Yesterday just before class a few of us had a brief conversation over Twitter. Personally, I have yet to jump on the latest fad and still continue to wonder over the logistics of how it works. What exactly is tweeting? Why do people tweet? What are times or situations are considered tweet worthy? The fact that thoughts are now contained to however many  characters Twitter allows or suggests is mind-blowing and could have interesting implications on memory.

All in all, People have explained to me that Twitter is a fantastic way to stay updated on current events by following live streaming news and taking full advantage of the technology our society has to offer. In all our conversations about the self, especially in reference to episodic and semantic memories, I wonder if social networks, like Twitter, are changing the way people are shaping the self?

The fact that information is so readily available at our fingertips could swing in one of two directions. We could either be gaining a wealth of knowledge because things are so easy to discover or we could be not be fully engaged when we are learning things because they so easily accessible again. Connecting this to the concept of the self, we could be becoming more enriched and defined by the excess knowledge, or the opposite could be true due to our lack of memories. No longer do I find myself having as many conversations with my parents about current events because I can readily access them online along with millions of bloggers opinions. This is therefore depleting episodic memories I typically created and perhaps changing my self. For the better or for the worse is the question.

Bill Keller wrote an interesting piece entitled The Twitter Trap where he mentions how the capacity to remember “stays parked in the garage”. Essentially, while Keller commends the knowledge we have at our fingertips, he also points out how it is eating away at our attention spans and making memory a thing of the past. At one point he mentions, “My inner worrywart wonders whether the new technologies overtaking us may be eroding characteristics that are essentially human: our ability to reflect, our pursuit of meaning, genuine empathy, a sense of community connected by something deeper than snark or political affinity.”

After attempting to define consciousness in class yesterday, we often refer to the idea of reflection. Is Twitter making us less conscious? Or by suggesting that we are less community connected, does that make us less self-aware? So many questions could be asked and few answers are available… And no, don’t try to “Google it”. I’ve already tried.

One last interesting bit from Keller’s article was the mentioning that iPhones could be headed in a direction where “commands would come straight from your cerebral cortex”. What would this mean in relation to the self if human action is no longer needed?

2 thoughts on “#seeyal8ermemory

  1. Good useful information has to be discovered and then it must be propagated. Once this propagation has occurred we will have a “phase change” in Society. Like water changing to ice Society will change to a degree scarcely thought to be credible in a very short period of time.
    The Universe will change and with that change what it means to be Human will change as well.
    Besides personal memory is a constantly revised personal narrative designed to give us a sense of continuity. Historians, no matter how thorough, can only give us some version of events with their guesses filling the gaps. What was the US Civil War about for instance?
    Personal testimony about recent events is notoriously unreliable as research has proven over and over.
    What ever is lost, if anything, was never accurate anyway. With Multimedia you will be able to design and build a completely convincing narrative with each one of your tweets cited as documentary evidence.


  2. The rise of social media, including Facebook and Twitter, has resulted in an interest in self-branding. Young people are using social media to express their best qualities — their wit, intelligence, or beauty, for example. In this way, people are creating an online “self” that somewhat mirrors their true self, but most closely relates to their desired self. The urge to brand oneself is facilitated by the “likes” and “comments” people receive — positive reinforcement that adds to the reward pathway in the brain. This leads to more self-branding behavior.
    In terms of verbal and physical social interaction, this obsession with personal branding has yet to make an impact. In my own experience, I have actually made new connections and strengthened old ones, thanks to my posts on social media. With the advent of smartphones, however, young adults are missing opportunities to start a verbal or physical connection. In the recent Oscar nominee, Her, society is depicted as a mass of people engrossed in their own highly-personalized operating systems. As humans, we like our opinions to be validated and social media gives us an efficient way to garner that type of support. Unfortunately, this leads to “smartphone syndrome,” which stifles verbal interaction.


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