While Digital Literacy introduces ideas such as communicating in the 21st century digital world in adaptation to new and more accessible technology, the subject far too often does not extend to the specific sacrifices that must be made in order for this technology to be accessible. It’s safe to assume that the increasing number of blogs and social media connections allow for the decrease in paper products therefore providing audiences with the illusion of a decreased carbon footprint. However, this is simply that – an illusion. The improvements do not account for the sacrifices made by the workers, the amount of energy being used, and the fact that we, as citizens, still have a long way to go to reach sustainable journalism. These ideas are further investigated in Mobile by Nick Dyer-Witheford and Unsustainable Journalism by Toby Miller.
In Mobile, Nick Dyer-Witheford introduces the exploitation and appropriation of workers involved in creating cell phones; something that we, as consumers, far too often overlook. On the contrary, we choose to continually use our devices day-in and day-out without taking a few minutes to consider the type of work that potentially went into creating this handheld powerhouse. As he quotes Marx, cell phones and their frequent use are “constantly involved in the technological ‘annihilation of space through time’ even while continuing to move through space… that accompanies the global circulation of commodities – including the most migrant of commodities, human labor power,” (103). Dyer-Witheford goes on to the explain the “highly exploitative and hazardous work” involved in the production of cell phones, including the conditions that workers must go through in order to produce these devices – while continually being required to have one themselves.
Toby Miller takes a different approach in Unsustainable Journalism. As I mentioned previously, the perception that using the latest iPhone or Android, or updated your tablet every two years is saving the environment by eliminating paper use is just one large façade when you consider the amount of energy being used to operate these devices. Miller makes this argument a little more clear in his work; he states, “the average e-reader uses 33 pounds of minerals; a paper book uses two-thirds of a pound […] the amount of time per day that electricity is used for digital reading […] must be factored into determining environmental impacts. Current research indicates that reading online for half an hour equates to 90 minutes of watching television or the printing of a newspaper,” (655). This goes on to imply that whenever consumers are under the impression they are being environmentally sound by choosing technology rather than ‘old school’ methods, they should think about the amount of energy that is going into make these devices function.
In my experience, I am an avid user of technology – I am a child of the digital age, or a digital native, if you will. Social media is my strongest connection to other parties and my cell phone is never outside of my site. However, throughout the readings by Nick Dyer-Witheford and Toby Miller, I started to think more. The amount of energy that is truly going into creating the devices that we feel the need to update every two years is absolutely astounding. With that said, I certainly intend to decrease my use; where it may not help too much on a global scale, every fire starts with a spark.
Dyer-Witheford, N. (2015). Mobile. In Cyber-Proletariat: Global Labor in the Digital Vortex(pp. 102-123). London: Pluto Press.
Miller, T. (2015). Unsustainable Journalism. Digital Journalism, 3(5), 653-663. Retrieved April 21, 2017, from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21670811.2015.1026683