Before the mid 80’s, access to computers, related technology and the media was limited to TV, radio, film and print. Since then, there has been continuous access to new technologies, which have expanded an individual’s access to the world. According to McLuhan (1964), “the globe has been contracted into a village by electric technology and an instantaneous movement of information”. With this, the concept of ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ has some what been eradicated and replaced with ‘digital visitors’ and ‘digital residents’.
White and Cornu (2011) state that the concept of digital ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’ provides an insight into how people behave when interacting with technology, disregarding factors such a demographics and looking further into psychological and sociocultural factors, such as behaviour. Visitors are simply users, not members of the Internet, therefore placing little value into belonging to online communities such as YouTube. The description of ‘visitors’ is one that fits with those from the older generation who are comfortable with using technology simply to book a holiday or search local restaurants. These visitors are unlikely to have an online profile as they prefer to communicate the old fashion way, through telephone, email and face-to-face.
In comparison, ‘residents’, such as myself and I’m sure many on this course, use the Internet as a point of interaction. For many of us, social spheres such as Facebook and Instagram have expanded our openness to the web and the ways in which we can easily interact with online communities, simply by the click of a mouse. For residents, technology fosters the idea of a conglomerate yet unified global community and YouTube personifies this. As a frequent user of YouTube, I’m able to gain advice and follow the lives of those from all over the world. Through this, common interests and concerns are established. As a blogger, frequent user of Instagram and shamefully someone who thinks they can’t live without technology, I think its safe to say I’m a resident.
Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, I feel that the Internet (when used correctly) provides us with endless opportunities. However, it is important to mention, especially in regards to residents, that being dependent on online profiles formed, can affect the ways in which we interact with people on a day-to-day basis. The fact that many of us have more ‘friends’ on Facebook than we actually have in real life is worrying!