Becoming Unavailable

Vision:

To successfully and adequately capture through daily vlogging reflection and blog posts how ‘unavailability’ from social media networking sites such as Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram strongly affect a person’s’ attention and participatory structures, along with the effects it has our wants,needs, and interpretations of people, persons, and things. All of which will be justified and supported through research of willing individuals and attestable written resources. The end-result will be presented in the form of short short film/video of some sort which will be posted to Mariah Rajah’s e-portfolio site.

Introduction:

Throughout the semester we have covered a wide range of topics but in all of them we always seemed to return the topic of availability. We question time and time again that in this day in age is it possible to be unavailable? And what does it actually mean to be unavailable in a world where not being able to reach someone is a sign of tardiness and carelessness.When thinking of a possible project idea the focus was drawn on three main topics that are of interest:

  1. Availability
  2. Attention structures
  3. Participation

After focusing in on these three topics the realization came that they each play a part in tackling the question of, “Do we have the ability to ever become completely unavailable? ” First of all, availability is by far one of the biggest affordances and constraints of the internet. Social media has allowed us to constantly be in touch. We can tag, track, and see when we’ve read each other’s messages. All of these affordances have in a way lead us to always be online even when we aren’t. Being available online means you are expected to participate in conversation both personal and global.

As an individual of an online community you have the responsibility to share, comment and create and if you do not you are therefore doing that community a disservice. Your participation is always needed and wanted on both your and your audiences’ end. This want and need to participate ultimately allows us to choose whether we are or are not available.  It also means that you are aware of what is going on around you and you are in a way forced to take part or else you are “creeping”. Being available has also had an impact in the way we divide our attention. What we focus on and how we focus on these things ultimately affects our participation and our availability. These three concepts all interact and interfere with our ability to actually disconnect and become unavailable in a world that demands availability.

Objective:

This project proposes an experiment in which I will purposely disconnect myself from all social media networking sites (such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr)  which I participate in for two weeks.

In those two weeks I will vlog, blog, and capture photographs daily about how I am dealing with not being available online. Since a large portion of the project will be reflections I plan to capture this by doing daily vlogs that give detailed descriptions as to how I am dealing with the disconnect.

In tracking this I want to highlight the shift in myself and the transition from an avid online user to someone who has become “unavailable”:

  1. In order for this project to be executed properly test subject  will research how other people have dealt with taking breaks from social networking sites (via online resources: Videos, articles, etc.)  and interview colleagues; then compare this to self-assessed criteria in order to accurately record whether or not it is an internal or an external issue that has had the same effects across the board.
  2. By conducting research that almost entirely embarks on the premise of availability and the affordances and constraints it entails, student will try to also highlight the psychological effects this disconnect has upon an individual such as anxiety, worry, detachment etc. Also with the hopes that this project demonstrates that availability has changed our wants,needs, and interpretations of people, persons, and things.
  3. Lastly, in this project student wishes to prove that there is a way by which we can become unavailable in a world that desires for everyone to constantly be online and involved.

Deliverables:

As the nature of this project is to produce multimodal aspects I hope to:

  1. Capture daily videos reflection that track my changes in behavior (participation & attention), needs, wants, interpretations, and emotions. (which will be posted on openlab e-portfolio by the end of each day for the 2 weeks)
  2. Photographs that highlight how I spend my time in being ‘unavailable’. Which will be accompanied with short captions/posts as to explain the thoughts and noticed changes. **all which will include hyperlinks to sources that either support or argue against points** (which will be posted on openlab e-portfolio by the end of the day)
  3. PowerPoint presentation at the end of experiment to showcase learnt experiences, changes, and understandings of how unavailability effects more than what we think it does.
  4. In its entirety, answer what I have found the answer to be for the question: “What does it mean to be unavailable?”

Target Questions for Daily Vlogs:

  1. How are you feeling today without your online presence?
  2. Have you noticed a change in yourself?
  3. How has your relationship with your smart device changed?
  4. What other activities have you been participating in?
  5. How has your attention shifted? Has it shifted?
  6. Do you appreciate the new found freedom that comes along with not participating in online social media networking sites?
  7. What is the biggest and hardest part of this transition?

Projected Timeline:

Initial starting date- TBA

  • First two weeks – document and capture the ‘unavailable’ time period. Keep detailed records in reflections that will allow myself to compile an archive as to which draw information from for film.
  • After initial steps are taken next step will be to begin the editing process as to allow enough time to properly capture essence of project.
  • Further capture video, composite adequate research which adds to an archive that will support short film and answers the question of unavailability.

Research Materials:

  1. What Does Profile Unavailable Mean on Facebook?
  2. 7 Important Reasons to Unplug and Find Space
  3. Get Off The Internet: A Challenge to Reconnect With Yourself
  4. Facebook effects on social distress: Priming with online social networking thoughts can alter the perceived distress due to social exclusion
  5. When Your Smartphone Is Too Smart for Your Own Good: How Social Media Alters Human Relationships
  6. Measuring Emotional Contagion in Social Media
  7. Generation Z: Technology and Social Interest

Resources to be Used: TBA

One thought on “Becoming Unavailable

  1. Thanks Mariah for this revised proposal. It’s almost there! Please revise according to the feedback I provided and the discussion we had in our in-class conference, especially in terms of defining what you mean by “unavailable” and the restrictions yo are self-imposing for this experiment (let me know when it is updated and ready to be looked at again).

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