After finishing up Paul Levinson’s New New Media, there are a few highlights I would like to share as far as my own experiences with these new new media are concerned.
Myspace is, or was, very addicting for me. That is, until Facebook showed up. Like all forms of new new media, each has its own strengths and weaknesses. As far as Myspace and Facebook are concerned, they are both great formats to communicate among friends, family, and long lost relatives whom you may not have spoken to in years. The convenience of having an inbox, comment section, and the ability to display photos and videos is remarkable. In addition, the virtual games and applications keep kids busy and the ability to make friends with complete strangers keeps lonely people coming back for more. Overall, Facebook more than Myspace is an excellent site for networking and building contacts.
With all that being said, Myspace and Facebook is not without serious flaws. Facebook moreso than Myspace has almost absolutely no privacy. Sure, you can block certain features from being seen, but if you block things for one person, then you’d have to block it for all people. Unlike the old AIM features, you can not turn invisible on Facebook and just talk to who you want to talk to. If you turn invisible to ignore certain people, then no one can see you’re online. That's not fair. In addition, anything you post shows up on everyone’s home pages. You can only imagine how much trouble people could get in or how easy it is to get caught in a lie. Also, the ability to pretend to be someone else or mask your true identity is extremely easy. For example, someone has been posing as my best friend’s sister for months and making statements on Facebook as if he or she were my friend’s sister. This person even went as far as to use her picture. Anyone can steal anybody’s identity as long as they have a legit email and there are people who exist that have nothing better to do with their lives than wreak havoc on others. I know stealing someone’s identity is a crime regardless if it is done online or not. This leads me to my last point. That is, the bullying that occurs on Facebook and Myspace is so extreme sometimes it leads people to suicide, literally. I'm not lying. I've read cases where teens have killed themselves after being bullied on Myspace. I mean, sure, Myspace and Facebook are great ways to present scholarly works, blogs, and network, but leave it to certain individulas of the public to abuse something good. Still think everyone deserves a voice?
At a time when Myspace became too spam infested and all I was receiving was friend requests from porn stars (and I know I’m not that lucky), I discovered Facebook. I thought Facebook was Myspace’s saving grace because at first it was only open to college students and professors. This was great because it weeded out all those immature punks that wreak havoc on others as I mentioned in the previous paragraph (although I understand people can be immature at any age, chances are the younger crowd, who have more time on their hands, would pose as someone they are not rather than college students). Also, as college students, who wants to associate with teenagers? I mean, college students should have a place of their own. Therefore, Facebook used to dominate Myspace in my opinion. Facebook used to be just straight-up messaging and commenting. It was easy to navigate and communicate among my college friends. However, now Facebook is no better than Myspace ever since Facebook opened themselves up to anyone that has an email. This is Facebook’s biggest mistake and I hate them for this. Facebook changes its interface frequently and this change takes some time getting used to. Also, there are so many new options, games, and applications that it has become Myspace all over again. Don’t get me wrong….I still prefer Facebook over Myspace and I check my Facebook daily, but why the addition of all these changes?
I know Levinson is a huge fan of Twitter because he believes in keeping statements as clear and concise as possible … and boy you can not get more concise than Twitter. Twitter is basically Facebook, except without all the applications and games I was just talking about. One can post an update on Twitter and all his friends on his Twitter account can read it. This would seem like a good thing considering how sour I seemed about Facebook’s recent adaptations in the previous paragraph, but the problem is, rarely anyone I know has a Twitter account or uses Twitter frequently. I don’t know if my friends don’t like Twitter, the lack of space available to post updates, or if people have just gotten so used to Facebook that they refuse to switch.
Podcasting is much easier than webcasting because microphones and sound recording programs are cheaper than webcams, usually. In addition, podcasts are available anywhere, from cars to bluetooths. Since my dream job is to work as a radio host, I personally like podcasting. Like blogging and Youtube, podcasts are open for the public so anyone who has a microphone and a sound recording program can make, stream, and store podcasts. If one wishes too, he can write up a script for a podcast before hand, or just stream live and talk as he goes.
One of the last chapters of New New Media discusses the negative side to all these mediums I mentioned and before even reading this section, I already hit upon many of these drawbacks when I talked about things like bullying, flaming, stalking, and spamming. However, I’d like to point out that Levinson makes a great point when he compares new new media to weapons. There are weapons out there, like guns, used to harm people. However, the weapon itself is just an object. Pardon the cliché, but guns don’t kill people. People with guns kill people. It’s how a person uses a weapon that can either be harmful or helpful. For example, if someone uses a gun out of self-defense, then the person using the gun had every right because he was defending himself. I believe anybody who wants to continue living would shoot a gun to preserve his life if he was put in that kind of position. The same goes for new new media and essentially any technology for that matter. There is no technology that is inherently good or evil, but it depends on what people use the technology for. If one uses Facebook to gossip or stalk somebody, then obviously he is using the technology for evil purposes. The more sophisticated our technology has becomes, the greater responsibility we have inherited to do good with that technology. I would argue that the most important technology is the use of mobile media. Aside from the fact that cell phones are like basic computers now, the phone itself can and has saved lives. The ability to call someone when he is lost, in danger, or just to keep track of his kids. However, now that cell phones have been taken a step further, we can acquire information at anyplace and anytime. Even better, if one is lost, he can now bring up a map on his cell phone to guide his way home. Now that’s an example of using technology for good.