Monday, July 27, 2009

Social media is like...

Speaking of metaphors (now that I've just been reading Sylvia Scribner's "Literacy in Three Metaphors" article in ED140 recently, I was struck by the article in the Chronicle of Higher Education's recent Wired Campus blog, "Professor Challenges Students to Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop In". Apparently, Trinity Western University professor Robert P. Doede, who teaches philosophy, challenged students in his "Issues and Ethics" class to stay off traditional and new media, including TV and of course social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The article goes on to talk about students' reactions to this challenge, and of course while I wondered (while writing this blog post) whether I'd be able to do such a thing, I was struck by the metaphors that were used to illustrate the giving up of media in one's life. Is checking e-mail like eating that frozen yogurt, you know, the kind that you just have to have? Yogurt Park, anyone? Is using Facebook like taking a drug?

Or, to put it more directly, is media a drug that we take, or a food that we eat? Do we taste, consume, ingest, and digest the networked media in our lives?

This passage, quoting professor Doede, is interesting to me in how it uses the language of "fasting" and "addiction", suggesting these organic metaphors may be right on:
“Most who do take on the fast begin their journals confessing that, though they have invested more time in these technologies than they feel good about, they doubt that they will find it all that difficult to complete the fast,” he says. And nearly all the students who keep up the fast until the course ends conclude that they used to be addicted. “It's interesting to identify in their journals some of the tell-tale symptoms of addiction withdrawal,” he says.
So maybe social media really is like...a chocolate cake donut with colored sprinkles dipped in Peet's coffee? Man, I'm getting hungry.