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Our Social Dilemma

on November 4, 2020

The past few weeks I have been thinking about the digital divide and privacy as I have been reading through the module. The IFLA trend report, OCLC IoT article, and watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix were really eye opening to me. I thought this would be a great place to start the conversation.

One of the reasons I use Facebook is to keep in touch with my estranged family on my father’s side who are spread out in several states and time zones from me.  My grandmother is my glue and conduit to my family. Though I have longed feared that I would casually find out something devastating about her health on their feed instead of receiving a phone call. This social media platform seemed like a worth wild tool however it is costing me my privacy, attention and time. I am very concerned about this collection of data and manipulation. Libraries are using social media to connect and inform their users. “These are important issues for us in the profession, and we need to make sure that we are both educating our users about what’s happening in the wider world and being good stewards of our own data.” (Ken Varnum, Web Systems Manager, University of Michigan Library) I am starting to rethink my involvement with social media however this becomes difficult because so many business, groups and individuals use these platforms to get out their information. I even feel pressure for the future of my librarianship to join twitter. Even in these CoVid times, you can’t rely on the up-to-date information from a website. Most businesses direct you to their social media platform of choice for current info.

I am starting to empathize with my parent’s frustration as the world becomes more digitally based and phone app dominant to do simple things in your life. For example, my mother no longer has a CD player in her car. I had to help her digitize her music, download it to her phone, download a music app because she doesn’t have an iPhone, open the app to play it, test and train her on how to use. I have become my parent’s IT department! I can see that the library is a valuable service to the older generation in this regard and the concern for the have and have nots with technology and access.

16 Responses to “Our Social Dilemma”

  1. Stratos Xanthus says:

    Hi Christine,

    I understand where you are coming from. In some ways life was easier with cassettes or DVD players. I’ve also never liked Facebook and other social media platforms (yet I still have it for the 5 friends I still somewhat talk to). I used to have Instagram and Twitter for a short time until I realized I didn’t post on the platforms enough to constitute having them. I guess one of the ways I got through school was either hearing news (from people that had the media) by word of mouth or actually walking to the SJSU library to see the current situation. In short, yes libraries are now using social media more than ever and I as well will never feel even 60% comfortable using them.


    • Christine Caldwell says:

      Hi Stratos,
      It’s crazy to have a foot in both worlds. What started out as playful and new is now becoming skeptical and cautious. Thanks for sharing. Christine

  2. I need to watch the Netflix doc. I started it but due to all the stress of there day, I didn’t go very far. I have heard very good things. Thanks for sharing your own examples.

    • Christine Caldwell says:

      Hi Michael,
      I would be curious to see what you think. For me this information is fairly new. It kind of lines up with our power of stories module a bit. It’s really interesting to hear the silicon valley tech folks talk about inspiration, innovation and ethics. Watch the credits as well because they discuss THEIR rules when it comes to social media and their kids.
      Thanks for reading/commenting,

  3. Ye Zhai says:

    Hi Christine, I understand what it means to be the IT department for parents! I even taught my grandpa (who’s now over 80 years old!) to use a mobile phone. I just hope we don’t leave the older generation behind while we ourselves are chasing after or being chased by the advancement of technology. They, too, need to be connected and cared for. Thank you for your post!

    • Christine Caldwell says:

      Hi Ye,

      Kudos to your grandfather and you. I have to applaud his curiosity and adventurous spirit especially when it comes to trying new things for his age. Hopefully it will rub off on others. It’s good that we recognize the issue and can hopefully neutralize it somewhat as we go forward.

      So funny story…I showed my mom how to delete files in her download folder maybe 6 months ago which she had no idea that they were there. I’m still trying to get them to understand a link apposed to an attachment. Guess how many digital files were in download folder two weeks ago…7,943!!!

      Thanks for sharing,

  4. Jeanna Michel says:

    Hi Christine,

    The Social Dilemma is on my to-watch list! I’ve heard great things about it! I can’t believe your mom doesn’t have a CD player in the car. I haven’t been car shopping in a while but didn’t know most car manufacturers got rid of the CD player altogether. When I purchased my new laptop, I was so surprised to find that it didn’t come with a CD player (I ended up purchasing an external CD player that connects via USB). Thank you for such a thought-provoking post!

    • Christine Caldwell says:

      Hi Jeanna,

      It was a really fascinating documentary and highly recommend it. I love the interviews with the silicon valley tech folks. [power of stories]

      Yes CD’s are one of those medias that is being phased out of cars. [Forbes Mag:2017 ‘According to research firm IHS Automotive, 46% of cars sold in the U.S. won’t have CD players by 2021’] Sadly I think they are being phased out of computers too especially laptops. I had to buy an external too because my CD/DVD player in my laptop died after I ripped all my CD’s into a digital format. I still check out CD’s from the library. I tried the digital format [Freegal Music] but you could only download 5 songs and the licensing only last a week. 🙁

      Thanks for sharing,

  5. Sarah Christmas says:

    Hi Christine,

    I started watching The Social Dilemma a while ago but had to stop because it was stressing me out. It’s interesting to think back on the early days of Facebook (remember “liking” random things like “I will go slightly out of my way to step on a crunchy leaf”?). How things have changed! The privacy implications and ease with which misinformation is spread overwhelms me at sometimes. I appreciate what you say about how librarians can help people navigate our ever increasingly technological lives. Great post!


    • Christine Caldwell says:

      Hi Sarah,
      Thank you, I get it. The movie started out really interesting and eventually raised my anxiety a bit towards the end with the whole polarization and political elements that are dividing us.
      Yes, I know something so simple as a like triggers a whole other set of actions. At least ‘we’ are spreading awareness and that’s a beginning.

  6. Jennie Tobler-Gaston says:

    Hi Christine –
    I agree that social media can be overwhelming. It really is a double edge sword – it allows us to connect with those that we otherwise may not be able to connect with, yet it is manipulative and invasive. I think the solution is to be educated on how social media actually works and set some hard boundaries.
    Thanks for the post.

    • Christine Caldwell says:

      Hi Jennie,
      Yes I agree. Its an anxious feeling I have had for awhile now. The movie made me really think about the situation more clearly and helped me defined my boundaries. I want my BF to watch it because he is on Facebook a LOT more than me. Thanks for sharing,

  7. anna says:

    Hi Christine,

    I share your concerns about social media, especially about the pressure to join twitter for future career reasons. In some fields now, it seems like a robust social media presence is required for any kind of career success and that is challenging for those of us who have concerns about privacy, misinformation, etc.


    • Christine Caldwell says:

      Hi anna,
      I have been doing some research lately on job hunting/resume building. They were saying that creating online presence/branding for yourself is becoming essential especially with LinkedIn. It is one of the go to elements that employers are looking at.
      Yes, exactly. They mention providing information on LinkedIn that would not necessarily make the resume/cover letter. How much is too little or too much? Plus I wonder how much to put on there since I haven’t even mentioned to my current employers that I’m considering this shift. I am so grateful there is a career center here at SJSU to guide us.
      Thanks for sharing,

  8. Jodi says:

    Hi, Christine,

    I can so relate to being your parents’ IT Department! I have to say troubleshooting computer issues over the phone with my mother for the past nine years has helped me handle tech issues at the reference desk! My mother is now in her mid-80s and I have showed her repeatedly how to use her smart phone but unfortunately, it hasn’t stuck. Funny story (in retrospect): a week after getting her new phone, my mother had a flat tire. She was able to call AAA because I had put their number in her directory (so far so good), but then the animated voice asked her to select 1 for this, 2 for that, etc. and my mother couldn’t figure out how to get the keypad to show. By this point, she is panicking. A police officer pulled up behind her and asked her if she needed help. Instead of saying she had a flat tire, she thrust the phone out the window and said, “How do I use this?!” The police office was kind and patient, dialed the phone for her, and then waited with her until AAA showed up. The police officer was my mother’s compassionate hyperlink!

    I need to watch The Social Dilemma; last week, I temporarily shut down my Facebook account because it was too much of a distraction and time sink at this point in the semester. I have to say, I don’t miss it. However, I do have friends spread out over the country and world, so I suspect that once the semester is over, I will re-connect. I really enjoyed your post.


    • Christine Caldwell says:

      Hi Jodi @jodidevine,
      I hope your mom can laugh about it now 🙂 Poor thing, but that is pretty funny. All in the line of duty!
      Well we are almost there and FacebBook and our friends can wait.
      Thanks for sharing,

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