Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Facebook isn't Technological Determinism

In basic terms, technological determinism is defined based on the premises that societies are forced to adapt to technologies. Technological determinism does not have a definite outcome or solution. Rather, the social change aspect is driven by means of goals of rationality and efficiency. To further illustrate this point, I found an article on the News Scientist website which basically gives the assumption that Facebook will take over the world in the means of socialization. The article describes that Facebook will be the medium to the largest means of communication, thus, society will be forced to use Facebook to gather information rather it be news, advertisements, social networking, etc.

A few counter arguments I am going to illuminate are: people’s desire for lots of friends, mass production of advertising, and the benefits of a fast paced environment. To start with, back in the day before Facebook became popular I use to be a Myspace account. I would notice that many people would have competitions to see who could get the most friends. Some of the reasons people would do this I because the media and society preach that it is important to have as many friends as possible for networking purposes and for relationships. This means that Facebook isn’t changing the way we make friends, but it is a means to creating a mass amount of “them”, even if they are just Internet friends. Technology (in reference to Facebook) isn’t causing forcing society to adapt; rather it is society adopting it.

Secondly, another example would be that Facebook allows for a mass production to mass audiences. For instance, if someone were throwing a birthday party, they wouldn’t have to buy cards, stamps, invites, envelopes, and take the time to put all them together to be mailed to the recipients. Since Facebook allows someone to create a group or advertising which will be shown to many, it eliminates a plethora of financial difficulties and time consumption. In this case, Facebook is not causing the “taking over of the world”, but it is society that chooses to utilize the functions of Facebook. Facebook isn’t changing social norms, but once again, society is choosing to adopt the technology, not society being forced to adapt to it.

My final counter example is going to have a pivot point around society and it fast paced, day-to-day, jam packed schedules. When walking through many the streets of the city’s downtown, you may see many people in business suits and talking on their Blackberry. Whenever you ask them a question, they act as if they have no time for you. Well, society in general revolves around a fast paced environment so then we must compensate by having tools that can help us keep up with the pace. This is where society uses Facebook as a means of instant communication. A couple of the features of Facebook include an instant messenger, private messages, wall-to-wall posting, and tagging which all provide people/businesses with instant access their audiences. This drastically diminishes face-to-face communication but it is not Facebook that is causing it. It solely lies on the people choosing to make Facebook their means of communication.

Facebook isn’t changing the world; people have not been forced to adapt to it, but rather society has adopted it for means of creating new friends, advertising to a mass audience, and also to help with the fast paced environment.

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