Information Overload: An addiction or just keeping up?

The Pew Research Center, in December 2016, put out a report that said around 20% of Americans feel overloaded by their choices in today’s information-saturated world. The other 79% of U.S. adults say this statement describes them “very well” (44%) or “somewhat well” (35%): “Having a lot of information makes me feel like I have more control over things in my life.”

Addiction Help Center says, “Excessive Internet use has been linked to depression, substance abuse, and other serious mental illness.” So if three or more of the questions were answered with a yes don’t be afraid to contact their 24 hour helpline (877)-259-5635 or you can visit their website.

These 8 questions are from the Addiction Help Center and can help determine if you may have an internet surfing addiction problem:

  1. Do you use the Internet or stay online longer than you originally planned once a week or more?
  2. Do you think about online activity or your next online session even when you are not on the Internet?
  3. Have you tried to stop your Internet use before but were unable to discontinue using the computer?
  4. When you are forced to be away from the Internet, do you find yourself feeling irritable, depressed or moody?
  5. Do you use the Internet much more now than you used to?
  6. Have you ever lost a relationship, had a fight with loved ones or lost a job, career or educational opportunity over Internet use?
  7. Have you ever lied about your Internet use in order to hide the amount of time you spend online?
  8. Do you ever use online time as a way to feel better, to escape from problems or to just “tune out?”

 

My Second Life Experience

Secondlife.com provides a virtual world for avatars of any kind to adventure in and around a world that is unlike their real one. This Second Life experience was one of my first virtual reality experiences on a computer and I found myself getting more engaged than I had originally thought.

Instructed to go to virtual hallucinations island this place made the audio and visual stimulants match those of an individual with schizophrenia, a long-term mental disorder that breaks down thoughts and reality.

Description– Transported to a piece of land that had a house on it you first had to attach the hallucinations badge onto your avatar, which immediately put audio into my headphones of people telling me to grab the gun and kill him. The audio stimuli was very sudden and didn’t stop, even when there was a button saying ‘Stop Voices’. Multiple voices saying that I’m worthless and am ruining things, but then it would switch to someone calmly talking about an entirely different topic. Visually it was interesting. I found myself laughing a couple of times because of the things that would happen if I stayed in the hallway for too long or looked at a newspaper for more than five seconds. Words would start appearing clearer than others and the words were always ones like ‘Death’ or ‘Don’t Care’.

Feelings– My personal reactions to this experience were that I would never wish this on anyone. Personally, I have so many other things going on in my head that when these people started telling me to grab a gun or that I am worthless I can easily see how someone would start believe them or following the actions it demanded. I liked the experience as a whole, but the voices were probably the worst part for me.

Evaluation– Being that this was one of my first computer virtual reality experiences I thought it was pretty interesting and let me really immerse myself into what it would be like with a mental disorder like that. The actual navigation for the game was pretty straight forward and easy to follow, and although there were sometimes where I was flying above the ceiling for no reason, I feel that this experience was pretty much what I had expected.

Analysis– Through this hallucinations experience I have learned that schizophrenia is not just people talking in your head and things happening that didn’t really happen. Its a constant battle in one person’s head between what is real and what is made up. I sometimes watch those shows that follow the life of a person with mental disorders and when someone has schizophrenia they are normally so out of touch with what is happening, so much more than the others. This exercise helped me understand a little of more the reasons why. It helped me gain a different perspective of what this person would have to go through on a daily basis just to get to the next day and do it all over again. They are so out of touch with reality because there is no reality for them, they are living in their own virtual reality that get made up everyday inside their head.

Remix Culture

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ALERT: Keep your dog on a leash or it might get snatched up!

Remix culture is defined as… “a society that allows and encourages derivative works by combining or editing existing materials to produce a new creative work or product.”

If you haven’t already guessed it these are actually two separate photos that, with the help of photo shop and some of my classmates, I have made into one cohesive photo. Remix culture is exactly that, taking something of your own and combining it with another to make an entirely new piece of work. It would be like remixing an original song with some of your own beats and sounds to create a new song separate from the other two.

This exercise was fun and I really liked the incorporation of photo shop, but it showed me that I really do overthink the easy things.

Her name is Luna, by the way. She is a six month old pit bull and is even cuter in person.

My First Time: Polaroids

Instructed to look at our digital life and how we interact online I noticed that I don’t have as much content as the common millennial, especially in the picture department. I observe and watch while everyone else is making all of the noise and posting all of the pictures. I thought about why this might be and I came to the conclusion that it has something to do with my latest Christmas present, my Polaroid camera.

Do you think you should invest in one of these? Watch this video and find out!

 

Reflecting on racial and ethnic diversity

Instructed to participate in this interactive Washington Post video module made me think about how different everyone really thinks and feels about “the n-word”.

There was a specific video where two men had total opposite viewpoints on the word, but they had that same color skin. One basically said that his reaction to the word depended, almost entirely, on the source that the word came from. Where as the other man said that no matter where it came from it left a sour taste in his mouth if he said it and a burning in his ears if he heard it.

Another pair of ladies caught my attention because they were talking about how they feel it is the responsibility of the parents to let their children know about this word’s history. How it is not okay to just sit back and accept it being thrown around and used for everyday titles such as “dude” or “friend”. I don’t think I have ever thought about that before. The environment in which you are raised is another factor determining whether you have, for lack of a better word, desensitized yourself to the true meaning and emotion behind that word or not.

Overall, very eye opening to some of the ideas, feelings and emotions that I naturally never had to think about because of my lack of exposure to the word. Although confirmation that people of the same skin tone will have different opinions on the meaning and feelings behind a word, I still wonder why.

Why are these individuals, who think the word is okay to be said and heard, only accept it when it comes from someone of their same race? One would think that if you want it to be something of the past, then don’t use it in vocabulary today, right?

Set an example for the people who aren’t informed on the history or the true meaning behind the n-word. Monkey see… monkey do.

Digital Divide: Access & Ability

The computer is an invention that has advanced society in more ways than one. The Internet, email and World Wide Web that followed only made further strides to connect even the most distant individuals across the globe. With such a fast-paced electronic change to the way the world communicates, there were some groups that got left behind and this is where the thought of digital divide arises. The problem that once started as a device and hardware distribution issue is turning into one of digital literacy and knowledge of these devices.

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(IMAGE: Flickr/photos/superkimbo)

With so many new technologies being introduced to the public there is an emerging digital culture with every new Snapchat, Instagram, or social media trend. The increase in accessibility is being seen in the school systems, but throwing computers into every school is not going to simultaneously increase the skills to use them.

Recent movements, like the National Education Technology Plan, have pushed to close this digital divide by touching on this accessibility issue, but Jewish philosopher Maimonides once said,

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Give a classroom a computer and provide learning for the day; give a classroom a computer and the right tools to use it and provide further learning forever.

Digital Divide: Definition

The digital divide was once defined, in D. Colby’s “Closing the Digital Divide” as, “…the disparity in access across classifications of race, gender, age, income, and education to telephone, personal computers, and the internet.

But Everett Rogers, communication scholar, sociologist and teacher, argues that, “The digital divide, while currently an access-divide, may at some future date, when the rate of adoption of the internet is very widespread, evolve into a ’learning- divide’ or a ’content-divide’ or some other disparity, based on individuals’ ability to use the internet in certain ways.”

Rogers continues with a reference to the knowledge gap hypothesis in his 2001 article. This hypothesis treats knowledge as a commodity and holds it to the fact that commodities don’t get distributed equally throughout the socioeconomic ladder in everyday America. Having a knowledge gap is closely related to having the currently emerging digital divide in our school system.

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(IMAGE: Flickr/posters/dianecordell)

A Learning Divide

According to Statistic Brain, 81 percent of teachers say online interactivity enriches the classroom and 77 percent of teachers use the internet for daily instruction. From this same data collection, 3.9 percent of those schools have a computer for each student and 12 percent have laptops to lend out. Computers, the internet, and other electronics are being used to teach our next generations to come, but some are getting left behind.

This digital divide is more than just getting the device into these student’s and teacher’s hands, it is giving the teachers the right knowledge to teach the students how to use them. Not only in the classroom, but at home as well.

Digital Literacy: Definition

Just like when the television and telephone, the hardware gaps and learning gaps from the rise in Internet use in schools will eventually be bridged with the right focus; digital literacy.

The University of Illinois defines digital literacy as:

  • “The ability to use digital technology, communication tools or networks to locate, evaluate, use and create information.
  • The ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers.
  • A person’s ability to perform tasks effectively in a digital environment… literacy includes the ability to read and interpret media, to reproduce data and images through digital manipulation, and to evaluate and apply new knowledge gained from digital environments.”

Digital literacy is not primarily about knowing how to upload the best selfie or keep up on Facebook, but rather using the access you have to computers and the internet in a positive and constructive way.

Commerce.gov stated in 2011 that, “While there is no single solution to closing the broadband adoption gap, increasing digital literacy skills among non-users is key to bringing them online and opening doors to opportunity.”

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(IMAGE: Flickr/photos/RobinHutton)

Digital Divide in Education

Although there is a bigger and much larger gap in this divide within the subgroups of elders, race and different socioeconomic status, there is also a divide that is seen within school systems from elementary school all the way through university courses.

This is where the shift from access to ability presents itself. Where the fact that you can have an iPhone in your hand and still slip through the cracks of the divide proves itself to be right.

Sara Hurt is a 21-year-old student from Garden City, Michigan in her first semester of college. After taking a three-year break after high school, Hurt is now attending Schoolcraft College right in her neighborhood and feels this gap as she tries to grasp her title as a student once again.

“It’s been so long since I have used the internet for something other than my own personal entertainment that I am now teaching myself all of the new technological advancements my professors require us to use,” Hurt explained.

There is a certain expectation from our school system, if you don’t have a computer of your own, to at least know how to use the Internet when given one. With such things as Moodle for Oakland University, or Blackboard for Schoolcraft College, even the highest level of education is requiring this digital literacy.

But it doesn’t stop when school stops. 96 percent of working Americans use new communications technologies as a part of their everyday life and 62 percent use the internet as an integral park of their jobs.

Bridging the Gap

98 percent of schools have one or more computers in the classroom along with 84.3 percent having high-speed internet, so this digital divide needs to be recognized as a lack of ability rather than access.

Below are standards that teachers should be holding in their classrooms and three out of the five have something to do with a digital presence.

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(IMAGE: Flickr/Slides/DeniseKrebs)

Starting early and not forgetting about the ones who might be too close to the edge will slowly but surely bridge the digital divide gap present in American school systems today.

 

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(IMAGE: Flickr/Posters/WesleyFryer)

 

PSA for Online Presence Monitoring

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This is a public service announcement to all of the social media users out there that think hitting the delete button really erases everything. This is to the boys and girls wanting to remain safe, the men and women looking for employment, and anyone else with an online presence that will at one point put content onto the world wide web.

Online safety should not be taken lightly when signing up for any social media or networking site. Putting personal information onto the internet has a lasting effect that is nothing like a footprint in the sand. There is a responsibility that comes with an online identity and the content that is shared with even your closest friends can be discovered by potential employers, online predators, or anyone looking hard enough.

Monitor your online content and the personal information that gets onto your social media sites.

My golden rule for pictures, comments, and even captions is: Don’t put anything that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. When it comes to the really personal information, making sure that you are on a secure site and don’t include the information unless it is imperative.

 

This could be printed as a poster, or blown up to fit a billboard and even ran across a screen on television. The addition of pictures and the percentages really touches on the fact that it can happen to anyone and it should not be taken with light of heart.