Electronic communication has expanded over the course of history. The idea that people are able to be connected though different forms of media, whether it be though the telegraph or text messaging. As Volti states in chapter two, “technological changes, both major and minor, often lead to a restructuring of power relations, the redistribution of wealth and income, and the alteration of human relationships,” with the last effect being the most important in the influence of human behavior (Volti, 2011, Winners and Losers, 2). Social relationships and human behavior are intertwined, especially people’s desires for attention. Today, “there have never been more ways to communicate with one another” (Baym, 2015, New forms of personal connection, 1). Therefore, there are even greater opportunity to enhance relationships and alter how we are perceived. However, with the more ways to communicate and the ever-increasing capability to store information, there is a decrease in the need for memory and an increase in the need for attention from others.
Human behavior is affected by electronic media in the way that people feel lonelier now than they have in the past and they desire to be liked by others. Baym says that “the rise of visible social media metrics, such as followers, likes, retweets, subscribers, shares, and so on can become a measure of self-worth,” which impacts the emotions of society (Baym, 2015, New relationships, new selves, 140). This showcases the aspect of desire to be liked that has become embedded into human behavior.
In the “Black Mirror” episode, titled Nosedive, society rates others and this rating is what structures social classes. The desire to be rated highly and to earn a high ranking has led people to present themselves differently, both in person and online. The main character has become obsessed with her ranking that one bad review made her confront the person. However, she realizes that she must remain calm because if she were to go any further in the confrontation, then she could get an even lower review or someone could be watching her and post another bad ranking. This ranking system, though, has led the main character to do whatever she can to get the highest ranking. This is the way that most of this society thinks, the higher the ranking, the better the opportunities and the better the person.
Another impact of electronic media that has altered human behavior is the aspect of loneliness. People have become lonely even though they are more connected than ever before. The clip, “The Innovation of Loneliness” depicts the creation of loneliness. The narrator says that social media is one reason why loneliness has become part of today’ society because people need to devote their time to their followers and improving their profiles to build reputations to be involved in personal promotion. With this, the narrator also says that “we get to edit, which means we get to delete” and this has a major impact on how we can present ourselves through social media platforms. Since human behavior has become driven by attention, the ability to alter what is posted gives the power to the poster to receive the most attention possible. He also says that “we’re sacrificing conversation for mere connection” which creates a paradox in which we “claim to have many friends while actually being lonely,” therefore, people would rather have a greater number of friends than having ones that are true friends, which is why they find themselves being lonely. The aspect of human behavior of being lonely is attributed to the emotional aspect of human behavior. Being lonely is something that has become more common in a world where electronic media is supposed to bring people together.
“Black Mirror” is available through Netflix, follow the link to sign up: https://www.netflix.com
Follow the link below to watch the “The Innovation of Loneliness”:
Here is a quote from “The Innovation of Loneliness,” the photo, which describes the many people who use social media today.
A major concern that has been carried from the past to today is the idea of moral panic. Baym describes moral panic as “anxieties over uncontrollable social forces become the focus of efforts to understand a new cultural trend” (Baym, 2015, Making new media make sense, 49). In the eighteen hundreds, with the invention of the telegraph, people were worried about how this would impact relationships in business. Before the telegraph, the only way to do business was travelling and going face-to-face with a client. As presented in Carey’s “Technology and Ideology: The Case of the Telegraph”, the aftermath of the telegraph and railroads has created a “new form of organization of essentially impersonal relations” (Carey, 2009, Technology and Ideology, 4). This invention of the telegraph influenced the way that business was handled and therefore, the worry that business would be completely altered and perhaps in a negative way. Later, it was the fear that the telegraph would be a negative invention for women. As one woman accepted a marriage proposal over the telegraph and turning down the man that was waiting for her in the bar (Marvin, 1988, Community and Class Order, 73). This changed human behavior because the hand of a woman became a race to whoever was able to ask her first instead of the process of being in person and asking for marriage. This also impacted the confidence of men. The man on the telegraph did not have to worry about looking the woman in the eye, whereas the man who was asking in person would have to work up the courage to ask the woman, and in the case Marvin presented, the man who took longer to work up the courage missed his chance to the man with the telegraph. The idea of relationships over the telegraph also worried the fathers of the women. Marvin says “traditional courtship protected traditional young women from inappropriate advances by placing insurmountable obstacles in the path of all but the most devoted swains” (Marvin, 1988, Community and class order, 71). Therefore, the idea of having relationships over the telegraph was a fear of these fathers and therefore, the moral panic surrounding the telegraph had to do with women and the new capabilities that the telegraph offered in shaping human behavior and the desire for relationships.
An aspect of moral panic that arose in the 1950s had to do with the television. Similarly, to the telegraph, people feared this new invention, mostly because they did not understand it, but knew it had capabilities never seen before. The New York Times wrote on the ways that people were affected by the television sets. One man, “shot his television set…because it was murdering his sleep,” which demonstrates how people in the 1950s were worried about the television and the impact the television had in their everyday life (New York Times, 1952, Obviously Self-Defense, 31). Human behavior was influenced by the introduction of the television. People became suspicious of their televisions and feared the capabilities which turned people to be irate and violent.
The original New York Times article is posted below:
Electronic media, is one way that people stay connected. Part of human behavior is being curious and wanting to know everything. I am a highly nosy person and so when I had to go eight hours without using any technology, I struggled to maintain my high level of curiosity. For example, I explain how “My morning briefing of what I missed in the sports world, as well as the political landscape has become part of my everyday routine” and the day I was unable to maintain these connections, I felt left out of conversations and I felt one step behind all day (Orlosky, 2017, Eight Hours Without Technology, 2). Also in this paper, I had a conversation with my mom about her teenage years and what she would not be able to go eight hours without. Her response, a car. Similar to the telegraph, a car increased your ability to communicate with other people. Without the car, in her social group she said that meant “our social life would not exist for that day,” and they would be left out, similarly to how I felt left out without having my phone (Orlosky, 2017, Eight Hours Without Technology, 5). Both her experience and my experience showcase the human behavior of fitting in and not being lonely. In my case, if I knew the news, then I could be involved in communication and was not left out. My mom had a similar feeling, without the car, she was unable to interact with her friends and thus, was lonely.
Human behavior has been altered by the inclusion of new media and technology in society. This can be seen in the 1800s and 1900s with the introduction of the telegraph and the television. This is also noticed in present society with the addition of the mobile phone and the various applications on these devices. People have gotten much more impatient with one another and expect certain responses from others, including quick responses to messages and the attention in the form of likes or ratings. People’s attention spans today have also diminished. The episode of “Black Mirror” defined what I think about the way that society has become today. People are constantly looking for shares and likes to receive gratification. In my opinion, I don’t need to post everything I do because the people I want to see my posts are often those who I do the experience with or are people that I see often, so I could tell them in person rather than having to post on social media.