Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Unplugged: A World Without the Internet

     Considering life today without the luxury of instant online news and entertainment is an exceptionally difficult challenge that may seem akin to a time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. In her book Media Impact, Biagi (2015) speculates that “new medium or a new delivery system does not mean the end of the world” (p. 181). But how the world would be impacted by the loss of a now critical medium proposes an intriguing problem. The Internet has given humans more ways to advance as a civilization in a shorter time frame than would otherwise have been possible. While some opponents of the digital age criticize its impact on human relationships, the benefits of a connected world far outweigh any disadvantage of such an alternative reality.

     Mass media has had to constantly evolve and adapt to new technologies throughout history; today that evolution involves the Internet—the increasingly popular medium in which a growing portion of the population is turning to. The Internet is fundamentally an enormous network of computers that distributes data instantly across a wired world. According to the telecommunications marketing research and consulting firm TeleGeography (2016), there are about 550,000 miles of underwater fiber optic cables, also known as “submarine cable systems”. The lifeblood of the Internet depends on these arteries to deliver instant communication that has fueled the modern evolution of mass media. Today’s consumption of news and email are the most common uses of the Internet. There are countless websites offering every imaginable news topic that consumers could ever hope to read. Instant collaboration through email is an advantage in a capitalistic economy where trades and exchanges happen quickly; thus, candid observations reveal that life without the Internet would become increasingly more difficult.

     While the dynamics of mass media consumption over the Internet have changed the delivery methods, the types of medium that command the most importance would also evolve to a digital-less world. Since the growth of digital media, some have speculated that printed medium will eventually disappear. However, Biagi (2015) explained that book sales have been unaffected by the digital age, primarily due to publishers adapting their marketing strategies to include digital versions (p. 181). Because books remained a popular choice among consumers, it is not difficult to imagine that trend continuing without the internet. Another example that remains incredibly popular is television. The digital age has transformed the way some people access television as more choose to cut ties with cable providers in favor of streaming services online. Take the Internet away and television consumption would easily revert back to television guides and channel surfing.

     There is no question that the Internet provides clear benefits for civilization; however, some critics dispute that claim. Lehrer (2011) criticized the published work of Sherry Turkle, a professor at M.I.T., who said “we have ‘invented ways of being with people that turn them something close to objects’ ” (Lehrer, 2011, para. 6). Such opponents of the Internet often cite that human relationships are negatively impacted because technology allows people to avoid the stress of interpersonal relationships. However, the online environment has made it easier for us to communicate with people all over the world. Consider the role of the Internet in events like the Arab Spring, which successfully used social media to organize a revolution against human injustice. Such benefits confirm that the Internet has become an invaluable technological, social, and cultural tool that has forever reshaped the world and offered greater advantages over any disadvantage raised by critics.


Biagi, S. (2015). Media Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media (11th ed.). Stamford, CT:       Cengage Learning.

Lehrer, J. (2011, January 21). [Review of the book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from      Technology and Less from Each Other, by S. Turkle]. The New York Times, p. BR15.

TeleGeography. (2016, February). Telecom Resources. Submarine Cable Map. Retrieved from       https://www.telegeography.com/telecom-resources/submarine-cable-map/index.html

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Essay: The Force That Binds Us Together

This was our second English Comp I assignment. It's another reader response over a review written by Jonah Lehrer, an editor at Wired magazine. His review, "We Robots", (printed in our text book, Everyone’s An Author) analyzes Sherry Turkle’s book, Alone Together.

The Force That Binds Us Together

     Sherry Turkle expresses concern about the dangers modern technology poses. She seems extremely critical of the fact that technology—especially robots—allows people to avoid the stress of interpersonal relationships (836). She provides an example of an 82-year-old woman who ignored her great-granddaughter in favor of a crying robotic doll (837). Driving the point home, she also criticizes the internet and the impact she believes it has on the way people communicate. Her tone sounds dreary as she describes how people today prefer sending a text message instead of making a phone call, or how more people are “trapped” by social media in an age when the things shared online never completely disappear (838). Her book gives misleading information about technology’s impact on human relationships; furthermore, she relies solely on personal feelings and observations to support her thesis.

     Jonah Lehrer paints a different picture about the technology Turkle criticized. Lehrer gives the reader an impression that he is more accustomed to technology and its benefits. In his review, Lehrer appears to share similar concerns about robots. He infers a new relationship can be a scary proposition that some people may avoid if they had a robot at home, freeing them from the anxiety associated with social expectations (837). However, a clear difference in attitudes is evident as Lehrer transitions to Turkle’s assessment of the online environment. Lehrer’s concluding point was that technology is just another “tool” people use to communicate (839). He also maintained that she did not delve deeply enough into her perspective; she failed to consider some critical questions and lacked concrete data.

     Throughout his review, Lehrer clearly states positive and flawed parts of Turkle’s book. Support for his review is well established with specific evidence in the form of statistical studies which refute the claims made by Turkle’s primary focus on qualitative criteria. The studies Lehrer cited showed the use of social media actually increases positive feelings and social interactions in the offline environment (839). Yet, Lehrer does give fair and appropriate praise by citing Turkle’s book as “fascinating” and very “readable” (839). In conjunction with the quantitate data he presents, Lehrer’s authority and credibility are established as he commands clear knowledge of technology throughout his review.

     Humans will often take the easy road when presented with a scenario that creates anxiety; therefore, Turkle’s concern about robots and their impact on human relationships does have some merit. However, candid observations indicate that Turkle’s credibility was never unequivocally established with readers. While an online search will undoubtedly locate supporting claims that technology poses certain dangers, technology in itself does not lead to psychological problems. The online environment has made it easier for us to communicate with people all over the world—in some cases with people we may have never met—which serves to unite us closer than ever before. Such close bonds are more likely to strengthen our psychological well-being; thus, technology and the online environment present greater rewards than any potential dangers cited.

Works Cited

Lunsford, Andrea [et al.]. Everyone's An Author. Ed. Marilyn Moller.
     New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2013. Print.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Essay: Blurring the Lines of Literacy

This was my first English Composition I assignment. It's a reader response over Dennis Baron's essay: "Should Everybody Write?" Because our textbook was the source of information, we were only required to insert page numbers for in-text citations; however, I have included both the original source and our text book which printed that source at the bottom of this post.

Blurring the Lines of Literacy

     Just as she was poised to blog a renewed call to action, still dressed in wrinkled pajamas from the previous night, her eyeglasses conveying a sense of accomplished wisdom, every bone in her body was rocked by the sound of an explosion on the street below. Cautiously peering through her second floor window, she observed angry protesters rioting around the source of the explosion: a vehicle, now a burning pile of metal and rubber. Civil unrest has shaken the foundation of the city; indeed, shaken the very bones in her body since the police shooting of an unarmed African American. With the power of writing, this blogger provoked civil unrest by publishing her ideological beliefs about the injustice of police shootings. Thousands of subscribers shared her writings over social media, creating a domino effect known as viral posting. This explosive result demonstrates the weight written words carry as they speed across the cables of the internet super highway; therefore, authors should carefully consider the responsibility they have when choosing to publish any piece of writing.

     Civil unrest can be revisited in the long history of cultures around the world, but the impact literacy has on such a dynamic topic is complex. Baron’s essay revives an intriguing criticism about too much literacy; the concern was an abundance of literacy would raise people above their socioeconomic status, “causing depression, discontent, or even civil unrest” (710). On the surface, he seems extremely critical of recent technology which has provided the opportunities for anyone to become an author; however, his criticism does at least have some merit. In our digital world today, anyone with access to a computer and the internet—just about everyone in developed nations—has the wherewithal to express their thoughts in writing. Whether they have an education or expertise in the subject matters not. The blogger previously discussed published her writings with the intent to cause civil unrest within the community. Likewise, activists of the Black Lives Matter movement used social media to call the Missouri community of Ferguson to action, sparking extensive civil unrest over the death of Michael Brown. Certainly discontent and civil unrest can be present without the writings of activists; in fact, examples from the beginning of civilization have been well studied. Consequently, the use of tactical writing that was strategically executed through social media led to devastating ramifications within the community of Ferguson: riots broke out, cars were set on fire, and stores were looted in the chaos that ensued.

     But does the risk of civil unrest as a consequence of too much literacy prove that some people shouldn’t write, or does that single minded view appear more dangerous than the alternative? Many positive things can be attributed to increased literacy, such as leading-edge knowledge about health and diseases to the overall advancement of human civilization. Socrates believed that nothing new could be learned from literature; a brilliant yet hypocritical view, given that his thoughts on this have been remembered and taught throughout history only because Plato wrote it down (707).

     The evidence shows the 19th century concerns of too much literacy can have an impact on social and political events causing civil unrest, discontent, and even depression; however, it’s hard to imagine a world without the abundance of literacy we have today. If the consequences could be avoided with less literacy, then Thomas Gray’s famous quote “ignorance is bliss” becomes strikingly relevant. What the world must be like without the rich rewards of literacy that has made us such civilized people in the vast oceans of space and time.

Works Cited:

Baron, Dennis. "Should Everybody Write?". Web of Language. (2010). Web.

Lunsford, Andrea [et al.]. Everyone's An Author. Ed. Marilyn Moller.
     New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2013. Print.