to write love on her arms

Posted: January 17, 2012 in Communications and Technology
Tags: , ,

Our reading for week three, and our first group project is chapter three of Building a Bridge to the 18th Century by Neil Postman. In this chapter, Postman asks many critical questions of technology at the heart of which is – who is technology helping, and who is it harming? Do you think about what harm you might be inflicting upon yourself when you turn on the TV and are bombarded with the ideals and values of others? I wonder how much time I’m actually saving and how much of my life I’m missing because I carry around my phone with the internet always at my fingertips. Is that even necessary? Am I going to fall over and die if I suddenly can’t look up movie times or check my e-mail? And yet, my phone is still sitting on the table not even three feet away as I write this. Perhaps the main message to be taken away is to be cognizant of our choices regarding technology use and whether that choice is actually our own.

The idea of technology harming us brings me to my ethical dilemma of the week. Last week when I started this blog, I noticed that I could use a widget called social vibe and choose a cause I believed in that would let readers make “donations” to that cause. So, I went through all the hoops and chose to support “To Write Love on Her Arms” which ends up being a donation of minutes of online crisis intervention and suicide prevention. It was strikingly similar to the idea of the FCK H8 videos and in sharing the videos, FCK H8 made donations to causes supporting the end of homophobia. I was very excited! Until I clicked “donate here” myself, and realized that in order to donate minutes (which I did, in the end) I had to participate in “interactive marketing” – an interesting form of communication – and then the corporations that were marketing their products to me would make “micro-donations” to my cause. Because I am against large corporations, I simply clicked through the ads in order to make my donations, however, I don’t assume every reader will be as aware of what the corporations are actually trying to do – which is to market a product to you, not to support a cause you believe in. So, I wonder… am I causing harm by supporting corporations which I don’t believe in… or helping by the eventual micro-donation to a cause I really care about?

For more info…

Critique of “Building a Bridge to the 18th Century” by Neil Postman:

I found this an incredibly interesting read. It may have been somewhat longer than the reading for the previous week, but I was interested throughout every page. It was a great introduction to a theme I am noticing in our Communications and Technology course: that with technology comes responsibility to avoid or mitigate the possible consequences. Consequences could be on purpose, in order to give power to some, and take it away from others (which is unacceptable and should be avoided) – or they could be latent consequences such as Neil Postman’s example of the latent social and political consequences of the television.

Courtesy of


Postman, N. (2000). Chapter 3: Technology. In Fernyhough, L. (Ed.), Comm 105: Communication and Technology. Course Handout: Winter 2012. Victoria, BC: Camosun College. (Reprinted from Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, 36-57).

  1. QRS says:

    I used to see technology as inherently evil in the way you described, but I see it now as whatever we make of it. It makes our lives easier, for sure, that’s why we have it. It makes communication, conversation, easier. Like anything else, it’s up to the individual to decide how it controls them.

    • I sometimes wonder, how much control do I really have? I make decisions and choices, but how much are they influenced by marketing, social norms, or dare I say it — peer pressure? If it is what we make of it, do you think that’s why it is constantly fluctuating and changing?

  2. QRS says:

    Nice blog theme, by the way.

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