As I was sitting down to write my blog this weekend I was at a loss as to what to write about. Network theory is interesting, and I have been the victim of persuasion by dominant actors, and I have been colluded into impulse shopping because of an add I saw on Facebook for a funny Buffalo Bills t-shirt, but I would like to talk about an event that occurred this weekend that has to do with a concept we talked about a few weeks ago, and I in fact blogged about as well. I am not sure if it has changed my mind on my stance, but it was definitely eye-opening.
My family was in town this weekend, two sisters, a brother-in-law, my parents, and my aunt and uncle. We were all gathered at my uncles house in Baltimore watching football on Sunday, and as I was on my laptop attempting to write this blog, I realized everything was eerily silent behind me, even though the TV announcer was blaring loudly. As I turned around I noticed my Uncle, father, and brother-in-law all held their iPads in their hands and were watching their fantasy football teams, while the TV was playing the actual game in front of them. I was instantly returned to our class discussion on “the end of civil society as we know it” due to proliferating technologies and the impact they have on our social network. Was my family falling victim to electronic gadgets? Were they all IMing each other even though we were all in the same room and watching the same game? Why in the world do we need 3 iPads????
I have to admit, I don’t own an iPad. I am the only person in my extended family without one. I refuse to get one because I already have two laptops, why on earth would I need another tablet? My family loves them though, and it isn’t only for the fact that they can play games and watch their fantasy football teams on them. It is a convenient tool that allows my extended family to stay in touch over long distances. With everyone extended across California, North Carolina, New York, and (now) Washington, DC, it is no wonder they love the free face-time, and the video and camera ability of the iPad. While I was momentarily alarmed at the fact that we were all sitting in the same room attached to our electronics, it was only a few moments before the yelling at the refs, throwing of hands up in the air, and playful jabbing at my brother-in-law’s expense began again. The electronics seemed to be an extension of us, but the reason everyone was on them is because we have a bi-coastal fantasy football league to spread some friendly competition among the East Coast/West Coast contingencies, and of course with competition comes the need to watch your team's points second by second. The electronics were not a symbol of the destruction of social relationships, but another channel in which we could have a relationship.