A Social Vacation

In Lauren Parajon’s Social Media Today article, “A Social Vacation: How To Maximize ROI on Facebook,” she explains her search for online reviews of honeymoon destinations. While she found many reviews, they did not seem genuine, prompting Parajon to turn to Facebook and Twitter for more authentic assessments of various resorts. She wanted to see live pictures and to hear from the people at the hotel while they were in the moment; she wanted real time information.

In Nancy Baym’s book, Personal Connections in the Digital Age, she discusses social discourses such as social shaping and technological determinism in new media technologies. Throughout most of Parajon’s article she explains technology as social shaping; that technology is used as a co-production between what the specific technology allows users to do, and what users want to use the technology to accomplish. She mentions how she visited online trip advising sites such as TripAdvisor and Expedia, where there are reviews of numerous hotels and resorts. People naturally want to share their feelings and thoughts about their experiences at hotels and technology is used as an outlet to share these opinions. People can become obsessed with making sure their view is heard and spread to others, so they use technology as a medium to achieve this goal. This is a co-production between technology and users because these websites allow people to share their ideas and at the same time users want to utilize these websites to post and spread their thoughts.

Parajon’s article also demonstrates technology as social shaping when she discusses her success in finding real-time information about hotels through Facebook and Twitter. Similarly to the trip review websites, social media sites allow people to post pictures, statements, reviews and share ideas all in the precise moment. While this technology allows users to take these actions, users are simultaneously actually eager to use these mediums to post everything in real-time. This can also be argued to be technological deterministic. In her search, Parajon claims, “I wanted to know what was happening right then and there,” as if the Internet had significant power over her. She needed the immediate information and the technology compelled her to search for real-time inquiry.

In her article “Sociable Media,” Judith Donath explains sociable media as “media that enhance communication and the formation of social ties among people.” Parajon was desperately seeking genuine information regarding resorts for a very special vacation. Turning to sociable media completely shaped her search for the vacation, as she was able to connect and hear from people through media. She explains that it is crucial for companies to maintain wonderful social media sites, as she understands that people today are heavily impacted by sociable media. Just as Parajon’s trip was directly affected by the social connections she made through media, people across the globe make many decisions alike that are heavily based on their communication interactions through social mediums. Donath’s idea of asynchronous media, in which participants communicate independently, also plays a major role in Parajon’s argument. While Parajon was seeking real time reviews, she did not have to be physically present and face-to-face with someone to hear genuine feedback about resorts. Instead, she was able to search on her own time for statements made by people at other times.

In David Beer’s article “Social Networking Sites…Revisiting the Story So Far: A Response to Danah Boyd & Nicole Ellison,” he explains the thought-provoking concept of “separating out online from offline” and how it is hard (probably nearly impossible for most of us) to think of a life offline. He questions why we should even try to understand technologies by separating them from our daily, real lives and even continues to question if “there is such a thing as an online and an offline in the context of SNS.” Parajon would argue that our online and offline lives are definitely not separated. She was searching on social mediums to discover information to apply to real life experiences. If what she found online would not directly pertain to her “real life” decisions, then she would have searched for reviews and information on hotels strictly through people and face-to-face interactions. Parajon explains that Sabor Resort in Cozumel had “the most hardcore online community of superfans I’d ever seen.” While these fans showed their support and love for the resort, these feelings most have come from real life experiences when they physically experienced Sabor. This is a clear instance as to why online and offline life through social networks should not be separated.

Parajon’s article was an interesting read. Even though searching for a vacation spot is a relatively small aspect of the benefits of social media today, she clearly demonstrates how much social media impacts our lives. Often my peers and I may not realize the impacts of social media in shaping our decisions. It was eye opening to explore this depiction of social medias’ influence on everyday life.

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