The Addictive Nature of the Web: Having a Presence in the Present

Within the Von Neuman architectural structure, there are two distinct components of a system. As applies to the internet, there is a processing unit and a storage unit; on the outside of the system, there is an input box and an output box. Social media can help us to understand this structure.

Robert Gehl discusses how Facebook has been able to perpetuate this system in a way that offers the user a very real sense of presence within the present, while following the Von Neuman architecture. To break it down, social media emphasizes immediacy through the speed of your Facebook news feed and the instantaneous nature in which you can communicate, or “chat” with friends. With the ability to create a profile and perpetuate and share your life happenings on the internet with all of your friends offers a sense of presence, regardless of how intangible it is. Because Facebook allows immediate posting, it represents the virtual present. Gehl claims that this sense of having a large and tangible presence has made Facebook-ing an addicting and necessary component of life for millions of people.

In my mind, digital culture and immediacy go hand-in-hand. Today’s culture as a whole is customized, individualistic, and faster than ever before. Being able to find information about anything at any point (i.e. the internet) has made us addicted to faster and faster – something that Gehl touches upon frequently. An aspect that seems to be missing in Gehl’s analysis is an all-too-familiar theme on my blog, micro-targeting. With the innovation of such targeting advertisement, it is easy to be sufficiently freaked out when the ray-bans you were looking at earlier find their way into the side-bar of your Facebook News Feed. However, this is just another component of the immediacy that we crave in today’s society; it’s certainly something to think about.

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