Sunday, April 7, 2013

Guilty as Charged

Vincent Miller's "New Media, Networking and Phatic Culture" explores a new phenomena in online communications where the number of networks and friends is more important than the actual content itself. This concept of individualization as popularized by Giddens and Beck is "non-linear, open ended and highly ambivalent" in nature and focuses on building relationships and maintaining social bonds. 

Miller states that one aspect which is particularly important is self-disclosure in online communications when building relationships. There's a shift of increasing willingness to "tell all" or "expose oneself"making the individual herself/himself the priority. People are no longer getting online to obtain information with substance but merely keep connected with friends and share personal pictures and status updates. 

After thinking about my personal use of the internet over the last decade I think Miller's concept is pretty accurate. We've discussed in class how "open" facebook has become where it's no longer used for holding back and forth conversations with your close friends via each other's walls but common to be friends with your co-workers, distant relatives and even businesses. It seems that my daily newsfeed is full of links, videos, photos and no longer actual communications. 

To prove this point even further, I went back to my history on facebook and found I'm guilty as charged in this phatic culture. 

Screen shot of my wall in 2006 when conversations dominated my activity on Facebook.

Screen shot of my wall today (2013).
I admit that I no longer use Facebook walls to communicate. I've reverted back to private messages and personal e-mails to contact my friends.  While looking for other information to see if I'm part of the norm, I found two very interesting graphics. The first supports the idea of a phatic culture showing that 3,000 images are posted to facebook every second which equals 250 million photos a day!

Second, with all this personal information being uploaded for the world to see, I definitely think there might be a backlash in years to come with personal privacy. This is something that Miller does not touch upon but I feel is very important to consider. I don't think social media hasn't been around long enough to see the long term effects. In thinking of our future CEO's and presidents of the United States that are in high school now, think of the challenge they will have when the press and opponents go to dig up dirt, photos and quotes to manipulate. Michael C of Yale Law & Technology wrote an insightful article about the evolution of privacy on Facebook and featured this infographic which shows the increase availability of your personal data on Facebook. 

Kind of scary for a society that is so caught up in "me, me, me" but maybe I'm more on the paranoid side of this phatic culture? 

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