What I think is especially interesting about this issue is that “social” networks that are made to connect people have actually been shown to make us lonelier (http://vimeo.com/70534716). It’s easy to think that loneliness equals laziness because we have all of these tools to bring us closer to our friends, but it can also do exactly the opposite when we are not with them. We constantly see all the things that we are NOT doing.
That’s interesting to think about usernames when considering true identity. I agree with you that people are much more hesitant to comment or share content on Facebook because it will forever be attached to them. Instagram makes it even more permanent. At the least on Facebook you can change your preferences and erase enough information to hide much of what you choose to share. On Instagram you cannot edit or delete a comment. The publisher of the picture must delete the entire post. People are much more likely to be truthful when their name is not attached. I agreed with many of Hogan’s points about usernames and thought about how Instagram just erased thousands of “throwaway” accounts and had an uprising because most of their users, including myself, lost a lot of followers.
I thought I was the only one to hear about the Yik Yak response to the bridge protest. That protest, of course, was going to be a controversial event and public issue. I realized how biased social media platforms could be when I really started paying to the different platforms during some of our recent public controversies and events (President Obama’s State of the Union, police brutality, and so on). It is eye opening the things people will say when their name is not attached to the statement. I feel their true identity comes out when they do not have to worry about the repercussions of their actions. The comments from some of these threads can appear to be just as bias as the title at times. Social media is meant to be a public forum to express opinions, but I see some of the same things you see as social media becomes more and more biased.
I might be jumping the gun here because we haven’t talked about collective action yet, but I wanted to jot down a couple of thoughts that have solidified over the course of the last week.
Yik Yak this week has been ridiculously active with pretty polarizing political statements, many of which were surrounding the recent shutdown of the San Mateo bridge. The hashtag #stanford68, or I guess now #stanford69, was also created in response to this event. Opinions about the protest that shut down the bridge were already pretty split when the event first happened, but a few days ago the student email newsletter The Fountain Hopper (commonly known as FoHo) released new information regarding the shutdown. In particular, FoHo mentioned that there was a 3-year-old girl who had to be transported to the ER for a medical emergency and faces possible brain damage because she was stuck in the car that was stuck on the bridge during the shutdown.
I’m not here to discuss politics (partly because I am also conflicted, but more importantly because this is not what I’m writing about). I was glued to Yik Yak when news about this went out, and was surprised to see how many negative comments there were about the protestors. I tried looking for countering statements, but there were only a couple at best. It really seemed like the Stanford community hated the protests and the Stanford student protestors.
I was reminded of the “vocal minority,” and wonder how that plays a role now in social media. With Yik Yak, it’s so easy to erase someone’s comment – as long as 5 people downvote the statement (and it can be for any reason), it’ll be deleted from the newsfeed. I wonder how public opinion can become biased through outlets like Yik Yak – what if seeing so many criticisms on Yik Yak raise the confidence of those are against the protest, but in reality the majority of the student population is one that is neutral, apathetic, still trying to understand? Or on the other side, what if I am neutral and want to find out more about this issue? If I go onto Yik Yak, I’m going to assume that most of the student population was against this event, which might sway me in that same direction. Yik Yak can definitely be humorous (and I think it should be), but this was the first time I saw how quickly social media shifted focus to bring a specific event to the spotlight. I was always aware that our traditional platforms of media are biased, but I didn’t realize how quickly social media platforms can become as well.
Yeah, I definitely had a period of time after sophomore year where I didn’t think I could continue with the team because I was getting frustrated with not only the internal structure of the team, but also how I felt socially tired of all the members. I then went abroad last quarter, and realized that they were like family – no matter how much they can be annoying at times, I did indeed miss the community (Alliance helped me meet people from the dance community in general, but I would love to know if there is overlap for Stanford athletics as well!).
I thought it was very interesting that you talk about the concept of loneliness, and I am reminded of an article on thoughtcatalog that actually talks about the difference between being lonely and being alone. In a sentence, it argues that being lonely is what we commonly think of, the negative, isolated, unwanted feeling, but being alone simply means you’re comfortable in your own skin and to be in your own company. Maybe it’s because I’m a relatively independent person, but I truly believe that it’s necessary and healthy to feel alone once in a while. It takes a lot of confidence, in my opinion, to be comfortable with having nothing to do or to go to the movie theater alone. I sometimes worry that social media makes being alone seem unacceptable, loser-y, almost taboo by society?
Social media has enhanced our lives in so many ways its hard to name each of them. Another reason its hard to name each of them is because social media serves a different purpose for each of us. I think with these enhancements comes the responsibility of remembering what social media and technology makes easier. Social media and technology innovations has changed the world we live in for the better if used effectively. Social media connects us to virtually everyone, but some of the social skills should not be forgotten to pass along to generations to come. These basic social skills need to be passed along because it teaches delayed-gratification, self-discipline, and needed face-to-face communication skills. These skills are what some of our fundamental social skills are built upon. One that comes to mind is the development of patience that is learned through older communication methods. Developing patience comes from a collection of experiences and stages of maturity in life; one aspect of these of experiences that have significantly changed is instantaneously communication. The patience used in the process of writing/ sending a written letter is completely different than quickly writing an email. Since the mailing process takes significantly more time than the emailing process, the care and thoughtfulness differs. In a written letter, you take your time to make sure everything is perfect from the address to the closing remarks. In contrast, writing an email is normally quick and rushed; a majority of the time emails are sent from mobile devices so they are normally written on the go. This is a drastic example, but it does illustrate how a luxury such as emails have affected our physical lives and behaviors.
There are many reason to communicate ranging from it being part of our human nature to the need to transfer information. Another contributing factor is loneliness. Loneliness is a very basic feeling and a simple reason for human interaction is to not feel lonely. I think today’s technology has transformed our daily lives to always being plugged in and available to be reached at anytime. I think this thought of always being connected has changed how people experience loneliness. Before smart phones were affordable for everyone and before wifi was everywhere, people had to plan to use the internet (people also had to plan their time on the internet) because it wasn’t the limitless power source we know it to be today. During these times, people could actually have a few minutes maybe even hours to feel loneliness in the traditional sense. Loneliness upheld its true definition during these times which seem like the dark ages to our generation. Today’s definition of loneliness has a different vibe to it than it once did. Today, I think the meaning of lonely is more so frown upon with confusion because of the amount of effort it takes to be in the traditional sense lonely. I think the change of having the option to always be available changes how loneliness is perceived. The social network built through social media platforms are easily accessible through many outlets (normally more than one). Being virtually by yourself is almost impossible, and for many people that is enough to fulfill their need for human interaction.
I would argue that we absolutely do have other kinds of computers that we interact with on an every day basis. Tons of things in our every day lives branched off at different points in the development of the computer. Our calculators are early computers in a smaller form, our cars have tons of computerized electronics that don’t have a mouse or keyboard yet are still interactive. iPods used a click wheel and did all the things offline computers do minus word processing, iPads are computers with touchscreens… the list goes on and on.
That said, I think our kids are going to be living in a world full of anachronisms like ‘developing pictures’, the # symbol as ‘hashtag’ not ‘pound’, ‘mixtape’, and others that will make as little sense to them as some of the things you described made to you until you had those realizations.
Also – the save button we still use is a floppy disk, which hopefully will last forever and confuse kids of the future until the end of time.
While reading Hogan’s article and thinking to myself, “mmhmm. yup. yes. agreed.” etc., I realized that it’s the thing I value most about Reddit as a social network. His general premise, that “real name sites” like Facebook are necessarily inadequate for free speech, represents exactly why redditors feel that our site is such a cohesive online community.
Hogan’s point that real name sites deny people the right to be context specific is effectively countered by the site’s username system. Because though an individual user’s comments can be seen by anyone, his or her screen name cannot be traced back to him or her unless he or she decides to share that information in comments. As a result, users can provide honest answers and/or support to difficult questions about addiction, loss, secrets, legal, political, or relationship issues. They can very easily create “throwaway” accounts for this exact purpose so that even those who interact with them on other parts of the site don’t know about this side of a particular user. In this way individuals are never “[tethered] to a single all-encompassing key (the real name) that unlocks whatever [they] say.”
Whenever I see an article on ESPN on which I might ordinarily weigh in, I hesitate because it requires my thoughts to be forever inseparably linked to my Facebook profile and therefore my identity. However, if that article is shared as a link on Reddit, I will almost definitely share my thoughts.
Finally, Reddit deals with the necessary problem of curation when a site has a constantly updating feed full of millions of people’s content by allowing the content to be democratically voted on by the site’s users based on whether that content adds to the site or takes away from it. This way you are placing your trust in the community to decide who should read your content, rather than a single individual or company.