Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Power of the Internet

As I was looking through the blog and working through the final I was pondering this and wondered what you guys thought...

When Postman talked about the telegraph he said that it made people care about all the things that were happening across national and international borders, rather than what was taking place in their neighborhood alone.  From the reading it seemed like his opinion was if this news had no impact on your life that it really wasn't necessary for you to be knowledgable about it.

I was thinking about some examples, and I think that in relation to the internet, obviously there are connections there.  We see news from all across the world by a simple click of our mouse.  But is it relevant to us?

I follow a few bands on Twitter from the UK and I noticed that even though they were far from Boston, during the tragedy that took place they were sending messages to people here.  One of the band members is an avid runner, so I see the connection there, but do you think this only affected them because they have relation to the topic?  Or does the connecting power of the internet create more empathy between individuals despite distance?

10 comments:

  1. For me, the most troubling thing about Postman's argument is that he ignores the power of empathy. When I hear that something bad happened in another country, does my life change? No. Does that mean it doesn't matter, or the news is useless? Not at all.

    I felt that Postman really wanted to quantify the "relevancy" of information throughout his book. My problem is that I think there's a lot of news and information that just can't be quantified.

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  2. Postman was just a curmudgeon (although age-wise, I don't think he qualifies). The world has become interconnected, and the news has become more relevant. Sometimes the neighborhood only spreads gossip or irrelevant news. It most likely has nothing to do with us. And if it does, we are more than likely to hear about it. Somethings that do happen across our borders do affect us, whether we would like to believe it or not.

    I like what John said about quantifying the relevancy of information. So, I call copy pasta.

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  3. I personally just think that has to do with the human condition. No matter what language you speak or your background everyone understands the impact of what happened in Boston. People were running toward the explosion just to save other peoples lives. I'm sure that if any of us were in a foreign country and didn't speak the language we would have reacted the exact same way. I disagree with John though because I do think these events effect my life on a daily basis, whether its a law passed a couple years down the road or something along those lines. I think it effects me more than ever because of how interconnected we are. Postman was totally right about people reaching out further and being more interconnected.

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  4. In a way, events elsewhere DO have an impact on us personally. For example, Sandy Hook. For some reason, this spurred gun debates and because of that, we are very close to getting our personal weapons taken away. I'm not going to start a debate and whatnot here, but I just wanted to prove Postman wrong for his belief that affairs elsewhere don't affect us. Because they really do.

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  5. I think that the internet has the ability to connect us more over large distances and we can get information from the internet now that we might not have received without it. That being said, I don't think that it makes us more empathetic. I think that we could become less empathetic because we are exposed to so much more tragedy.

    I think, however, that we would have the same reaction if we heard it on the news as opposed to seeing a internet article or hearing it from a friend. Most humans are naturally empathetic and the internet does not make them more so.

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  6. I think that it is important for people to understand what is going on around the world and not just what is occurring in their own neighborhood or even country for that matter. I agree that from Postman's quote it sounds like he is saying that people should not be concerned with world events if it does not directly effect them. This quote seems silly to me because world news has the ability to effect us every day. Even if these news stories are nowhere near us I think that we should be knowledgeable about them.

    The internet has given us quick access to these stories and events and I think that that is a good thing so that as a culture we can understand what is happening in other places and not just in our own backyard.

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  7. I would say that the connection that people find in the internet certainly creates more empathy, and I would say that it is a good and worthy thing. I believe that Postman argued against irrelevant information, information that does not apply to us, because that's simply what it was: irrelevant.

    When the connection between cities and people was formed by the telegraph, it gave us the ability to hear about issues in far away places, but it did no more than that for us. it gave us no tools to play a part in these happenings. Nowadays, the internet gives us this kind of information, but it also gives us the ability to make an impact involving it. We can now pay a few dollars online to feed a starving child in Africa for a day, send an encouraging video or email to a person that we hear about suffering a tragedy in another state. etc. We can make a difference now, meaning that information from far off places is no longer always irrelevant. I feel like Postman would make this same distinction, or at least I hope he would.

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  8. I just want to say that Amanda in on to something there as well as Anna. In the context of today’s world we can be more connected than just hearing about the news, we can actually do something like Anna suggests. At the same time just because I have the ability doesn’t mean I am actually going to do something about what I heard, like take up some kind of action—though I am always empathetic or have kind of feeling towards the topic in the end.

    Honestly, for the most part, I am one of those people who is out of the loop for a good day or so before I hear about any global news. I think that this is where Postman’s view comes into play today. I guess I would support that with the claim that though the information I hear from the news might be irrelevant to my immediate person, just knowing what happened can create some form of relevance when in a larger group. That probably makes no sense. I guess what I am trying to say is that knowing is always a good thing to do because sooner or later someone will comment about the topic to you sooner or later, hence the relevancy as I see it.

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  9. I think if anything what the Internet has proven - socially is that people still care. Many people from all across the country reached out via messages to the victims of the Boston bombing. I personally like to know what is going on around the world because I believe that it's important to be aware (at least somewhat aware) of what's going on around the world.

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  10. I agree with Amanda's comment (and I probably would agree with others as well had I read them). Her example of Sandy Hook is spot on--even though it didn't take place in our backyard, it still spurred a debate that could very well affect the nation, or even the world. And I say the world because we are very much a global community now, especially economically and politically. If a US had massive bank failures, for example, not only would we feel their affects, bust so would also foreign governments, investors, citizens and so on. And the affects don't even have to be as obvious as those that would come from a bank failure, even the smallest thing can cause ripples in the global society.

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