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How Things Used to Be

Jazmin Sagastiverza
How things used to be

“I often worry that my idea of personhood is nostalgic, irrational, and inaccurate.” Like Zadie Smith, I also feel estranged from the past ideas of friendship and personal connection. This can be attributed to a number of factors; however, the most influential one being the evident yet scarily rapid pace at which technology is developing. Being part of the generation that was/is at the culmination of the technological boom has allowed me to compare the vague memories I hold on to so dearly of how the world used to be without “instant” anything. There was no online shopping, library card catalogs (though not common) were a very valued part of my educational upbringing, “instant messages” existed only as a literal and nonsensical term and cell phones were luxuries that appeared in movies or in the hands of very wealthy business professionals. Although part of me misses the slow, patient process of obtaining information,  the college student in me would never be able to return to how things used to be.

Today, the term “social media” has assumed a position in the most overwhelming sense. It is everywhere and has taken on a form that is completely altering the way in which consumers, audiences and producers interact. In fact the line that used to so clearly distinguish the three is blurred. In his essay “The People Formerly Known as the Audience”, Jay Rosen alludes to the many aspects of technology that, unlike Smith’s idea of social media, have contributed to the empowerment of the public voice. “Once they were your printing presses; now that humble device, the blog, has given the press to us.” This seemingly simple statement contains years of technological development that refer to that “blurred line” I previously mentioned. Blogs now give audiences the power to create their own” freedom of speech” rules without the heavy publishing labels or regulations. All-in-all, I’m not rooting for technology but I’m not knocking it either, after all, I have already compulsively checked my Facebook page twice while writing this paper. Bashing social media would only make me a hypocrite, what kind of technology boom baby would I be if I didn’t actively partake in the current media opportunities bestowed before me?

2 comments

  1. I also remember those times where the idea of instant messaging seemed to be part of a scene from “Star Trek” or a futuristic movie of some sort. What has become of personal communication? As college students we no longer go to our friend’s rooms to see where they are, we just text them asking them about their whereabouts. I feel that so many people are used to hiding behind their devices; and when in comes to personal interaction, they no longer know what to do.
    Like you, I would feel like a hypocrite if I said that I didn’t like these advances in technology; but some face to face conversation is always a plus.

  2. I really liked the point you made about how you hold on to your memories so dearly because its often times hard for us to remember how the world was before all the “instant” everything. I too have very faint memories and remember a few times where I had to go look something up in an actual book, now I just go to google and have the answer in 3 seconds. I also agree with missing the part of obtaining information in the old school way BUT now we are so used to all the instant everything it would almost be impossible to go back. Blogs really do give people that freedom of speech and I of course also cant knock social media because then who would I be? I do think people now a days use it in excess; maybe the key here is any kind of moderation? really good job

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