This here, is home. “Eulola” is our family property, which is 90 years old and full of stories. Not long ago, I was sitting at the table in the dining room, on my laptop and absent mindedly scrolling through my Facebook feed. I got to thinking. What would it have been like to live here 100 years ago? What would the young 20-year-old sitting right here, at this table, have been doing before the time of technology and social media?
As a millennial, I am constantly connected to technology, but this is obviously not news to anyone. Webb et al. (2011, p.11) report that students at an age similar to my own “reported using Facebook approximately thirty minutes throughout the day as part of their daily routine”. I would have to disagree with this statement, and admit that my usage of Facebook, and other social media channels, is much, much greater. From the moment I wake up, I check my phone, look at emails while eating breakfast, sit with a computer in front of me all day at uni… it goes on and on and on.
And then I look at my parents. In this same space at home, their experience is so much different to my own. They both leave their phones in the kitchen while sleeping, and perhaps watch a bit of ABC news on the television while having breakfast. Neither of them have Facebook, or any other social media platform for that matter. Throughout the day, they are obviously connected to technology (as is to be expected in the modern workspace), yet once they get home, they make a conscious effort to remove its presence during family times such as meals.
The seemingly vast gap between the two generations is a cause of interest for me. Eight in ten Millennials say that the internet has changed their life for the better, while fewer than half of the preceding generation agree (Taylor, 2014).
Perhaps what would be even more curious to investigate would be the media usage of June, the 94 year old woman who grew up in our home before we lived there. What was her experience like with media? What did a day in her life look like within the walls of the “Eulola” homestead?
Over the coming month, I am hoping to conduct some ethnographic research into “A Day in the Life” of each generation, within the single space of my home. I would like to investigate how each of these media experiences differ across the three generations, despite the physical location of the home remaining unchanged. Primarily, this will be conducted by both interviews, as well as videoing and monitoring over the course of a day. In doing so, I will strive to maintain MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics, to ensure my research is carried out respectfully, fairly, truthfully and honestly.
Beyond this, it is important that my collaborative ethnographic research serves a purpose for my participants. According to Lassiter, it is our responsibility as researchers to “serve others through our work”, with a process of sharing imperative as “we may lose what we have by keeping it to ourselves” (2005). I hope that my participants will find value in the research through reminiscing on the past and comparing their own life experiences to different generations.
Lassiter, L E 2005, ‘Defining a Collaborative Ethnography’, An excerpt from The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography, viewed 20 August 2017, <press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/468909.html>.
Taylor, P 2014, The Next America: Boomers, Millennials and the Looming Generational Showdown, Public Affairs, New York.
Webb, L, Wilson, M, Hodges, M, Smith P, and Zakeri, M 2011, “Facebook, How College Students Work It”, in Noor Al-Deen, H and Hendricks, J (eds.) Social Media: Usage and Impact, Lexington Books, United Kingdom, pp.11-30.
(Feature image: Author’s Own)