It is always an exciting experience to meet someone new! This experience is paired with a fair amount of uncertainty when you meet that person online. Much of human interaction depends on the connections made through nonverbal communication. This type of communication is of course much more difficult online.
Although meeting Becca Solomon was facilitated through an assignment, it was very similar to a regular meeting of someone online. This similarity was primarily due to the openness of the project. Even though it was an assignment, much of the individual aspects were left up to Becca and myself. We began our interactions by swapping basic information about ourselves. This exchange is when we realized we had many common and differing traits. For example, Becca is from the Northeast, and I am from the deep south.
Due to time constraints and differing schedules, Becca and I decided to conduct our interview through Facebook messenger. This method proved to be very efficient and effective, and it allowed us to communicate when we were able to fit it into our schedules! The first question that I asked Becca was on which social media sites was she active. I was surprised when Becca told me that she had both Facebook
and Twitter sites but was not very active on either. My surprise stemmed from the fact that I have Facebook and Twitter sites but am not very active on either. From my conversations with Becca, it is clear that we are both actively engaged with technology and the internet, but we are not particularly active with social media. It was refreshing to talk with someone who shared a similar experience to myself in that regard.
After discussing our experiences with social media, I asked Becca to define in her words the term ‘new media.’ Her response was to say that new media is, “Information and content that is available through the internet or other ‘on-demand’ electronic sources. This dialogue was the first time that I had ever asked someone from outside of our new media writing class to provide the definition. Her response intrigued me because her focus on the technology of new media underscored our in-class discussion about the difference between technology and method in new media. This conversation led us into talking about where Becca received her news.
Becca’s choice of news sources was not very surprising. She told me that she regularly went to BBC and WBZ for her news. These news selections are remarkably consistent with Becca being from Massachusetts and frequently viewing shows such as Sherlock and Dr. Who. The intriguing part of Becca’s answer is that both of these sources are traditional ‘old media.’ I followed up our discussion of news sources with a question that has been a hot topic in the media lately, “Do you think you ever (and if so how often) get
fooled by ‘fake news’?” Becca responded by saying, “I like to think I don’t, as I take everything with a grain of salt. But I also have my own biases, so I’d imagine there are times when I am more inclined to believe something that’s not actually 100% accurate.” Her next statement correctly summarized what it means for new media to be encompassing. She said, “I’m not sure actually how often I might get fooled by fake news.”
I have found the implications of the members of my generation having experiences with technology at a very early age that our parents might not have had to be fascinating. This interest led to my next question to Becca about her earliest memory of using technology. As is common with my generation, Becca could not remember a time that she was not actively engaged with technology. She elaborated by recalling a story told to her by her parents. She said, “I was told that at three years old I snuck out of my room one night, got my way down the stairs, turned on the computer and PC, logged in, loaded up a CD game and started playing. My parents have no idea how long I was on, only that I was able to figure it out. I haven’t really stopped since.” I greatly appreciate this story because I have many similar stories of my own. Many of these stories have shaped my experience with technology to this point in my life, and I am sure they will continue to influence my experiences for many years.
I must admit that I was extremely skeptical about this assignment when I began. However, after spending a short amount of time getting to know Becca, my reservations were erased. Although the duration of our conversations to this point have been minimal, I have learned a lot from Becca both about ‘new media’ and someone whose life experiences have been different from my own. I look forward to continuing my ‘online friendship’ with Becca and expanding on what I might be able to learn from her and her experiences in the future.