Wesch: The Machine is (Changing) Us

I’ve watched the video twice now…  I find it fascinating…  I find the ideas intriguing…  I find myself contemplating my own use of technology and social networking platforms, considering my motives and whether I feel fulfilled as a result of the time I spend…

We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.
   – Marshall McLuhan

This simple phrase got me thinking about cell phones, iPhones, Blackberries, and other mobile devices that have become indispensible, as well as about platforms on the internet such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and on and on…

Cell Towers and Birds

Cell Towers and Birds

It’s been a few years since I’ve attended the state council meeting for Audubon… but it was recent enough that people were starting to tote cell phones.  I remember being very amused that after a session when folks bemoaned the effect of towers on birds that they all ran out of the room to use their cell phones.  Standing with one such participant who was checking her cell phone for messages, I smiled and shook my head.  She said, “What?”  I responded, “Do you not see the irony of what you are doing right now?”  She defended herself by explaining that she needed to be in touch with her office or her family… I can’t remember which…  It doesn’t matter.  We want the convenience, and we don’t want it to mess things up… but more importantly… we want the convenience.

At a recent national conference of environmental educators an even bigger percentage of participants had cell phones glued to their ears between workshops, or ran to their laptops, or the 6 or 8 public computers provided by the conference organizers, to check their email (or the Facebook status of their friends?).  I longed for “the old days” when conference participants actually talked to each other.

What did I do?  I carried my cell phone.  It was a helpful tool in coordinating lodging for me and my three colleagues, and it works great as an alarm clock.  I didn’t check my email or Facebook page for (gasp) three whole days.

But I digress…

What are my motives for having an email account, maintaining a blog, or being on Facebook?  What satisfaction to a get from it?  Is it worth the time I spend?  How is “the Machine” (changing) me?

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