the era of over bearing technology?

In light of the recent Michael Phelps dilemma [by now we’ve all seen the pictures of him smoking pot out of a bong in South Carolina] we were asked to comment off topic in our blogs about what it’s like living in a technology savy world. Not just the idea that technology is everywhere, but the idea that your every move is being documented and recorded by somebody somewhere, whether with their blackberry or iphone, on twitter, a blog or even just on facebook. In this day and age, it’s all out in the open for anybody to see – especially now that Grandma & Grandpa are jumping on the facebook bandwagon.

Whether he expected it or not – by winning those bagillion gold medals, Michael Phelps stepped into the sp0tlight of America. As a world record holder, he should know better than to go to some crummy party and smoke out of a bong. But really, how old is he? 23? He’s only two and a half years older than me. We are all irresponsible, we all make bad choices and its unfortunate that Michael Phelps, who is still in his early twenties and probably just wants to live his life and have fun, is in the spotlight. But thats what happens in America. Im not saying I support it, but I also have to be honest and say that I’m a part of it. Growing up in LA we were constantly on the celebrity look out, and I lived for the days that Toby of the West Wing would let me babysit his kids [he was my neighbor]. As ordinary citizens, we worship the ground these celebs walk on and were incredibly harsh in our judgements of their actions.

As a twenty-something, I’m completely a part of that world – there is no denying that. For starters, it’s dangerous how attached to my blackberry. I have the 8330 curve & I absolutely love it. I got it for my birthday last July, and it’s proven to be well worth the data fee that I managed coerce my father to split with me on the family phone plan we have with verizon.   I’ve got the basic browser on my phone, which lets me google or wikipedia whatever I need at the click of my trackball [yesterday Erin & I wanted to know where Trinidad was and within seconds I was able to find out that it was just off the coast of Venezula]. I’ve got gchat & aim applications installed, as well as a google shortcut that lets me access google maps, news, photos & reader easily. I have shortcuts to CNN, the weather channel, New York Times, and the LA Dodgers home page, ESPN and the Facebook mobile application. I’ve got a great mobile app called Viigo, which lets me download all of the RSS feeds my little heart could desire, along with weather info, travel information, sports and even stocks.

I am constantly connected to the world with my blackberry, which many would argue isn’t such a great thing. It does come in handy for reading the headlines while I’m waiting in the ridiculously long Dunkin Donut line on campus, and for being able to email directly back and forth with my parents, friends or potential subletters on craigslist. 

I also love the camera on my blackberry, which allows me to capture ridiculous moments [like my friends building a straw bridge across our 10 person long table at CPK, or the hoards of large geese that frequent campus these days] without having to whip out my digital camera [not that thats very hard to do, but hey, its 2009. were lazy].

I was able to update my facebook status from the inauguration, google map how many miles away from Boston we were when we got stuck on the jersey turnpike, and email my mom to calm her nerves and let her know I was in DC safe and sound.

In terms of feeling like my life is documented, part of me loves it and part of me hates it. When I’m taking pictures, I feel like I’m not living in the moment, but when I dont have pictures a few weeks later, I often regret not taking my camera out. While my memory isn’t too shabby, I often wish I had pictures of more events over the last few years so that I could savor those moments forever.

Everyone loves being tagged on facebook. I love the multitude of pictures that have been posted from my time in China last summer, but I cant lie – I have an addiction to detagging. Maybe its that I’m self conscious, but often times I am not the most photogenic person, and I do not have the need to have 10,000 photos tagged of myself. I have dozens of albums posted, dont get me wrong, I love tagging people and being able to post pictures for friends to see although my albums are often made friends only. The one thing that does make me hesitant is that my dad, brother, brothers girlfriend, two older cousins and their spouses [both couples have children of their own] along with my aunt and her husband and my uncle all have facebook profiles. Its upsetting thinking about how I spent all of senior year anxiously awaiting my college email address so I could finally sign up for facebook, and how public the site now is. I sometimes worry about my Dad going through pictures, but I really don’t have much to hide, and if i do, it certainly isn’t tagged in a public facebook album. There are certainly videos of me tagged on facebook that make me cringe at how much of a tool I can be sometimes, but thats me, crazy and ridiculous, and most people who know me know that side of me, so I’m not that worried.

Thinking back to the days of myspace, I definitely get a little sketched out. After a certain number of random people were posting on my comments section I deleted my profile, and have no intentions of ever rejoining the site.

Besides facebook, I’m not really aware of who is taking pictures of me or documenting my every move. I love googling my name and seeing all my clips from working at the paper last year show up, but I’ve come to accept that I am one of 6 billion – there arent that many people who are too interested in what I’m doing or where I’m going. While some may beg to differ, I just havent run in to the problem of feeling like I’m being constantly surveyed or recorded. Maybe one day when I’m a famous journalist, but for now I’ll just keep on untagging.

I recently joined twitter, but I have yet to make a post. I think the concept is fun, but I’m not too sure how into it I will get. I also dont have a great base of friends to start with, so that doesn’t make it as fun.

Mostly I just feel bad for Phelps. We live in a world that is so technology savy that when you’ve been placed in the spotlight you really don’t have much privacy. His lawyers and publicists are probably whacking him over the head with their mountains of endorsement papers, but the reality is – the poor kid just didnt think before he made the decision to go out. With all the pressure hes faced lately he didn’t think about how somebody could take a picture one second and the next he’d be all over the headlines again – just not the way he imagined. It’s sad to admit, but with the incredible amount of technology that has evolved in the last decade, it is pretty important that we watch who’s taking pictures of what.

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February 14, 2009. Uncategorized.

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