Miles Apart

June 12, 2010 at 8:10 PM (Uncategorized)

The Internet seems almost ideal with search engines that have answers to almost every question you can think of and access to free movies and games, and much, much more. In fact, the Internet consists of so much that it is almost like its own world. You can easily get lost in the billion of sites, and find yourself consumed for hours on end while your homework sits idly undone next to you. Through experiments involving the internet and social interactions as well as several articles that related to each experiment, I learned a lot. Socially, the Internet provides networking sites and tools to easily keep in touch with people as well as online communities and alternative sim worlds where you can create your own persona or identity and meet people that way. While these tools are great ways to enhance relationships or even make an initial connection with a person, contact in the offline world is necessary because replacing face-to-face social interactions with false internet connections through online communities and other sites leads to social awkwardness and reserved tendencies in real-life situations to ultimately bring people further apart.

In the article, “The Benefit of Facebook Friends”, it asserts that the majority of facebook users use the site for the maintenance of social ties rather than to meet new people. I have found this to be true because I am reluctant to add people I do not know as “friends”.  While facebook helps with maintaining friendships, you cannot rely on it to solely maintain a friendship. The absence of a physical presence creates remoteness from the physical world. You can only connect so much through online chatting, but it cannot make up for actually being together. Replacing an offline connection with an online one will cause a disconnection in the relationship because online relationships are limited to a 2-D world of chatting and games and videos. A big part of bonding with a person is doing activities together. Scientifically speaking, “pheromones are secreted or excreted chemical factors that trigger a social response in members of the same species” (Wikipedia), but physical distance will inhibit pheromones that cause affection and help bond humans together from acting. People need smell, touch, sight, or sound to maintain a bond. While Skype helps with long distance relationships because it provides a visual and audio experience, it seems unusual to replace Skype as a form of communication with someone when they are in proximity to be able to see each other offline.

As seen in my last experiment (Experiment #9), “Happiness and the Internet”, I discovered that I was happier offline than online because of my level of productivity, but ironically I spent more time online than offline.  Putnam introduces this age of Internet users as a “me-oriented generation” (7) in the article “Happiness and the Internet” because time on the Internet is spent on entertainment for self-interest, and takes away from time that could be spent doing something for someone else like community service. The Internet seems more convenient as a source of information and a place of activity, but really it promotes laziness and inactivity because of the lack of effort it requires. For example, a store manager is more likely to hire someone who comes into the store asking for an application, than someone who sent in an application online. 

Online communities are great for answering questions and meeting people with similar interests, but while time is spent debating with strangers, the physical community around you becomes hostile because no one knows each other well enough to establish a foundation of trust. We look to online communities nowadays more often than offline communities because we can categorize communities by our own interests rather than having to discover what someone’s interests are. Also, it is easier to jump into an online community where no introduction is required because your name and interests are already listed than to work up the nerve to introduce yourself to someone. Easier does not necessarily make something better because ‘easier’ excuses someone from overcoming their social fears, and creates awkwardness and reserved tendencies in real life. The easy accessibility and ample information provided by the Internet may just be leading our society to one controlled by our trivial pleasures, and block out our need to communicate and interact with the rest of humanity as Aldous Huxley predicted in his book, Brave New World.  In the book, families were eliminated, and people were separated into classes that determined their occupation. People in the highest class could seek out all the pleasures they desired with silly games and endless amounts of soma because it was a self-interest society with no affection or feeling for another person. A self-driven society will drive people apart and ultimately lead to a downfall of society because people depend on others to function such as for health care or education, and a world without love can only lead to destruction.

Works Cited

Easter, Jeffery. Happiness and the Internet. Thesis. Royal College of Art, 2007. Print.

Ellison, Nicole B., Charles Steinfield, and Cliff Lampe. “The Benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (2007): 1143-168. Print.

“Pheromone.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation Inc., 3 June 2010. Web. 3 June 2010. <http://www.wikipedia.com&gt;.

Postman, Neil. “The Huxleyan Warning.” Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. New York: Penguin, 1986. 155-63. Print.

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I’ve got the blues

June 5, 2010 at 2:10 PM (Uncategorized)

I am generally a happy person, but because so much of my time is spent online, I’ve never really considered the things that make me happy or the difference between my online and offline happiness. I had to spend a day without internet doing things that make me happy and then a day with the internet doing things that make me happy. My day offline was spent catching up with friends, exercising, reading, and relaxing. Meanwhile, online I played online games, caught up on tv shows, watched youtube videos, and spent a good amount of time on twitter and facebook.  

Overall, I felt much more accomplished offline than I did online. Even though, I had some sort of social interaction both offline and online, facebook is not sufficient enough to hold a friendship. Actually being with is a person is much more fulfilling. There’s a problem when people opt out of hanging out with friends to stay at home on a social networking site; it’s almost like a false sense of socializing. When I go home and get on my computer out of boredom, my mom interprets the act as I would rather be hanging out with my friends than my family, but I don’t think social networking sites can be a substitute for hanging out with friends. Offline, I was actually doing things, but online I could just stay in one spot for the whole day and keep to myself. Putnam argues in the article “Happiness and the Internet” that social capital has decreased as the generation shifts from a “the ‘civic-minded generation of World War II’ to subsequent ‘me-oriented’ generations” (7). This means that in this generation people are more likely to satisfy themselves on the internet than do something for the world and help other people offline. I would have to agree because the time I spent online was very me-oriented versus the proactive time I spent offline.

The article also suggests that identity plays a role in choosing to be online rather than offline because it is easier to identify yourself in a specific way without fear of judgment online than it is to walk around in front of other people offline. I think I spend so much time online because I think with school that I have to or I have this conception that I can entertain myself so much more online. Although it is easy to entertain myself in multiple ways online when I have a million tabs opened up, I always end up feeling unproductive or wasting a lot of time. Maybe it’s time to go back to the old-fashioned way of doing things, such as writing papers on lined paper before transferring them to the computer, printing out reading assignments instead of reading them on the computer, or looking through books for information instead of google. I think devoting more time offline would increase my productivity and therefore my happiness.

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I love him, I love him not…

June 4, 2010 at 12:25 PM (Uncategorized)

If you had asked me what I thought of online dating a couple of weeks ago, I would have laughed. I thought people who signed up for those sites were desperate and lonely and kind of creepy or insecure. I thought there was no way you could build a connection with someone who you found online because there was no way you can really know someone through the internet. After doing an experiment where I signed up with match.com and explored several profiles, my opinion of the process has shifted. I am too skeptical, but if I was not in a serious relationship right now, I would be much more open-minded to online dating.

The people on most of those profiles actually seemed like normal people. Amazing huh? I also didn’t feel threatened by creepy stalkers either because the only way they ca access your personal information is if you give it to them. Actually, I felt like the stalker, analyzing everyone’s profiles. From the article, “Analyzing the Social Demographics of Online Dating in the United States” as well as my experience, I learned that many times people join these sites because they just moved to an area, so they do not know where to go to meet people, and also they might have work hours that limit the time they can go out and meet people.

According to the article, online dating is becoming much more common as internet use increases. Before, the internet was only really prevalent in middle-class, suburban homes, so the pool for internet dating was very limited. Now, as internet is reaching homes across the globe, dating online is like being able to choose from anyone in the world.  

I must admit Im a hopeless romantic, so the idea of prince charming coming for me or love falling on my doorstep still appeals more to me than going out looking for love, as unlikely as that may seem.  But perhaps one day I may find myself in a situation where I open up my laptop and go to an online dating site and browse for the love of my life. But in the meantime, I’m content with my fantasies and wonderful relationship that has resulted from it.

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Oh the Torture!

June 4, 2010 at 11:11 AM (Uncategorized)

A life without internet? Let’s ponder this. Can you imagine it? Perhaps you can if you lived before the 90’s, but for the rest of us, it seems to run our society. For this week, I had to go a full 24 hrs. without internet , not even from my phone. My worries/concerns for this extended beyond facebook, thank you. I was afraid I would get an important email for work or one of my classes or I would miss a deadline because I couldn’t check the internet. Believe it or not, there are other forms of communication, like the old-fashioned face-to-face contact. *gasp* I actually had to prepare for not having internet ie. printing out the readings I would need, asking professors and bosses about assignments, checking facebook to see whose birthdays were the following day, etc. I found I had to physically remove myself from my computer so I would resist temptation. I did a community service event in the morning, hung out with an old friend in the afternoon, and went to the football scrimmage that night. I intentionally picked Saturday because I didn’t want the experiment to interfere my classes. 

While I didn’t get too much school work done, socially I was better than OK. I felt like I was a hermit coming out of my shell because I was visiting and catching up with old friends. I felt active. I have many times been laid up with my computer and been completely consumed for a day as I watched the hours pass by.  The work that I did do was effective because I didn’t have the distractions that the computer offers, such as pandora, twitter, and facebook. I didn’t even realize how much I rely on the internet even when I’m not on the computer. I caught myself using GPS on my phone, as well as watching a movie on the XBOX.

In Neil Postman’s, “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, he contrasts George Orwell and Aldous Huxley’s views about how society will fall. While George Orwell describes thought control by a dominant government in 1984, Postman shows how our society actually leans toward Huxley’s view of the overabundance of pleasure and nonsensical information that drowns out the truth and relevant information. While it is an exaggerated view, it does seem our society is going that way with the availability of so many technological distractions. It reminds me of the bing.com commercial where everyone has been overloaded with information from the search engines. It seems funny, but it’s actually closer to the truth than we think. Huxley prophesied that Americans would kill our culture by our own choice, with Postman agreeing that “technology is ideology” (157). The fact that being away from the internet for just 24 hours was a challenge is just an example that backs up Huxley and Postman’s point. Postman points out that we believe progress is inevitable and that technology is the force behind that progress, instead of being content with our lives or looking for sources besides technology to move forward. Huxley and Postman both urge that the solution to this growing problem is education and consciousness of the dangers that technology will have on our society and culture if it keeps going down this route.

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What can u do for me?

June 4, 2010 at 10:34 AM (Uncategorized)

For this experiment, I had to post 3 questions throughout one week on facebook, such as “can anyone swipe me into the dining hall?” “is anyone driving to the party this weekend?” and “who wants to bust a mission to westwood with me??” As you can see, all of my posts were favors. The goal was to see what kind of responses we would get from our “Facebook friends”. Generally, the responses were fairly quick. However, I noticed people are more willing to answer a question involving knowledge than a favor. 

I agree with the article, “The Benefits of Facebook Friends” that most often Facebook is used as a “maintenance of existing social ties” to gain a better connection online with the offline friends we already have rather than to meet complete strangers. However, meeting strangers and expanding your social network on Facebook could be helpful because it expands the probability of finding what you need. I do not usually add people who I do not know for safety reasons, but sometimes I add people right after meeting them and get to know them better through an online connection. If I did not have an online connection with many of my Facebook friends, I would not be able to help them or answer their questions because I would not know they needed help with something. Whether the connections are with pre-existing friends or new online friends, Facebook will nonetheless increase social capital, or “the resources accumulated through the relationships among people.”

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Somebody’s watching me!

May 14, 2010 at 10:53 AM (Uncategorized)

Facebook would not be a true social networking website if you couldn’t stalk people on it. I stalked someone in my class to see how much information I could get about her from just her facebook page. Here’s what I got:

Nenia Figueroa is a graduating senior, getting her degree in Psychology. She graduated from Colony High School in the class of 2006. She is from Rancho Cucamonga, CA and a lovely Mexicana. She lived in Hedrick her freshman year at UCLA. Her taste in music widely varies from The Cranberries to Beyonce. She has a great musical interest, and sings, plays the guitar, and is learning the drums.  She enjoys romantic comedies as far as movies go. Her birthday is coming up: June 26, which means she is a cancer. She stays a generally happy person, and is not really one for social networking sites. She is very close to her family and has 2 little sisters and maybe a little brother. Her Christian faith is also important to her.

This experiment showed me how much we reveal about ourselves through social networking sites unintentionally through pictures, videos, and conversations. In “A Privacy Paradox Social Networking in the United States“, it explained how everything we do through digital media gets locked in a digital archive to track trends and habits, even everyday tasks such as paying for something with your credit card. The question becomes do we really have the control to limit what is revealed about ourselves or is the internet so necessary that we are in a violation of privacy. Perhaps the problem is that we are unaware of how public the content we post really is. I personally try to only write things online that I would be comfortable with anyone seeing, and it makes it easier when my mom has a facebook. While I have as many privacy settings as possible on my facebook, I’m sure it is still accessible in some kind of way. The article brings up how we do not really know who is using our information on social networking websites for different purposes. For example, schools can use pictures of students drinking against their students even though it may be off-campus. Many jobs look at facebook and myspace profiles before hiring as well. The problem with this is we expect our pictures and comments to only be an exchange between our friends and the people part of our network instead of the whole world. 

I do not have a problem with third parties accessing my facebook because I do not have anything on my profile I feel would restrict me from getting into a school or attaining a job. However, there is a problem if someone were trying to stalk me. I try to prevent this by only adding people I know and putting my privacy settings where only my friends can see my profile. Recently facebook changed its settings, so that everyone’s default setting went to public access, and it didn’t notify any of its users. People need to be aware of who can access their profiles and how much content they actually reveal about themselves. After that, it’s left to personal choice of what you want to reveal.

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Listen to Meee…

April 23, 2010 at 8:23 AM (Uncategorized)

Being the indecisive person that I am, I had a lot of difficulty deciding what kind of community forum I wanted to join. I decided upon a track forum for dyestatcal since I know a lot about the sport, and was a track athlete myself way back in high school. It was amusing, but not something that I would normally participate in since it was very opinionated and consisted of arguments and false information. 

I didn’t know what a community forum was until I googled it and realized that I read them all the time when i have questions about things. Those forums pretty much exist for every type of interest or topic. I remember them being very helpful for AP English when I didn’t understand a poem or reading, and wanted to see how other people analyzed it. However, at the same time, many people just don’t know what they are talking about. I found most of the conversations meaningless because they attacked at each other’s point instead of furthering an intellectual debate. Also, many of the same people would be recurrent on different threads and topics. I guess “the regulars” feed off  this stuff. I think I was mostly annoyed because I wasn’t passionate about any of the discussion topics that I saw. I saw ignorance instead of a chance to be educated. 

I think much deeper conversations come from face-to-face. However, for those people who do not share the same interests as their local “live” community, community forums may just be the way to go. Personally, I think I’ll just visit them when I need an answer to something that Wikipedia can’t tell me. 🙂

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The Wonderful World of Facebook

April 23, 2010 at 7:35 AM (Uncategorized)

So, I have this social networking class, and each week we’re asked to to do a social experiment and blog about it. I’ve never blogged before so bear with me if I ramble, get boring, or am just politically incorrect. I’ll be using my blog mainly for  this class, but after the quarter, depending on how I like the experience I may just continue.

As my title indicates, for our first experiment we were asked to do something with facebook. We had to update our status every 2 hours over a 24 hr. time period, and observe the responses. This was surprisingly a difficult task for me because I am not someone who updates facebook statuses very often. Oh no, I reserve that for twitter. For me, facebook is more for my public service announcements or an expression of myself.  But dont get me wrong, I’ve been sucked into its world for quite some time now. You’d be amazed at how it makes the hours go by, for the few people who haven’t experienced it for themselves already. My experiment was just all the more reason to keep checking my notifications every five minutes. Perhaps the entertainment lies in the attention; someone is actually noticing and taking time to comment on the trivial nonsense I have to say about myself. For a couple of my statuses I intentionally would write something I knew a lot of people would comment on or “like” such as song lyrics and quotes. People like things they can relate to. Have you noticed how the fan pages on facebook have changed from dumb everyday activities to something unique yet relatable like “listening to the sound of the ocean in seashells”? My plan worked and it attracted random people who I am not in very frequent contact with, while my trivial posts about my day received little to no response. 

It was almost scary how many people actually can see what I post. Maybe this has to do with how many people I accept as my “friend” as well. People I have forgotten about because of the loss of communication are really quick to “like” a status. It’s almost like living in a fantasy world when on facebook because in real life, some of these same people will walk by without so much as a hi. On the other hand, facebook and simple statuses can reconnect you with friends that you just have not been able to talk to for awhile. I noticed on some statuses, the initial comment would turn into a full-on conversation of “i miss you”‘s  and “we need to hang out!”‘s.  The hardest part was keeping my statuses appropriate for all audiences as more and more of my family seem to be joining this ever-increasing facebook world. Sometimes the occasional inside joke gets misinterpreted as something serious, scary, or just vulgar, or they just don’t understand. 

So, all-in-all I guess facebook as a line of communication is a give and take, but I do not think it can be relied on as a sole source of communication to keep a relationship with someone. By updating my statuses, I could control how I wanted to be portrayed as insightful, funny, or mysterious in a short period of time without having to even have a conversation with anyone.

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Who am I?

April 23, 2010 at 7:35 AM (Uncategorized)

For my next experiment I had to enter a chat room on http://omegle.com and engage anonymously in a conversation with a stranger for at least 15 minutes. where I convinced them of an alternate persona. Chat rooms are something that I do NOT do. Ever since the possibility of predators and stalkers after myspace blew up, I have stayed away in great fear. So, I was sketchy about this one.  Surprisingly pretending to be someone else came easy…too easy. When I thought of who to portray, I thought of real-life examples of people. I don’t know if this helped the experiment or not. It probably added to my credibility. It was also highly amusing because the person on the other end so willingly believed my act. But then I questioned whether they were like me: pretending to be someone else for fun, or some weirdo looking for some other form of entertainment. 

I portrayed an LA gangsta. I was hoping the person I was talking to would be a female, so I could act like I was interested in her or something to that effect. Throughout our conversation he revealed that his name was Nate and he lived in New Jersey. Tomorrow he would be on his way to visit Williamsburg, VA. He was married and his favorite football team is the Eagles. I used language such as “man”, “cuhz”, vulgarity, and abbreviated most of my words to play the part. I could have easily found out a lot more personal information or spiced the conversation up to humor myself, but perhaps it was a little bit of fear that held me back. If we were reversed, I could have been seriously stalked!  

I wasn’t expecting people to be so open, but I guess the purpose of a chat room is to open yourself up to other people without the awkwardness of being face-to-face. The weirdest part of the conversation was when we first connected, he said, “you promise not to disconnect?” It low-key scared me because I was wondering why would/should I disconnect.  I didn’t know what kinds of things he was about to say. The conversation was actually kind of boring. I always associated chat rooms with weirdos/pedophiles and geeks who live in their mom’s basement, but I could see it being fun to just talk to someone as a past time when no one is online on facebook or answering their cell phone.

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