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DePena-IDS803-Computer-Mediated Communication-Week 4 posting

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Please ponder and respond to the following:

1) Does access to MORE people through E-mediated communication change how you live your life or
the world in general?
Absolutely. I remember a time when I was completely reluctant to the idea of any type of social media. I
was a staunch critic of anyone, particularly those in my generation group, for falling in the “trap” of the
then new Facebook euphoria. My rationale for that was that I could reach out to friends, relatives, and
even clients through traditional channels for ongoing productive relationships. I did not need anything
else. Besides, I always saw this and previous form of social media as another Big Brother scheme.
That view changed drastically for me one day when I learned that a close relative of a good friend of
mine had passed away and most everyone, except for me, knew about it. When I called my friend about
a week later, he was actually surprised I had not at least called him earlier to express my condolences.
When I said I didn’t know anything about it, he said that he had posted in of Facebook. Nonetheless, I
have not been as enthusiastic about Twitter, but WhatsApp has been great for seamless international
texting. In conclusion, I can confidently say that, in general, having more access to people through
electronic media has worked very well for me, particularly from a socioemotional and even economic
standpoint to a lesser degree. I no longer feel like an outcasts of almost anything around or far away for
me. I also believe that I have been able to touch many lives across the world in different ways, which
could have been very challenging or even costly through traditional communication methods.
2) What is the risk of people opting to live mostly in the virtual communication world, including virtual
game worlds and chatrooms, rather than the physical world, as noted in "the machine stops." Is there
such a thing as chatroom or virtual reality "addiction?" If so, is it healthy for humans as a race? (IF you
can find a video showing old X files TV programs at the local video rental store with the episode "Kill
Switch" Season 5 episode 11, I recommend it).
That is a huge concern for me, as a parent. It is an ongoing battle to get my two teenage boys to stop
their electronic devices and play outside. The sad part is that, at least partly, they have modeled that
behavior from me. Since they were toddlers, they have seen their father virtually connected, and
teaching them to be connected for that matter. In fact, I remember the day I started to teach my then
three year oldest son to use a mouse and then help him navigate through the Dora the Explorer website.
Obviously, those were the days prior to broadband connection and superfast computers and
smartphones, which complicates the matter for young and old in terms of living in an addictive virtual
world as a result of unprecedented levels of satisfaction that produces such experience. It is scary to see
better and cheaper technology every six months, or even less. People, particularly the young, are under
constant marketing assault for the better and fastest smart device. As with the article about “The
Machine Stops”, while the fictional account is difficult to understand at times, offers a compelling
wakeup call about the life of isolation and tragedy that Kuno and Vashti experienced because of the
enslavement of the virtual reality. However, it is important to recognize there is so much to see, so
many “friends” to make….without the risk of rejection in the real world, for whatever reason. So the
virtual world has become more addictive than ever. That is why, in recent months, I have decided to

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enforce stricter controls in my household to try to create a balance between the virtual and real worlds.
It is an ongoing struggle that, sadly to admit, that the virtual world seems to be inching ahead.
That issue of isolation along with its roots and consequences, has been the concern of many thinkers,
including Rifkin (2000):
The current generation […] is more caught up in time than in space. Advertising messages, […]
television, and even cyberspace provide even more interaction. […] We live in a world in which
getting and holding one another’s attention becomes paramount, and relationships of all kinds
become central to our existence. Descartes’s dictum “I think, therefore, I am” has been replaced
by a new dictum: “I am connected therefore I exist”. […] MIT professor Sherry Turkle, who has
conducted an extensive study of the young men and women who spend much of their time in
virtual worlds in cyberspace, says that at least some among the first generation of the
postmodern ear are beginning to exhibit what psychologists call “multiple personas”. […] In the
new worlds of cyberspace, one plays multiple roles, often on parallel tracks. Each window opens
up into a new virtual reality in which one plays out yet another one of his or her personas. Life
becomes increasingly decentered, while at the same time more connected in webs of
relationships (pp. 208-11).

3) What is your reaction to the trend for E-communications and the Harlow's classic wire mother
monkey experiment?
It seems to me that the fact that Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and others are investing billions in
research and development for the most sophisticated technology for e-communications, is an indication
that we will be witnessing unprecedented advances in just the next few years. If the trend continues, I
believe there will be a time when human physical interaction will be a rare commodity. I believe that
there will be a time when holographic technology will be so perfected that people will be able to
virtually be anywhere in the world to conduct almost any socioeconomic transaction. Even the dynamic
in the use of currency in our day-to-day transactions will be affected greatly by emerging electronic
applications, like “Apple Pay”. In sum, the tendency is more sophisticated electronic communication
devices that will contribute to even more isolation as a result of scarcer interaction with other human
beings in a real life setting. Harlow’s wire mother experiment is a testament of catastrophic
consequences of interacting with “artificial refuges”, even if those produce temporary comfort as the
baby monkeys received when they were scared. The fact that the monkeys that were raised without
their real mothers were socially impaired in their interaction with other monkeys could be used as an
analogy for the profound social consequences that children raised in a virtual environment with little
human interaction may experience in the real world.
4) What is your reaction to Stelarc allowing others to remotely control his body. Could this be used by
firms to increase human productivity? Would you let YOUR body be controlled by your firm if they
gave you a raise?
With all due respect to Stelarc’s artistic performances, I believe that allowing others to remotely control
his body, while very interesting from a technological standpoint, shows little regard for human dignity. If
legally permissible, I believe that technology could well be used by firms to increase productivity,

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especially for the so called blue collar workers. It would be hard, but not impossible, to impose this
scheme on knowledge workers. I would NEVER let my firm to control my body if they gave me a raise. I
feel that my dignity and independence are not negotiable. Otherwise, I would no longer consider myself
as an authentic human; rather, an enslaved automaton.
5) Would you wear a cochlear implant if you were deaf? Would you replace your ear with one that
would allow you to hear over a greater range of frequencies? Why or why not? Is there really a
difference? Is there any biologic body part you would not replace with a machine (or a biologic
substitute.. looking forward a bit to the Rand report) if your body part malfunctioned or was
damaged? (Please maintain appropriate academic decorum in your responses)
Yes, I would. However, if I were deaf it would not make a difference to me if I could hear at normal
frequencies or beyond those levels. Now, if I lost my hearing and they gave me the option to replace my
ear with one capable of making me a superhuman, why not? In addition of being able to at last satisfy a
human curiosity to hear what others say about you, good or bad, it would enable me to utilize this
ability to perhaps help save people in distress or danger (like trapped miners). As with what biologic
body part I would not replace with a machine, I would probably replace any malfunctioning or damaged
VITAL part of my body with a functioning artificial one. I would probably not replace the appendix or
tonsils as they don’t seem to be essential for living a relatively normal life.
6) Using computer mediated communications, and bodynets,
If we represent ourselves to each other this virtual way we can 'tune up' our imperfections.. I could
filter out sweat when I have been working outside and always be fresh from the shower, could
associate my virtual self with the most expensive cologne (pay per sniff of course, a la Rifkin), Get rid
of that knee surgery scar and extra 10 pounds around my waste, could make my feet smaller and
more petite. Heck, why not just pay for access to the Brad Pitt simulacron shell and look like him? All
your instructors could look and sound just like Chris on the CD ROM too. Or Albert Einstein to inspire
you to challenge intellectual heights.
You could in fact change how your boyfriend appears to you without him knowing. If he started to
look like George Bush Jr., you could dial him back to himself. OR, you could keep all the parts you like
and rearrange the rest to suit your preferences. He wouldnt ever even have to know. and vice versa.
Think about playing with people like using PHOTOSHOP to alter digital pictures, but using all 5 senses.
I think I have the slogan for Rifkin's new company "Peopleshop"... "Get Virtual, the Better Reality!"
(and being good little postmodernists, we are all OK with swapping out old, worn out realities for
better ones aren't we?)
We could also make it illegal to meet people in person. Everyone would have one standard "Citizen"
virtual personna. This would stop discrimination for good.
I think we should enact this legislation immediately and use text and voice synthesizers with a stick
figure until we get more sophisticated. Don't you?
I don’t think so. From an anecdotal perspective, I believe civilization was established and developed on
the notion that human interaction and collaboration was vital for its preservation. Having the types of

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scenarios described above, while great material for a SyFy series, would destroy the essence of human
interaction, in my opinion. While the postmodernist society would probably embrace such a fantastic
world of cyborgs, I am not sure that I would embrace it, at least most of it, because it would conflict with
many aspects of my moral and spiritual values.
7) Would you rather be able to digitally change how you appear, sound, taste, smell,and feel when
talking to strangers and loved ones or use your physical self? (and if you say "no, that's artificial, may I
ask if you color your hair, cut your hair, use whitener on your teeth, use jewelry, or use deoderant
now? If so how do you justify that? You are presenting an artificial self to your significant others and
everyone else now!)
I am open to partially embrace those changes as long as they don’t make me a different person. In other
words, If, for example, I could somehow digitally comb or cut my hair or smell good to look good in
front of strangers and loved ones, why not? The technology would probably save me some money too!
But if the caveat is that I would have to change my physical self in appearance, personality, into
something or someone else, I would not embrace such technology.
8) Would you like to be able to change how others seem to you to fit your preferences?
No. That would be morally and ethically wrong, in my opinion. Even if that were with the other person’s
consent, would still not be right, just to satisfy one’s ultimate selfish desires and whims. Just imagine
trying to get someone taller, thinner, prettier…. or someone that would normally is not attracted to you,
or someone that is not loyal, productive, etc. That would be a very antithetical to humanity.
9) Should we make physical interaction illegal for any or all purposes to prevent discrimination? I
certainly think so. Immediately or sooner.
No. Because humans are imperfect, it seems to me there are many other issues that arise when you
physically interact with others, besides discrimination. Should we also make physical interaction illegal
to prevent bad breath? To prevent stress? To avoid embarrassment? To prevent catching a cold? Why
not use technology as an ongoing, mandatory educational tool on the different aspects of discrimination
and other social maladies?
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References

Rifkin, J. (2000). The age of access: The new culture of hypercapitalism, where all of life is a
paid-for experience. New York: J.P. Tarcher/Putnam.