Throughout my experience abroad I have met a multitude of new people. I have to admit, if I were at home, I would not have introduced or opened myself up to this many new people in such a short time. When I say, “opened myself up,” I most certainly still refer to that in a very limited way. Mostly in class interaction. I have always believed that I owe no explanations to anyone in order to be considered a part of the community. The limited community, in the case, being the CEA Study Abroad program. This includes the students, faculty and the staff. I had a picture in my mind of what this experience would be like and I was very wrong. I expected more. But then, isn’t that a lesson to be learned? We should not go around expecting anything. To clarify, I really expected more from the demographic of students accepted into this type of program. I did not expect it to be so saturated with basically one specific ‘community’ of students. I use community to describe the type of student I found while abroad. A very narrow-minded, self-centered and close-sighted group if you ask me. That is not to say everyone displayed this attitude. Though throughout the course of the semester I saw various reinforcements of my said snap judgement.
How does this relate to what I have learned in my Social Media & Digital Identity course? In almost every way. Especially, as we discussed, using online media as a screen to hide behind. If it were not for this course I would not have a Twitter, Pinterest, Wanelo, Klout or a Blog. I now have five more screens than I previously did. If it were not for this class, I would not have chosen to connect online with many of those in this community. Although, it is because of this class that I did create these screens and connect with members of this real life community in the form of the online community. Debate as you may whether or not an online group is a community, as we did in class. The result of creating these and connecting allowed me to observe their behavior both online and off. Observing the behavior is very beneficial to the studying of sociology and psychology I have done for the last three years. It is very interesting to follow, over the course of four months, the behavior of people you have never met and had no prior connection to in life. The way they behave online, the things they choose to post on Twitter every five minutes as opposed to what they literally speak every five minutes or how often they speak in general. The insight I can gain into the lives of people I have only just met by looking into their online media based on their tone of voice, photos and interactions with others is disgusting. Not that they or their content is necessarily disgusting, but the amount of information it gives to the online community is disgusting. Until you set yourself back and observe you don’t truly see everything. Whether it be, how much of your life is now public because you put it their or someone else did, it is now there forever.
This course, when combined with the common knowledge of online privacy agreements, gives beneficial insight into those agreements. What exactly did you agree to when you skip right by those terms and conditions? How do you actually delete what you put online or can you? All things that I tried to tell myself weren’t my major problems, but as technology continues to move forward I have learned that I cannot just say I will too, I actually have to now. This class has taught me that online communities are soon to be, if not already, the next big step in my field of study.
There is much more that I have taken from this course, but I feel this was most important.