The Other Side of The Screen

As MP mentioned in class, we have come upon the touch-screen generation. I did not realize how true that was until I was babysitting my one-year old niece. She was freaking out because her older brother went to go play with toys upstairs with my mother while she was stuck downstairs with me. I pulled out my laptop and began playing her favorite movie, Frozen. I was astounded when she tried to swipe at my laptop screen and then did the two finger-minimize move. I mean she is one.

Our discussion in class reminded me of this moment.

My brother often has my niece and nephew facetime me. My nephew is more familiar with me because he’s older and I spend the summer taking care of him. However, I have spent very little time with my niece because she is so young and haven’t had the opportunity yet. Nonetheless, she smiles and giggles when I appear on the screen. She will sing “Happy Birthday”, babble, and kiss the screen. An outsider would think that she truly recognizes me and is showing affection but if I see her in person, her face is blank—no recognition what so ever. I have to coax her into playing with me. She has not made the connection that the person on the screen is me. I am not sure if she realizes that the person on the screen is an actual person at all.

In class, we mentioned the growing phenomena of this upcoming generation associating, digital media like films or online games, with real life. As a reminder, we mentioned how the idea of what a kiss looks like is changing with the generations because what children and teens see on TV or in movies as a kiss has become overdramatized for cinematic purposes while older generations think of a kiss as a simple peck. I wonder if there is a danger of the opposite occurring. Will this younger generation, who has so much access to information and people, disassociate who and what they see on the screen with real life. I think this already happens to some extent with the current generation of teens and young adults. If we see a clip online of someone vlogging, you will find a slew of nasty comments or if an native-born American child or teen sees a news segment on war overseas, they have a hard time associating what they see with actual people or pain because of the screen in between them. I use native-born Americans as an example because the country has not had a war on its own turf for quite sometime so it is unlikely that they have seen actual warfare in their backyard or a place they consider home-if that makes sense. I am in no way saying that this technology or accessibility to new forms of communications are bad. I am just theorizing as to if we are moving into a place where the screen in between will lead to a further dehumanization of people on the other side of the monitor. What do you all think?

One thought on “The Other Side of The Screen

  1. Hey Andrea, really love your post as a reflection of the role of technology in modern society. Personally, I would argue that technology is a tool like any other. A laptop enables new kinds of communication, knowledge consumption, and recreation. However, it is always the user who is responsible for the actions behind the keyboard. I think the example of hateful comments is an excellent one, as it reveals the internet as a vastly different social space than the physical world. That being said, much as I would never hold the physical world responsible for the atrocities committed within its space, I think the same holds for the internet and devices of access. I believe that responsibility always lies with the user, and those who use technology to dehumanize and attack always had that potential in their nature.

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