a tool of communication. Carey's article can be found here.
Questions After Reading:
- What can we do to replace ritualistic communication with culture-based communication?
- Why do we rely so heavily on science rather than data which allows for a broader understanding of other people's cultures?
Danah Boyd and Nicole Ellison's article, "Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship," explains how scholars are reviewing social networking sites now more than ever. This was no surprise to me. With millions of people currently engaged in dialogues via social media, it is necessary for researchers to take a closer look. The influence of these social networking sites is astounding, and it is important to understand how to use it as an effective tool of communication. I agree with them that it is important to study the engagement aspect of such sites. This helps with future research on the topic as well, offering a greater understanding of the ways in which friends (and strangers) meet and interact on these social networking sites. This reading made me think about how many complete strangers with which I am connected on my networking sites and what motivates these connections. Click here to read the entire article.
Boyd continues the preceding thoughts in her article, "Social Media: A Phenomenon to be Analyzed." She offered me a new way of thinking about such a large issue. The fact that many people in the 1990's and the early 2000's only used the web as a way of checking emails and browsing forced me to realize how new the social media phenomenon really is. Within the last decade, social media has gained momentum and influence and become the way in which many people communicate. This is reason enough, in my opinion, to further research the social media users' motives and interactions.
Boyd's article, "Making Sense of Teen Life," was most relatable for me. I completely agree that the age of technology has most affected people around my age. We do not know what life is like without having a smartphone nearby which offers us instant access to the internet. I never thought about it on the level of tracking a younger person's behaviors online and what a problem that may be; according to Boyd, younger people care about internet privacy and the trail they leave while engaged. This makes it more difficult to examine.
All of the readings made me anxious to learn more about the motivations behind our social networking and our social media interactions. I am looking forward to learning more about emerging media and how they will shift the dynamics of mass communication.