I found the “Internet-Age Writing Syllabus and Course Overview” to be extremely relevant and significant in our current generation. It seems that more and more each day, social media is overtaking more traditional forms of communication and expression such as reading a book, talking face-to-face, etc. The transition from physically writing a story or opening a book to depending solely on social media not only minimizes our potential as writers/readers, it also threatens our ability to show any form of creativity. In week six of the syllabus, the article notes that, “Students will acquire the tools needed to make their tweets come alive with shallow wit” (4). Clearly, the author of the syllabus wants to send the message that the creativity required to come up with an intriguing tweet, Facebook status, etc., pales in comparison to the amount of artistic creativity used to write a book, essay, etc. To further elaborate on this idea of squandered creativity, I have included an article by author J.T. Ellison in which she describes how social media threatens a writer’s creative potential and how easily social media can become a distraction to any writer.
After reading the syllabus, I did not get the impression that the article was dismissing social media in its entirety. If used for a reasonable amount of time, it can be quite useful in reconnecting with old friends, keeping up with current events, etc. However, it is the obsession with these sites that this article is criticizing and mocking. Constantly being connected to Instagram, Twitter, etc. often leads us to distance ourselves from the actual relationships that exist right in front of us. In the syllabus, attendance is considered to be, “Unnecessary, but students should be signed onto IM and/or have their phones turned on” (5). This policy of attendance clearly pokes fun at the idea that an individual can use their phone or other electronic device to stand in for them and count as attendance in a physical, social environment. Just as much as a phone can be a convenience, it can also be used as a way to isolate ourselves from all that is happening right in front of us. How many times have you sat on a bus or in a classroom and noticed how many people were on their phones? Instead of facing any kind of social awkwardness in an unfamiliar setting, this syllabus points out how easy it is to hide behind our phones due to all the entertainment social media has to offer us. To further show how much phones can pull us away from our own lives, I have included a video which tries to encourage people to step away from all their electronic devices and play a more active role in their own lives.
One last point made in this syllabus which really grabbed my attention was under Section Three which claims that, “Students will learn inside knowledge about the industry—getting published, getting paid…and asses why all the aforementioned are no longer applicable in the postprint, post-reading age” (5). As an English major, I am seriously considering entering the publishing and/or writing field as a career path. Aside from threatening one’s creativity and isolating them from others, this high dependence on social media also threatens this entire field of writing and publishing. This means that not only are people’s creative potentials at stake, but also their ability to make a living doing what they love. I really appreciated this part of the syllabus because it made a point which I had not initially considered: this transition away from books and writing lengthier pieces is an economic issue just as much as a social one. Even though this syllabus is definitely a satirical piece, it helped me to realize the importance of reading/writing more and trying to find a reasonable balance between using social media and remaining an active agent within my own life.