Blog #5 – Fear of the Unknown (web)World

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” – Plato

I don’t know if internet is necessarily “the light” but its apparent that even ancient philosophers were tuned into human motivations and fear of the unknown. This applies to the most pertinent aspects of our lives like making decisions when we cannot predict the outcomes and also less significant occurrences like learning something new and changing habits. In Natalie Stroud’s article, “Selective exposure in theory and practice” she mentions that cognitive dissonance leads to selective exposure preventing people to seek information contradictory to what they already know and believe. After observing the South Madison Community and learning the community’s technological aptitude and Internet use, I predict motivating to adopting new communication technologies will be a challenge. Moreover, South Madison’s predisposed disadvantage with Internet skill, access and knowledge may also pose challenges when utilizing new media to build a stronger community within the community.

In “Digital Natives: Variation in Internet Skill and Uses Among Members of the ‘Net Generation’” Hargittai says it is assumed that issues of inequality are not prevalent once people go online because it is a level social platform; all information is available to everyone. Hargittai disagrees and argues that even when people are online differences remain in how they incorporate the Internet into their lives. These differences specifically in Internet skill and aptitude can be attributed to race, age, gender, parental education, socio-economic status, etc. “While the Internet certainly has the potential to level the playing field by offering numerous opportunities to its diverse users…the more privileged stand to benefit from it more than those in less advantageous positions”(Hargittai, 110).

From knowing that South Madison is of a lower socio-economic status, it can be assumed that community members are not as familiar with the internet, its capacities and new technologies due to lack of access. Furthermore, on the October 5th Bus Tour, this distance from “new media” was confirmed after I interviewed a few community members at the South Madison Library. From these brief interactions, I sensed fear and confusion surrounding social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Without accessibility, frequency of use decreases and with that, the likelihood of internet “know-how.” Working with a foundation of less online skill poses a challenge when introducing new online communication platforms. Additionally, we want to make sure that after providing the skills and knowledge to these new technologies, the community will be able to access them. With this knowledge, we may want to approach Savor South Madison promotions from a traditional angle and point people in the direction of the new media platforms; we distribute some paper fliers in the public spaces that direct people to our website and social media accounts.

I also propose social media and Internet use seminars. Though this undertaking may not be feasible during this semester, I think the South Madison community could benefit from Internet guidance. Based on what I learned about the community library, members take advantage of opportunities to learn and engage in community activities at the Library. Savor South Madison could leverage this Community hot spot to introduce new communication technologies at a location where they would be used.

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