I’ve enrolled in eLearning and Digital Cultures #edcmooc on Coursera. With Valentine’s Day coming up, I was struck by this video included in Week 1’s discussion of dystopian and utopian views of information technology.
Does the video support a dystopian or utopian view of information technology? I have two sons in grade school and perhaps it is for this reason that I think it shows more of a dystopian view … a mother’s fear of the future?
Thinking aloud …
I noticed how the woman in the story was on Facebook and turned off by advances being made through chat. With more opportunities for getting know others through social media, could it be that a direct approach may be a turn off? What has happened to the surreptitious side glance to see if she is looking? The art of tossing her head or casually flipping her hair to feign disinterest in his staring? Do online chats that do not adequately capture nuances diminish the syrupy impact of pick up lines to pathetic pleas for attention? Is that why in the video, the men leering at the woman in the store are met with her disdain? Has she become cynical?
In the video, the man and woman are able to send messages through a paper bag that seems to be magically connected to each other. They can neither hear nor see each other but notes are almost instantaneously exchanged between the two. The analogy to communication over email cannot be missed. The video is called Inbox after all. I suppose the connection they are able to build through that paper bag can be seen as utopian – love finds a way? But I still think it is dystopian. Has the overwhelming presence of technology made it so that a magic connecting paper bag becomes a novel way of communicating that the two will persist using it until the paper bag is destroyed? It seems to me earlier on that the two could have exchanged their emails and brought the communication online. But I guess there lies the crux of the matter, email would not have added dimension to the conversation – still no voice or visual, unless perhaps they did an on cam chat.
I am also reminded of those many instances where women have been lured to meet up with men they have met online only to come to harm. In the video, the guy seems decent enough but it could have been otherwise. Is seduction more easily played out on a computer screen, where words can be edited or deleted to please, before hitting the send button? A definite advantage, compared to a face to face encounter where an awkward sentence cannot be taken back.
And so I wonder how my sons will fall in love. Will the drama be played out only on a blinking computer screen? Will the exhilaration of getting a girl to say yes to be your girlfriend be reduced to a mere status change on Facebook? I hope not.
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