Technology & Its effect on my generation

What is it about us millennials and our constant need to be surrounded by technology?

There have been articles, books, newscasts and movies written, based on this topic. While everyone has their own opinions on technology’s effect on my generation, there are a few recurring ideas in these stories. The negative stories say that younger generations are spending less time outside, becoming less socially competent and lazier, and dumbing themselves down due to technology. The positive stories imply that technology has been beneficial to my generation in allowing us to be digitally proficient from a young age, communicate more easily through social networks and other channels, and gain an advantage that generations before us never had. While there are many more ideas that are tossed around in stories about millennials and our relationship with technology, these ideas were particularly prominent in my mind.

My opinion combines some negative and positive views about my generation and our technology addiction. I believe that we spend too much time on our smart phones and that we are losing our social skills, but I also believe that technology allows us to do more than we have ever been able to do before, therefore increasing our ability to prosper in life.

So my view on the issue is that we have to learn to use technology in the right ways. I think that social media, especially with the ease of use on the smart phone, is too prominent and should become less important to my generation. We are changing the way that people communicate with each other. I strongly believe that face-to-face communication is incredibly important, but as technology becomes more advanced, it becomes even easier to hide behind a screen. While I feel that social media is an issue, the speed of communication is an advantage. Email may be losing popularity among millennials, but it still helps when a phone call or meeting is not necessary to quickly transfer information.

Then there is the aspect of technology that allows us to do things that we never could have done before. The World Wide Web has allowed my generation to be able to gain a wealth of information in an instant. Twitter keeps people updated on important events. LinkedIn gives us the chance to put ourselves out there for jobs. We are so lucky to have things like this that make life easier for us and give us the chance to be more informed and productive with our time. Maybe millennials don’t take advantage of these aspects of technology enough, and should focus more on the ways that technology can help us instead of hold us back.

Alpha Meets Omega

- Or Tech in Dollhouse-

Mag (regarding the Dollhouse): They really thought they were helping, huh? Giving people what they needed. Is this what we needed?
Iris/Caroline: No. Kids playing with matches and they burnt the house down.

- Epitaph 1, Dollhouse

I find the relationship between tech and the supposed ‘human soul’ in Dollhouse to be…disconcerting. Perhaps it’s because, for the most part, Adelle thinks she’s doing good by ripping the personalities out of people and then using their empty husks as wish fulfillment for the rich. Or maybe it’s because sometimes I find myself agreeing with her, at least in some cases. (Most of those cases include helping the helpless or helping those in mourning.)

For the most part, the concept of a ‘dollhouse’ and ‘actives’ is one that terrifies me. For one, how does the person uploaded into a wedge know that Rossum will keep their word and release the active (with the correct memories) after five years? More than that question, though, I find the concept of personalities being interchangeable unnerving. To me, the soul and the personality are the same thing, and the remove one constitutes a crime against the very nature of humanity.

I think that, especially in Epitaph 1, this view becomes more common, especially when Rossum asks Adelle to offer eternal life, to sell the actives, and she refuses. It also affects Topher (who previously did not believe in a soul) in the form of guilt and mental illness, in response to the ‘army in an instant’ situation that resulted in the collapse of society. The problem is that it takes the extreme to make the administrators of the LA Dollhouse realize that their actions are fundamentally wrong.

Of course, this is probably intentional – as an exploration of what makes us human, as well as what humans would do with the technology that allows us to rip personalities out of a body and replace them with another, Dollhouse probably accurately recreates the ‘oh shit’ moment. People only ever seem to react to extremes, or when it’s too late.

What I do agree with, most definitely, is Caroline’s quote from Epitaph 1, listed above. The dollhouse is a box of matches, waiting to catch fire, as we see through the ‘memories’ left behind for Mag, Zone, Iris, and Whiskey to go through. (I only put memories in quotes because Joss Whedon has stated before that the memories may not be ‘actual’ – like the personalities routinely put into the dolls, they could be fabricated.) Technology in Dollhouse may be extreme, but it makes you think about how we currently use the tech available to us, and whether or not we are just children playing with matches.


Making Our Composing Process More Visible

I just finished reading Chapter 2 of Jody Shipka’s Toward a Composition Made Whole. In this chapter, titled “Partners in Action,” Shipka discusses how people have begun to take their thinking and composing processes for granted due to the useful tools that we call “technology.” She refers to tools we use, such as the telephone, and how we tend to forget all of the processes that go into making a phone call and being able to communicate with people. Her general point is that we need to go back to basics and think about everything that goes into completing tasks. For example, when working on a project, we should consider how we came up with our ideas and shaped them into a complete composition, such as sketching out ideas, brainstorming on paper, writing concrete rough drafts, reading aloud, peer editing, and much more. If we lose sight of these things, we start to only see the final product, but this may not even begin to represent everything that went into a work.

I think that in order to make our composing process more visible, we need to keep track of the original ideas that go into our final product. We should not forget all of the tools that we have used. We also need to consider how these “technologies” have shaped our works, whether for better or worse. The point that “We tend to move from ‘looking at the technology as an addition to life to looking at life through that technology’” is quite accurate. We forget that we are even using technology at all. Maybe then, it is important for us to keep a journal as Catherine Latterell suggests. This will remind us of how often we use these tools to shape our compositions, and that way, we will make visible the entire process that went into it. For example, I could account for all of the tools I used to write this post. I began with the physical book, I took notes on a piece of paper using a pen, and I used my laptop to pull up a word document to write a draft. All of these tools shaped my process.

Shipka’s ideas are extremely representative of how composing has become. We need to take a step back sometimes and look at everything that affects our thinking process. We should especially take into consideration which technologies are changing our lives in general.

Mind the Tech

- Or How To Properly Acknowledge Your Tech -

“Once [technology] becomes ‘woven into the fabric of daily life’ every once-new technology seems natural, and therefore somehow ‘inevitable,’ and it becomes tough to imagine living in the world without it.”

-Jodi Shipka

We’re back, ladies and gents, to talking about technologies and how they impact writing. Specifically, I would like to focus on the fact that we don’t really ‘see’ the technologies we take for granted, and how lecture-like this post is sounding.

Let’s change that.

So, while struggling perusing through Jodi Shipka’s book, Toward a Composition Made Whole, I was struck by the above quote. Do we really not notice the technologies we use once they become common place? Certainly, it does become harder to imagine a world without, say, desktop computers. But how can we not be fully aware of the technology we use and how it limits or improves the way we work?

Shipka provides a compelling example to back this statement up: If you were to call one of your friends, you likely would simply describe the event as “I called up El and screamed about space for an hour” (well, maybe not that dramatic, but, hey). You would not sit down and list out the reasons that call was made possible. For example, you likely would not say, “Thanks to electricity, phone lines, cables, a dial tone, ring tones,a numbered key pad, etc., coupled with the fact that the person I was calling and I are both fluent in the English language…” and both have an appreciation for space and functional knowledge of it’s basic structure, as well as both being invested in space, I was able to call El and scream about space for an hour.

So, quite literally, you would gel over the fact that electricity and technologies that go into phones helped you accomplish a task. In that sense, I do believe that we have a tendency to forget about the role of technology in our day to day lives. I do think it’s important to realize this, and maybe spend some time thinking about how each technology we take for granted affect our ability to function in the world we live in. I also agree with Shipka’s observation that, were we to take the time to think about how we use technology, and how it affects not only our writing, but how our bodies are involved in our writing, it can help us imagine new ways of thinking about ‘texts.’

There is one thing I disagree with, however, and that is the idea that technology completely fades into the background. Now, I am speaking mostly about writing ‘tools’ – pens, paper, word processors, mobile devices – and not the things that power them, so perhaps my idea is a tad limited. But I feel as though I am constantly reminded of how technology influences my writing. When I write with pen and paper, I am always aware that my chosen tool is slower and less precise than my word processor. When working with Microsoft Word (and, therefore, procrastinating on the internet), I feel as if I can’t write anything and am wasting my time. Perhaps I do not notice the tool itself, but I do recognize it’s effects; I think everyone, in some way, recognizes the effects of a tools they use when producing texts. Or, perhaps, I am simply optimistic about the amount I think about the technology in my life in relation to how others think about their own tools.