Week One – NetLanguage

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Thinking about and discussing the definition of ‘network’ and ‘society’ in our day and age definitely triggered some interesting opinions and topics within our class. In my opinion, a ‘network’ can be considered a group of beings that are all interconnected in one way or another. In the society I live in and the generation I was born into, the word ‘network’ is often associated with ‘social networking’  (ie: facebook, instagram, twitter) which brings us to this week’s topic – netlanguage.

While watching Sherry Turkle’s TED talk on our relationship with technology, I noted the year it was recorded, 2012. Even though technology is rapidly evolving, three years have passed since her talk, and I am surprised to discover that her opinion is still relevant. We are sadly, still drawn to controlling an idealised and heavily edited virtual reality of ourselves (TED Talks, 2012).

In many ways, I agree with the way Turkle views the grasp of technology – I completely agree that human relationships are messy and that we are now afraid of being alone as this is seen as a ‘problem’ as I can unfortunately relate to this completely (TED Talks, 2012). There have been many moments in which I have being performing a simple task like waiting in a queue or travelling on the tube alone when I have felt this need and pressure to be doing something, so automatically I grab my phone. The funny thing is, I don’t even have reception on the tube so I literally end up scrolling through lists of apps, wishing they worked so I could do something with this ’empty’ time. If I was to measure it, I am positive that I could count at least 20 moments, daily, where I have reached for my phone for no reason. I feel ashamed to admit that it is something I rely on almost every day.

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So with our constant exposure and interaction with handheld devices and the internet, it was inevitable that our generation would start a new form of communication, commonly known as ‘NetLanguage.’ It’s fascinating to explore how social media (particularly Facebook) has been a catalyst for redefining words such as ‘friend,’ ‘poke,’ ‘like,’ ‘wall’ and ‘follow.’ There are now so many online platforms to communicate with one another now that natural rules seemed to have formed themselves around these methods. To prove this, I put together an average question to ask my two flatmates and then sent it to them via:

  • Text message
  • A What’s App Group
  • Email
  • Facebook Wall Post

I expected them to be confused at first (especially seeing as I was in at home in my bedroom at the time), but respond in ways appropriate to the communication method. I predicted that the email would be the most effective as I laid out the message in a rather formal way, appropriate to email format.

Screenshots of the examples can be seen below:

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The main consensus from this experiment was that my flatmates definitely prefer me to make the effort to come out of my room to ask a simple question rather than update them publicly (via a Facebook wall post) or through our what’s app group. I didn’t get any response to the text message I sent to them, mainly due to the fact we don’t use texting as our primary form of communication (more often what’s app and Facebook) and it is more expensive that just using wi-fi. When Jess responded to my email, I noticed that she adopted the appropriate format for an email response: using clear spacing, grammar and punctuation with a formal ‘sign-off’ of ‘warm regards’ before stating her name. Using this same approach on Facebook or what’s app however prompted a very confused response from my flatmate Miren – proving how particular format and structure is when communicating through different methods on the internet. I could imagine it being quite difficult for someone who is only familiar with writing emails to transition into the world of Facebook, instant messaging and texting when they are accustomed to much more formal approach to writing.

Sources:
TED Talks. (2012). Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?. [Online Video]. 03 April. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7Xr3AsBEK4. [Accessed: 14 October 2015].

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