Tag Archives: Alfred Hitchcock

Internet = Rear Window?

16 Mar

I recently watched Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” and the opening dialogue between Stella and Jeff produced an “ah-ha” moment. Stella noted that “We’ve become a race of Peeping Toms. What people ought to do is get out of their own house and look in for a change.” As a communications major, we are obviously studying technology and its effects on the communication process. Where people once gossiped over tea on front porches and monitored the world through fragments of imagined realities gathered from overheard conversations, what role does technology play in changing the way we communicate and obtain information? While many studies have been conducted on emerging technology, such as the Twittersphere and Facebook, no finite conclusions have been drawn. All we know is that it’s changing the way the communicate and obtain information.

As the automobile once “served as a vehicle of innovation, as it communicated an ideology-a prescription of how people should live-of limitless horizons and tamed frontiers,” can we now say the same about the Internet and emerging technologies (Wood and Smith, 2005, p.156)? Where the automobile once shaped American culture and the T-Bird was once the iconic symbol of the rebel, what role is modern technology playing on American ideologies?

While one extreme makes me think that technology is slowly transforming our culture into a synthesized and experimental hybrid of human interaction, I would also like to believe that it also connects us and deepens our intrinsic need for human connection. I’m really not a cynical person, but everyone should question the new and unidentified. The Internet is a place where the insecure teen can connect with others and build self-esteem, where mothers find outlets in mommy blogs and those of us with opinions have the means by which to share them with the world. With the ease and accessibility of online communication and increased “memberships” to virtual communities, what are the effects on our relationships-and not the online ones?

I’m not entirely sure. Is that ok to say? I mean, with the wealth of information available at my fingertips, is it still ok not to know? Sure, I follow those purveyors of innovation and knowledge of technology; and yes, of course I follow their blogs. I read scholarly journals and listen as my professors debate the changing role technology plays on communication. But even they don’t know the full or lasting effects yet. I think it’s ok not to know. It lends an air of mystery, and after all, who likes being predictable?

Wood, A. F., & Smith, M. J. (2005). Online Communication. Muhwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.