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Emily Hert

Sociology
Final Paper
Fleishman
Abstract
This work focuses on the relationship between culture and technology from a macro and micro
level standpoint. Since the beginning of time man has felt the need to come up with better and

easier ways to do things through inventing technologies; i.e. the wheel, plumbing, computers,
etc. The two will always connect to each other in a functioning society. With the growth of
technology, cultural differences will follow; as well as culture pushing technology to grow. In the
micro level experiment performed, I measured my social networking use and tried to minimize it.
This can coincide with the macro level relationship between culture and technology.
Technology and Culture Analysis

Technology and culture are both ever-changing and will always be together in the world.
In Adorno’s article The Culture Industry Reconsidered, he takes a stand against what is actually
authentic to a culture versus what culture industries push to believe consumers to be authentic.
He states, “the culture industry has nothing to do with the views or needs of the masses. Rather
the culture industries produce commodities which generate false needs” (231). When taking this
and applying it to just one aspect of one of the most used technologies today, that being social
media, one can justify that we do not really need what we feel we do from being a part of a social
network. For example, the more one sees others using a product or giving into a fad, the more

one will consider it to be a necessity to be a part of today’s society. According to Adorno and
Hurkheimer the number of people that a given cultural product reaches, says nothing about its
quality (233). Thus we are just giving into conformity, even if the technology is not up to
standard, or needed. In Skophammer’s article, he touches down on technology, culture, and
environment being ubiquitous and ever-changing (4). If we look at the environment at a macro
level, say America as a whole, and the technological focus still being social media the culture is
continuously growing addicted. This, in return is affecting the American culture on an individual
level through creating reliance on this technology. Technology, of course is not always harmful to
society. It has proven to produce many answers for problems in the past. With technology
growth, cultural differences will cultivate, as we can see through generation from the industrial
era compared to one in the digital era.
In Postman’s book, Technopoly: The surrendor of culture to technology, he sees
technology as both friend AND enemy, not either or. He also states that it is all about how the
individual chooses to make use of it, in order for it to be detrimental or helpful. I think this can
be applied especially in terms of social media. For example if one uses social media to share the
beautiful experience of life with others, this is gaining. But with it will come competition, by
wanting life to be as exciting as seen through the internet. Postman relates his standpoints to a
story he includes, given by Plato called Phaedrus. The story was about an inventor selling his
ideas to the king, Thamus, and the king claiming the invention, which was just writing at the
time will have people “cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful; they will rely on
writing to bring things to their remembrance by external signs instead of by their own internal
resources” (Postman, 2). Of course writing has proven to be a significant advancement in the
sharing and stamping of ideas and beliefs, which Postman acknowledges; but we must be aware

to the fact of how much has changed in reliance of our memory. We now have flash drives,
media files, etc. to remember what we tell ourselves we can’t; “Thamus is concerned not with
what people will write; he is concerned that people will write” (Postman, 6). Relating all of this
back to a macro level, we can use a functionalist approach to identify technology as needed, “we
can conclude that nearly every human activity involves some form of technology”
(Skophammer, 4). In Techno-social Life: The Internet, Digital Technology, and Social
Connectedness, By Mary Chayko she mentions social media functioning as a society in itself,
giving people a place from around the world to feel connectivity they might not feel within their
community through shared similarities. This raises concern to what we could be doing for people
in our communities, to bring that personal connection back. She incorporates conflict theory here
by the reduction of face-to-face accountability becoming a growing challenge. “To be
continuously connected with others can become such a relied-upon aspect of techno social life
that major stress and anxiety can result when users become disconnected, even temporarily. Just
to worry that one may be out of touch at some point can induce anxiety – a sense of being
overwhelmed and “fear of missing out” that has been given the acronym “FOMO” (see Bawden
and Robinson 2009; Przybylski et al. 2013; Turkle 2012a, b). Technology often anchors people in
spaces and relationships. Accustomed to constant connectedness and availability, one can be all
the more uncomfortable when out of touch, even temporarily. Digital technology can thus
minimize the isolating, even terrifying, feeling that one is lost, alone, and cut off from others –
because the tech “plugs us in” (often in a quite literal sense) to one another and to the world
around us” (Chayko 980). From this excerpt we can relate how social networking can be a friend
and an enemy all in one, just as Postman suggested. Conflicting with the online world, one can
feel left out of the techno-advancing culture by not keeping up to speed with the masses; or think

that their life is not as pleasurable as the masses. Though, one can benefit one by leaving them
feeling apart of this culture through their simple participation, social networking becoming a
friend.
Mindful Technology Use Experiment
Weeks ago, when given the challenge to be mindful of my technology use, I chose to
narrow it down to minimizing my social networking use. I tracked this through an app called
"Quality Time". The app measured quantitative data through my weekly and daily usage of all
apps found in my phone in hours/minutes, as well as the amount of times I unlocked my screen. I
planned to implement the app through becoming more deeply aware of how much time I spent
on social networking, when I could be doing something more productive. Initially, when I saw
my weekly hour usage as high as a partime job, I expected to lessen my total phone usage as a
result. Then, I considered factors such as apps that help me like google, and maps. I reminded
myself this is not about the phone just yet; first I must meet my social network minimization.
After realizing how connectivity through our phones is a part of our culture now, I mainly
focused on reducing apps such as Facebook and Instagram; when originally it included my
messaging app and snapchat as well. I took snapchat out, because I simply admire the pictures
shared through the eyes of people I value on a daily basis. I eliminated my messaging app from
the experiment because texting is conversation, even though not face to face, I tend to speak
better on paper (or screen) when I have time to think of what is trying to be said. Though I was
still careful to be more mindful to the two apps left out in my results, due to the underlying
aspects these apps bring; such as isolation from only watching snap stories and not snapping
directly, and not progressing in verbal art of communication. As a result I expected more time to
be used with things that interest me, and more time spent living in the moment and environment

with people I care for, and less time sitting on social media.
Personal Reflection/Experiment Results
Within the three week time span that I tracked my usage, every week the four most used
apps stayed at the ones I was trying to lessen. Though my usage did decrease overall, with the
apps switching from Facebook being the most used app at 216 times the first week, with 7hrs &
36mins; to the second most used app with 140 times the second week in 3hrs & 39mins; and in
the last week, staying at the second most used app but with 89 uses in 2hrs & 28mins. Instagram,
in the first week, was used 112 times within 2hrs & 42mins; to the second week being 83 times
within 2hrs & 10mins; and lastly 55 times in just 1hr & 31mins. Without this app I would have
never imagined how much I get on social media compared to how long I am actually on it. I
found my highest rate of usage was at night when I can’t sleep, and when my depression hits.
One can infer this is because my mind needs distraction and at the same time connectivity to
another world, known as the online one; my limitation did not show as rapidly as a change as I'd
hoped for, due to this reason. Though, I strongly wish to keep my progress going and to work
harder to find things that I can spend my time doing to individualize myself, and also going out
of my way to make connections with people. At this individual level I can see where symbolic
interactionism comes into play. I put meaning on social networking for reliance of connectivity,
as why most people do. But to change this I need to connect to society in a more beneficial way
then what seems to be a mere underlying competition in life. I hope to raise awareness of this to
the individuals in my life, ideally creating a chain reaction resulting in a cultural shift towards
technological use for positivity.

References

Adorno, T. (1993). Culture Industry Reconcidered. The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on
Mass Culture, 230-238.
Chayko, M. (2014). Techno-social Life: The Internet, Digital Technology, and Social
Connectedness. Sociology Compass, 8(7), 976-991. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/soc4.12190.
Postman, N. (2011). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. Vintage.

Skophammer, R. (2012). culture, technology, and environment. Children's Technology &
Engineering, 16(4), 4-6. Retrieved from Literary Reference Center database. (Accession
No. 76254017)