Today I had a conversation with a producer of a documentary seeking students who are very involved in new media. For those not in the know, I’m finishing my BS in Computer Science at Empire State College (looking at a June graduation!) After beginning my degree after high school I took a few years off, due to work. The conversation started with several general questions about what I do and my familiarization with Twitter, Facebook and Second Life. These introductory questions are easy to answer; it’s pretty much listing my personal resume surrounding new media. The next question is always an indicator of the direction that journalists and producers are heading towards, and that is my approach new media. I explained that I’m quite active on throughout many different services and in many ways they have become an addiction to my life; Twitter and Facebook have become ways for me to communicate with others, and Second Life has become a source of financial gain. However the conversation took a quick right turn into a neighborhood I’ve been into with so many other members of the press, addiction.
"Do I ever feel that Twitter or Facebook over stimulates or distracts me from school work?" was the next question. Over stimulates is synonymous with addict. Has the economy gotten so bad that journalists are looking for Twitter and Facebook addicts? More importantly do they even exist? I have never heard of a person who Twittered so much that they lost their job, kids, and developed a meth habit. In actuality people who use Twitter and Facebook too much become really popular, even famous. Second Life is a different story; there are plenty of stories about Second Life’s effect on marriages, relationships, etc. There are more stories surrounding Second Life’s positive effects on relationships, marriages, people’s lives, and the development of technological skills.
If you are a journalist and desperately seeking addicts in today’s technological world, look in World of Warcraft or Everquest. These are entertainment portals and built to be just that and can be very addictive. For those interested in MMOG addiction, start with the Second Skin film, it does a great job in describing the situations that occur which develop MMOG addiction.
The addiction and new media story is old, annoying, and not needed. There are plenty of good and interesting stories without the sensationalism of addiction or divorces due to new media that are covered by the press. In my opinion, these sorts of scandalous stories surrounding new media (Second Life, Twitter, Facebook) happen very rarely. It takes an extreme set of circumstances, a certain type of person, and the right situation for an individual to be addicted. While journalists, directors and documentaries may get a huge buzz from these sensationalist stories, that boat has passed a long time ago. The attention your trying to draw in by these stories is nothing compared to the attention you will draw by the stories of how social media has affected people’s lives positively.