Justin Wright

Professor Tran

21st Century Expression

16 December 2015

 

The Effects of a Personal Perspective

Social connection and interaction is an integral aspect of human experience. In modern society one of the most important parts of life is our social lives.  Through the use of technology the means by which humans interact has been upgraded to a point that would have seemed like science fiction 30 years ago.  However, the recent improvements in human communication don’t come without cost.  Social media and certain kinds of entertainment, like reality television, manipulate the human desire for social interaction in order to thrive.  The manipulation of the human desire for emotional connection by popular media results in a usurpation of genuine social interactions between people.

The real-life events that were examined during an interview in the Love and Radio podcast, called “The Living Room”, offers an effective metaphor and example for the situation that has arisen as a result of modern technology and the application of that technology in popular media.  Over the course of the interview you are told that the narrator formed an emotional connection with a man and woman that she was able to see from her living room window.  She came to care about them to the point that she felt compelled to comfort the woman after the man dies.  What was particularly interesting about the narrator is that when she went to comfort the woman she was unable to do so, as the woman had never seen her before.  Despite the very real connection that the narrator felt, there was no corresponding connection felt by the man or woman.

The emotional connection that the narrator felt with the couple across the street was completely one-sided.  The fact that the narrator was capable of feeling so connected to people that she had never actually spoken to was the result of the intrinsic human desire to create such connections.  This instinct is a well-known aspect of human behavior, and it can be manipulated.  Reality T.V. shows will manipulate the participants in order to facilitate the growth of these quasi-connections within the viewers.  As you watch you begin to feel like you know these people, yet most viewers never actually meet them.  The very personal view that the viewers have promotes the formation of emotional connections.  While this manipulation of human behavior is relatively harmless, as it is designed to entertain the viewer, some uses of the same technique can be detrimental.

Social media also unintentionally utilized a similar technique, and has become extremely popular. While ideally it can be used just as a platform to facilitate social interaction without the necessity of actually being physically present, it can encourage the formation of quasi-connections similar to the ones formed when watching reality television.  The most popular social media platforms are publically acceptable, meaning that any user would be capable of finding another given enough time to search.  While the capacity to effectively stalk a user’s account is not, in and of itself, detrimental, it is a popular practice to post personal information on your account.  This enables anyone who can find your profile to have a personal view of your life, a perspective similar to that of the narrator in “The Living Room”. At that point human nature compels you to form an emotional connection, but the reality of the situation is that you have no real social interaction to support the connection.  Unfortunately the popularity of social media has grown to a point where the quasi-connections formed through the use of social media can supersede genuine connections with a backing of social interaction.

Emotional connections are a vital part of life.  As humans we actively seek the opportunity to form these connections, even when they are not mutual.  The circumstances that surround the use of social media encourage the creation of connections lacking substance that can supersede genuine emotional connections.  As seen in “The Living Room” these connections cannot be used for emotional support in the same way that true connections can, which is where the value of these connections comes from.

 

Works Cited

Weipert, Diane. The Living Room. 3 Mar. 2015. Love and Radio. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.

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