Is Technology closing the gap between public and private?

18 Sep

In this day and age, technology is leaving our homes and is being carried with us no matter where we go. What was once something that could only be found in the home, like phones or computers, has now been made convenient and easy to carry around. With this advent of new technology comes the breaking down of the barriers that the lack of portable technology brought on our lives. As Robert Samuels notes in his article, “Breaking Down Borders: How Technology Transforms the Private and Public Realms”, people have begun to lose feel of where they are in the public realm due to the existence of cell phones and laptops and with that, different cultural and social values arise as well. Not only is technology changing the way we interact, but also how our behavior in private is shifting to being more public.

All aforementioned technologies in addition to websites such as Facebook, Myspace, Youtube, and Twitter are leading us to one conclusion: there is no such thing as secrecy or anonymity anymore. In the article, Samuels supports this by writing about how one day he noticed people behaving as if they were in private while in the café’ of a Borders. These people included “a man sitting at a table, the sports section of the L.A. Times spread out in front of him, a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin to one side, his cell phone close at hand on the other side” and a young woman in her twenties “wagging” her foot back and forth and humming to the music on her ipod. If nothing else, this should show that with portable technology it becomes easier to lose oneself to the world around them and act like we are still in our offices, homes, or any other personal space. This can be seen even greater with another patron of the café as she has “her laptop computer open on the table” and her conversation on her cell “getting all her attention—and of course, the attention of everyone around her” (359-60). Her conversation being about canceling a job interview so that she can attend a trip to Vegas with her friend under the pretense of a doctor’s appointment.

We see how this can be a dangerous thing, this transition to the public hemisphere, in that you need to be aware of what information you give out to the world around you. In the last situation, imagine someone who knew the girl from company she was supposed to give the job interview was there and heard about her lie. It would have damaged her chances of getting the position. Easier access may make our lives easier, but can also make things more embarrassing in the case of the girl with her ipod all the way up, or risky. As a cautionary tale, it would be wise to keep work and play separate as much as possible and to be mindful and aware of your surroundings.

Works Cited

Samuels, Robert. “Breaking Down Borders: How Technology Transforms the Private and           Public Realms.” Common Culture: Reading and Writing about American Popular               Culture. Ed. Michael Petracca and Madeleine Sorapure. Sixth ed. Upper Saddle                   River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2009. 259-262. Print.

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