Today we discussed the task of writing an auto-ethnography to study our relations with technology we use, historical contexts were given. Here is a short plan….

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Auto-Ethnography Plan

Auto-Ethnography draft 1:

“Increasingly, the prevalence of screen media and technology are grasping a greater involvement and influence within our lives. I would argue that this not without implications or consequences. Firstly, I will mention a key figure in my studies by the name of Sherry Turkle. Cultural analyst, professor and author of “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2016). Turkle has made claims about the implications of our media use, “those little devices in our pockets, are so psychologically powerful that they don’t only change what we do, they change who we are.” (2:17). I agree with this argument completely, I have noticed that people’s usage and consumption of technology has increased dramatically over the last decade.

Growing up, I entertained myself with activities such as walking and scavenger hunting in the garden. When I was aged 10, I was given a Nokia mobile to play with. I used it for a period of time, playing ‘retro’ games such as Snake 2; until I ultimately lost interest and moved on to something newer. I remember buying my first phone, a Siemens A55. For me, it served as a small but substantial step into ‘Adulthood’; no longer was it just an occupier of time but it now became a symbol of my status and maturity. Years passed…so did phones; with technology growing more complex and offering a wider range of functions. Skip to now, I own an iPhone 6 which is near enough constantly on my person, it’s virtually attached to me. I have noticed (to my frustration) that I have developed a dependency for it, serving nearly every function required from a device. I have developed this compulsive gesture to constantly check my phone for updates or new information. Paying particular attention to a number of times I check my email in a day, I have recorded that on average, I check my device around 150 times a day. Despite this, I rarely empty my inbox due to distraction or (ironically) boredom. This is interesting because Nicholas Carr argued that decreased attention span was an indirect consequence of our consumption of media, “…Net seems to be chipping away at my capacity for concentration and contemplation.” (Carr, 2010). I believe that this is linked to my inability to complete tasks and the need for quick device checks.

This behaviour is not exclusive to any time or location but is triggered by things such as anxiety, boredom, or conformity. Turkle states that “Technology appeals to us most when we are most vulnerable” (12:07) and “…the moment that people are alone even for a few seconds, they become anxious, they panic, they fidget, they reach for a device.” (12:41) further substantiating my observations. Turkle explains this by stating that “…Being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved and so people try to solve it by connecting” (12:41). I would argue that today consumption of technology has become a cultural event, phenomenon such as Pokemon Go was a global fad, connecting people of all ages. I feel that this is closely linked to my constant need of technological interaction and inability to complete or stay focused on tasks. I mentioned this to members of my friends and they have said that they behave in similar ways, substantiating the link between technology and conformity/cultural interactions.”

Word count – 562


References:

Crary, J. (2013) 24/7: Terminal Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep. London:Verso, P1-18

Carr, N. (2010) ‘Hall and me’ from The Shallows, London: Altantic Books, P5-16

Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (2016) http://www.mit.edu. Available from:http://www.mit.edu/~sturkle/ [26 September 2016]

TED Conferences (2016) http://www.ted.com. Available from:https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together/transcript?language=en#t-827191 [Accessed 26 September 2016]

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