Thank God for my man JG

“If art was the first great development in communication, language the second, and writing the third, the next epochal transformation was touched off in fifteenth-century Europe when a craftsman named Johannes Gutenburg perfected a machine for moveable type.” -Blur, Kovach and Rosenstiel

Imagine a world without the invention of the printing press. It’s nearly impossible. Its beyond my creative capacities to imagine what the world would look like without books, pamphlets, but more importantly journalism, or public opinion.

Had the printing press not been invented, the spread of information would not be feasible. With this spread of information came the notion that people can be self governing. With the notion that a population can be self governing stems the entire root of Western Civilization: democracy. The printing press gave us democracy. Let that sink in for a second. Democracy. The entirety of our society. Democracy. Printing Press. Thank God for Johannes Gutenburg.

Throughout the history of the world, there have been roughly 7 world changing, groundbreaking, life altering transformations in communication leading up to were we are today. These include the written word, the printing press, the telegraph, the radio, the television and newspapers, cable and continuous news, and finally digital technology and consumer choice.

Simply put, the rise of the Internet is like the falling of dominos. From 2000 to 2008 the increase in Internet use makes me dizzy. Here’s some fast facts compiled by Kovach and Rosentiel, the authors of Blur:

  • In 2000, only 46% of adults in the US used the Internet. By 2008, 74% did.
  • In 2000, only 5% had high-speed Internet at home. By 2008, 58% did.
  • In 2000, only 50% of Americans owned a cell phone. By 2008, 82% did.
  • In 2000, no one in America was wirelessly connected to the Internet. By 2008, 62% were.

And to think that these statistics are 6 years old. In just a decade and a half, society has completely made the switch to having access to news everywhere, anytime. The problem, however, is with the access of information available to virtually anyone, how can we know what we’re reading is reliable? Because Lord knows, you should believe everything you read on the Internet. 


If it’s not FBO, did it really happen?

If a girl goes to Starbucks and does’t post an Instagram picture of her drink, did she really go? If two people start dating but never change their relationship status on Facebook, are they really a couple? If you post a shameless selfie but your best friend doesn’t ‘like’ it within the first 10 minutes, are they a true friend? Adding another dimension to human relationships such as social media, makes every relationship with even the tiniest presence online infinitely more complicated.

Posting relationships to Facebook is something our parents didn’t have to think or stress about. The general fact that this article even has to exist is sad:

Having “friends” online, yet also having my real friends online does create a complexity to the existing relationship. You have to be careful what you post. What if I forget to invite Suzie Q to the party but she sees pictures of everyone else there? What if Suzie Q and I are chatting over a timeline post and she interprets something in the wrong way? Communication over a screen is not legitimate. It can be so hard to understand tone of voice, facial expression, sarcasm, excitement, etc when all you see is text on a screen. We lose the ability to have real human interactions, something fundamental to human nature. People are becoming increasingly more uncomfortable when they have to speak in person or talk over the phone because it is so much easier to type it out. A lot of people are even more open or willing to share things of a personal nature when they don’t actually have to say it out loud.

Since the social media craze, I am inclined to look at the word ‘friend’ in a new light. I have 1,158 friends on Facebook, yet I probably only regularly communicate with 50 of them. I see the value in a real human relationship, interacting in person, talking face to face, and experiencing memories together. I think a lot of people in my generation are only taking the word ‘friend’ at its surface value. They get too caught up in trying to capture a picture of the moment to show all of their “friends” so that they can get a lot of “likes” but what they don’t realize is the importance of actually living out those experiences with the people around you.

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So, back to my initial questions. If something happens that isn’t posted, tweeted about, or put on someone’s Snapchat story, did it really happen? Well.. yes, but none of your “friends” will know about it. However, you’re true friends will and thats all that really matters, right? Why are we getting so wrapped up trying to make our lives look so incredible to strangers, weird kids from high school, distant family, and other randoms? That’s a good question, and something that I am guilty of as well. We all are.

Push Notifications up the Wazoo

23 iMessages, 7 emails from 3 different accounts, 6 Facebook notifications, 8 Snapchats, 3 Twitter notifications, and 17 GroupMe messages. I left my phone stagnant for 2 hours. That little red push notification is about to drive me up the wall. I am completely immersed in a digital world and there is nothing I can do to get out. I mean, I guess I could throw my phone against the wall; however even that wouldn’t do anything because my waterproof, dust proof, shock roof, Life Proof case would save it. Thank goodness. Not. 

Feeling overwhelmed is an understatement. The part that is most unsettling to me is when adults from an older generation say something like, “I know how yScreen Shot 2014-09-09 at 6.21.07 PMou feel, I was in college once too” when I tell them I’m stressed out. Um, no you don’t!

Did you have a device constantly buzzing in your pocket demanding responses immediately? Did you have to learn to ‘multitask on steroids’ to the point that everything you can do at once is almost super human?  Did you have the stress of dealing with uncooperative technology when trying to finish an assignment? Did you have to constantly check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, email, text messages not only because you’re addicted to it but because that’s how people nowadays communicate? I don’t think so. 

However the point is, I’d be lost without it. I suffer from FOMO disease – fear of missing out. Once everything is said and done, all of my responsibilities are fulfilled for the day, my hair is washed, my teeth are brushed, it’s time for me to go to bed. The problem is, I lay down and stare at a bright screen for probably an hour before I even think of putting it down and sleeping. I have to make sure I didn’t miss anything throughout the day. From this FOMO disease in which I  self diagnosed, stemmed another common disease, TOMA – turned off my alarm. Because I lay in bed for hours staring at a screen, I don’t get much sleep and therefore cannot get up in the morning. I turn off my alarm, which is on my iPhone resting comfortably in bed with me, and end up waking up minutes before I have to be somewhere.

There is no turning back now. Now that I have made the leap into the digital world it is nearly impossible for me to even take a peek backwards. Middle ground is a thing of the past, it’s all hands on deck for this girl.

A Teenager’s Bias to Today’s Media

Mattie Smyth is the name, social media is my game. To be honest, I found myself in this Journalism 215 Introduction to Mass Communication Technology as a prerequisite to more advanced classes within the Journalism, Media, and Computing Department at Creighton University.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had an interest in communication. Whether that is brought to life by the fact that I’m always the last one at the dinner table because “I just have a lot of words to say,” as put by my 2-year-old self, or by the fact that grocery store trips take me hours because you can’t go to Wal-Mart in Walla Walla, WA and not run into at least 5 people you know.

At the the ripe age of 19, I’ve come to realize that communication is much more than the verbal act of speaking with someone. Most of today’s mass communication happens on the computer, or more specifically over the internet. The computer screen has never been a stranger to me. I can still recall the nights spent in our unfinished basement hearing the obnoxious tones of the dial-up so that I could log into my Disney Channel account. At that time my family had a Gateway computer, you know the big clunkers with the cow print on the box? Fast forward 10 years and I’m sitting in a comfy chair, Macbook in hand, iPhone across the table, with no cords in sight or weird tones within earshot. I have the knowledge to code my own HTML basic website or post pictures instantly to various social media accounts linked through my iPhone.

file0001155309316I’m constantly on a screen. It’s not because I’m unsocial or disconnected, but rather because I am social and connected. I like to stay on top of current news. Generally I stay up on current events by means of Twitter, Yahoo, tabloids lining the checkout lane, or the frequent iMessages from mom that say “Did you hear about so and so? I just saw the story on Fox News.” Like it or not, my phone is my lifeline.

The frustrating thing about news media in today’s world is the biases held by different outlets. Take CNN vs. Fox News for example. If I were to watch the same news story on both channels, different aspects would be highlighted and even a twist in material could happen to sway a person toward a particular political agenda. However, I think journalists do a good job of presenting material in an exciting way, or at least holding people’s attention for a significant amount of time. I’m always bored to tears when I see old newscasts of the “60 Minutes” shows with one gray, monotone man sitting in the same spot for an hour. I think news media today has done an awesome job of creating that stopping point and allowing viewers or readers the accessibility on different social media outlets.

Although it is concerning that everything is linked in so many different ways, I think the pros far outweigh the cons. Because everything is so linked, it is so easy to get all of the necessary information within a short about of time and clicks of a mouse, but even the mouse is outdated with the implementation of touch screens. A huge pro of media today is the fact that it helps us to collaborate or share with people across the world in the blink of an eye; all acts that were unthinkable 30 years ago. Yes, a future boss could type in your name to Google and find your embarrassing pictures from a 7th grade slumber party on MySpace. However, with the same search, they could also find your highly sophisticated Twitter in which you retweet articles that interest you, your LinkedIn where you professionally promote yourself, or even your college WordPress blog that you started for a class that evolved into something more. The possibilities are endless.