All Together Now?!

Technology, Culture & Society

Over the last few weeks I have learned a considerable amount about the importance of identifying and understanding the “public”.

In Lisa Gitelman’s article Always Already New, we are introduced to what would become one of the first communication tools and how it changed the understanding of a public.

Within Gitelmans’s article she identifies the expertise of Michael Warner, the author of the book “Publics and counterpublics” whose ideas have shifted the way we identify our publics.

In his book, Warner identifies how fundamentally important the role of a public is and how that role has shifted with the introduction of new technologies. The “stranger” connection, an idea identified by Warner was also a hot topic brought up in our class last week!

With the accessibility to social media platforms we are able to connect with individuals who we know absolutely nothing about (other than the fact that they “like” cats too!)

This new type of ‘stranger’ connection is unlike anything we have encountered before.

This international connection seems like a remarkable technological breakthrough, yet I am slightly concerned. Can we really connect with people via social media or do we all simply exist within our specific bubble, never interacting with one another?

This made me consider my own relationships on social media. How many of the 1104 friends can I really contact if I need them? The reality is that the number is probably very small. This makes you think about the ultimate existence of social media. Most of the real-life connections we make on Facebook are with people who we have previously met at some point in our lifetime. Must we be so connected to people we know nothing about and may never contact?

It seems that even though we are all connected in some manner we may be just as alone as ever.

(This may not be as related to our topics but I thought the fact that we have the ability to be who we want through social media is an important factor!)

Of course I have a TED example 🙂

Sherri Turkle presented a TED talk on the topic of being globally connected yet being more alone than ever. Turkle discusses the idea of how our culture is so dependent on technology making us avoid face-to-face interactions. Through technology (Facebook, e-mail, Twitter) we are able to create a portrait of ourselves in whatever manner we choose. Technology allows for an “edit” tool which we all know life doesn’t have (I wish it did).

Our technologically immersed society drives us to fear being alone, forcing individuals to retreat to their mobile device. Look around any public place, the majority of people are on their phone! Can this be a “real connection”? Turkle argues that “technology is no substitute for real life conversation, because human connection – the experience of truly understanding others – can only be found in the real world. And only through having such rich interactions with others can we reflect and learn more about ourselves.”

One final TED quote by Sherri Turkle….

“The people who experience loneliness on Facebook are lonely away from Facebook, too…on Facebook, as everywhere else, correlation is not causation. The popular kids are popular, and the lonely skulkers skulk alone. What does Facebook communicate, if not the impression of social bounty? Everybody else looks so happy on Facebook, with so many friends, that our own social networks feel emptier than ever in comparison.”



Gitelman, L., & Pingree, G. B. (January 01, 2003). BOOK REVIEWS – COLLECTIONS – New Media,  1740-1915. Isis, 94, 4, 792.

Warner, M. (January 01, 2002). Publics and Counterpublics. Public Culture, 14, 1.)

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3 Responses to All Together Now?!

  1. mlalpr says:

    I really liked the last paragraph in particular, Jess!
    What does Facebook communicate, if not the impression of social bounty? Everybody else looks so happy on Facebook, with so many friends, that our own social networks feel emptier than ever in comparison.”

    How many times have you gone on Facebook to look someone up because they have done the ‘coolest’ stuff you have EVER seen?
    It’s funny how a social media website that connects people can make us judge people even more than we need to and bring us apart. Not only have we made comments under our breath but we probably also have times where we wished we were some of those ‘friends’ on FB.

    Social media is a great site to keep in touch with your friends, but what about the connections you make to people you really don’t know? Are these really worth the online relationship that you share with them when you let them in to your whole life on a timeline?
    hmmmm, tres risky!

    • Thanks for the response Monika!
      It makes you wonder why we use social media at all!! Do I really care about 80% (or higher) of the people on my friend list?
      I wonder how many people on your social media site really want to get to know YOU, or are they just attracted to the person you portay on Facebook?

      Curiousity killed the cat!!!

  2. elizabethccross says:

    Nice post, Jess! I agree with many of your points, as well as Monika’s. Although I think all of us could say that we interact on social media everyday, how often do we actually contemplate how many of them are our actual friends? Take your birthday for example. If you’re having a party you’re not literally going to invite 1000+ friends. Imagine! I know my place wouldn’t even fit one tenth of that. It’s likely that you’re going to have anywhere from eight to 30 actual close friends that you mingle with on a regular basis. So, why all the friends on Facebook? Why does our society feel the need to have an abundance of ‘friends’ online?


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