Daily Archives: February 8, 2010

A watched society

I am now entering my second full-fledged week of my New Media course, and I have found the course to be both interesting and challenging. Oddly enough, the challenge for me lies in the amount of monitoring I feel by participating in this course. First, I had to get a blog.

“What?! Write my thoughts and feelings online for everyone to see?” I asked myself. “Isn’t a blog essentially an online diary? If so, I remember keeping a lock on those things as a child because the purpose was to keep everyone OUT!”

But oddly, these days, technology seems to invite everyone IN. The ease with which people exchange pictures, videos, comments, posts, blogs, information, articles, thoughts, etc. is astounding. Think about it. In an ordinary month (or even week), how many photos of your life have you posted on to some site for others to see (Facebook, flickr)? How many times have you had some sort of personal exchange with a friend that others could monitor (Hello! Writing on people’s Facebook wall!)?

The big question remains for me -why are we making these exchanges (blogs, Facebook posts, pictures) so public?! Sure – privacy settings exist, thankfully, but if we want to send a note to our friend that we miss them and want to see them, why don’t we send them an email or call them? Why do we put it out there for others to see? Why do we blog our thoughts and feelings so that all of our friends and families can read it? Is this narcissism or interconnectivity? If it’s the later, are we narcissistic because we think so many people want to be connected to us? What are the implications of this “watched” society that we are creating for ourselves in a virtual space? Fear not – I’m preaching to the choir. I engage in all of these behaviors, but I want to know why I do! Remember, I am a social psychologist which means I long to understand what motivates humans to engage in certain behaviors.

For myself, I am slowly getting used to the high levels of monitoring that exist online. I fought getting a Facebook account for several years, and now I have one and communicate on it regularly. I am now (mostly) comfortable with the insane number of photos tagged of me on Facebook. But now I face new levels of monitoring that I am uncomfortable with. For instance, this blog is an adjustment. Why should people be able to read my thoughts? Why would anyone care to? Also, the other day in class we had to record videos of ourselves discussing passages from a book on our iPod Nano. Why must I be documented and permanently archived in video form? I prefer my ramblings/thoughts to exist only in their purest and briefest form – while discussing them. But then I suppose you could ask what this says about me. Either way, I am intrigued to see where I end up at the end of this class. More importantly, however, I am still left with these two questions – 1) why do we engage in such a “watched society” and 2) what are the implications of this society that we are creating for ourselves?