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The Impact of Social Networking on Society

CmdrTaco posted about 8 years ago | from the jennifer-aniston-won't-be-my-friend dept.

115

Anonymous Pingu writes "The latest edition of New Scientist has a series of features on social networking. These include an analysis of the impact on our social attitudes by Sherry Turkle, a feature on the possible privacy implications of using sites like MySpace and Friendster, and a short science fiction piece by Bruce Sterling. It's certainly interesting that so many people post very revealing stuff about themselves on these sites."

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It's making life worse (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16145551)

Turns out other people suck, and the more people you know, the more life sucks.

Had a feeling (4, Funny)

MECC (8478) | about 8 years ago | (#16145553)

"For some people, things move from "I have a feeling, I want to call a friend" to "I want to feel something, I need to make a call". . . "You can give media culture a positive spin and say that people are more socially enmeshed, but it has a darker side: as a feeling emerges, people share the feeling to see if they have the feeling."

I was thinking of sharing something about how the article seemed to confuse the act of verifying the existance of a feeling and sharing a feeling actually experienced with others in order to solicite validation, but then I thought about putting up with the modbots at /., and I experienced a feeling ( and I didn't need to check to see if I actually had the feeling, because I directly experienced that feeling) - nausea.

Re:Had a feeling (2, Funny)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | about 8 years ago | (#16145652)

just as the 60's saw the age of hippies, we are now seeing the age of emo. what better way to describe how miserable your life is than to tell it to the world (or the six people who actually care to read about it)

Re:Had a feeling (2, Insightful)

jesuscyborg (903402) | about 8 years ago | (#16146266)

and the future employer googling your name

Re:Had a feeling (1)

cp.tar (871488) | about 8 years ago | (#16146576)

The future employer will be so emo (s)he won't care.

Re:Had a feeling (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#16145986)

Why would I need someone to confirm that I have a feeling? If I feel something, I know that I feel something, thank you very much!

Re:Had a feeling (0, Redundant)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 years ago | (#16146550)

> Why would I need someone to confirm that I have a feeling?
> If I feel something, I know that I feel something, thank you very much!
> --
> In Soviet Russia, the government controls the commerce.

In Soviet Russia, government feels YOU!

Re:Had a feeling (2, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 8 years ago | (#16145992)

We feel your pain.

The Social Stigma (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 8 years ago | (#16145592)

Interesting articles but I have a very basic question: Where do we get the social stigma associated with "meeting someone online"?

We're humans. We're a gregarious species. Whenever something arises that allows us to interact with people, it's usually a good thing. But tell your parents that you met someone online and you're dating them -- hell tell anyone -- that and more often than not, they'll disapprove.

Why? What causes this? Even the summary said it's amazing how much personal stuff people are willing to put online, isn't this a good thing if you're trying to get to know someone?

I've heard people say that only weird people are online and that you're taking serious risks ... but I've also seen percentages that show you're just as likely to meet a deviant at a bar as on MySpace or Friendster.

The only possible explanation I can find for this is the "it's different so it's wrong" approach a lot of people take to new things. I don't know if it's an ultra conservative viewpoint or just fear of the unknown that drives this social stigma against meeting people online.

Re:The Social Stigma (3, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | about 8 years ago | (#16145643)

Interesting articles but I have a very basic question: Where do we get the social stigma associated with "meeting someone online"?

The Media. Let's face it: for as many positive stories you will find about the power of the Internet, you will find 5 times as many stories about things wrong with the Internet (phishing, privacy issues, child molesters, social repression, odd personal behavior, pornography, data loss, etc.). So "meeting someone online" carries the connotation that anyone you meet through some online medium must be tainted, somehow crazed or weird or just odd. When in fact, the subset of humanity we put in those categories is probably no greater on the Internet than it is in the global population.

Social networking is just an enhancement of your neighborhood, with global reach. And just like their may be "weirdoes" on your block you know nothing of, the same can be said of the Internet.

Re:The Social Stigma (2, Insightful)

jizziknight (976750) | about 8 years ago | (#16145654)

The problem I see with meeting someone online is that you're not quite sure if they are who they say they are. People make stuff up online to seem nicer/cooler/stronger/1337/whatever. Just look at how people show off their e-peens on /.. People also tend to just have different personalities or personas online. For instance, one of my friends (a male) is almost always female online. In games, on websites, everything.

I see these as potentially huge problems because what if that cute 12 year old girl you met last night is really 35 year old fat bald Russian? Or even worse, a police officer?

Jokes and sarcasm aside, my point remains.

Re:The Social Stigma (2, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | about 8 years ago | (#16145763)

People put on faces in real life as well in any number of ways. Some people like to appear richer than they are. Some people present a happy face on a sad/angry family life. Some people seem friendly while only out for themselves.

Re:The Social Stigma (3, Insightful)

jizziknight (976750) | about 8 years ago | (#16145957)

True, but that sort of thing is much easier to do and much easier to get away with online, especially when you can pretend to be someone completely different. In person, it's much more difficult, since your bodly language will often give away your false "face". It's not that you can do these sorts of things online, it's how easy it is to do them when compared to meeting someone in person.

Re:The Social Stigma (1)

anagama (611277) | about 8 years ago | (#16146643)

True -- it is easier online, but less effective perhaps. For example, if you are trying to get laid and present yourself as Mr. Buff Superdink -- it's very easy to get away with it online but as soon as you try to meet Ms. Hottie, she'll see the pot belly, the slouch and all other parts of the deception. Real life deceit is more difficult, but also perhaps more effective. Look at all the brown-nosers and sociopaths who get promoted ever higher for good examples.

Re:The Social Stigma (1)

jizziknight (976750) | about 8 years ago | (#16146853)

Yes, also true. But say you're a loony and don't actually care about forming a real relationship, and are really just looking for your next victim (whatever that may entail). It would be much easier for you to do this online without your victim being suspicious. So when you finally get them to agree to meet you, the online "you" doesn't show, they get pissed and go home, while the real you tails them and kidnaps them in a dark alley or something. Yes, I'm taking things to the extreme here, but the simple fact that meeting new people online make this sort of situation a whole lot easier is enough for me to be wary of it. Granted, this happens a whole lot less than it would actually seem, and there are more success stories than horror stories. One just needs to be extra careful/suspicious when meeting people online. You never really know what you're going to get, and that's why there's a social stigma associated with it.

Re:The Social Stigma (2, Insightful)

robvs68 (560549) | about 8 years ago | (#16145660)

The social stigma is somewhat warranted. True, there is nothing wrong with meeting someone online, but many of these people fail to realize that they truely don't know someone if they've only communicated via text or voice. Half of human communication is visual...

Re:The Social Stigma (3, Interesting)

inviolet (797804) | about 8 years ago | (#16145956)

The social stigma is somewhat warranted. True, there is nothing wrong with meeting someone online, but many of these people fail to realize that they truely don't know someone if they've only communicated via text or voice. Half of human communication is visual...

The reverse could also be true. Because there isn't any visual communication, people become more honest and more revealing about the rest of themselves.

It could well be that the visual component triggers the 'project the desired image' algorithm in our minds, which can only muddy the water when trying to get to know somebody.

Re:The Social Stigma (1)

Firefly1 (251590) | about 8 years ago | (#16146419)

The reverse could also be true. Because there isn't any visual communication, people become more honest and more revealing about the rest of themselves.
If, as is noted in the grandparent post, "half of human communication is visual", it would make sense in situations where that component is out of play to take greater care with one's words. Unfortunately, the behavior of certain forum denizens is ample proof that this is not always done.

It could well be that the visual component triggers the 'project the desired image' algorithm in our minds, which can only muddy the water when trying to get to know somebody.
Not quite related, but this reminded me of accounts of the famous televised debate [wikipedia.org] between Kennedy and Nixon. From the reference:

During the debates, Nixon looked tense and uncomfortable, while Kennedy was composed, which led the television audience to deem Kennedy the winner, although radio listeners in general thought Nixon had won or the debate was a draw. Nixon did not wear make-up during the debate, unlike Kennedy. The debates are considered a political landmark: the point at which the medium of television played an important role in politics.
Elsewhere [slashdot.org] in this thread, an AC categorizes the Internet as "where desperate people go, when even classified ads in newspapers have failed to find them a match." What isn't explained is how - excepting the size of potential audience - Internet classified ads are any different from their print counterparts.

Re:The Social Stigma (1)

aztec rain god (827341) | about 8 years ago | (#16147459)

Well, hell, I've dated women for months before I came to the realization that I had no clue who they really were! I think what is at work is that this is a function of technology, and most technologies in the past served to drive a wedge between people, to alienate them. It is counterintuitive, then, to have in our midst a technology that actually brings people together.

Re:The Social Stigma (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | about 8 years ago | (#16145664)

I think it has to do with the role that computers have traditionally played in our lives. Traditionally, the "normal" people spend their leisure time going out and hanging out with their friends, while the pimply faced nerds sit at home all day and night on their computers chatting online.

As the Internet has become more mainstream, the stigma of meeting people online has faded significantly. These days, it's more of a curiosity than something that's looked down on. Although, meeting people on dating sites still has the same stigma (for now) as meeting people through the newspaper personal ads. But I think that's because many people consider those types of sites (or ads) as a last-ditch act of desperation for people who haven't been able to get a date any other way.

Re:The Social Stigma (4, Insightful)

milgr (726027) | about 8 years ago | (#16145671)

The stigma of meeting people online comes from the few nut cases and preditors out there. On the Net, it is difficult to tell anything about the entities with whom you communicate. Is the entity who he says s/he is, is it really a bot, a 13-year old boy pretending to be a 25 year old girl, a sexual preditor pretending to be a 16 year old boy?

That being said, I do know people who have developed long term real-life relationships with people they met on the Net. My sister met the man whom whe married on Bitnet. When they met, she made sure it was in a public location.

It's less direct than that (1)

Jeff Molby (906283) | about 8 years ago | (#16147469)

As the GP pointed out, you can meet nutjobs anywhere. The problem with meeting people on the Net is that there can be a very long delay before you realize that your "friend" is one such nutjob.

My theory is that the vast majority of well-balanced females don't make themselves available online. Sure they chat with people they already know, but they don't expand their circles. They can make friends in any setting, so why bother with one where deception is so easy? So any female you're likely to meet online is going to be less than well-balanced. Most people are aware of this trend (even if they can't put words to it), so they're likely to be pessimistic about the prospects of your new relationship.

Note: Yes, the same logic applies if you transpose the genders, but I think the females started the downward spiral (or prevented it from ever spiralling upwards... however you want to look at it.)

Note: It's possible that this is no longer the case, but it is the source of the stigma. If the situation has changed, the stigma will eventually disappear.

It's stooping to the lowest level of despair. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16145733)

The Internet is often used as a last resort for finding a partner. It's where desperate people go, when even classified ads in newspapers have failed to find them a match. Sure, there are some relationships that started over the Internet, and worked out very well. But of all the ones I am aware of, they have all ended in abysmal failures.

I have one cousin who has been in several such relationships. She is, to put it nicely, fat and ugly. It's no wonder that she hasn't found a date via her everyday interaction with people. So she has resorted to going online, and it has allowed her to find men. But the one's she's found, they've basically been scum. One was just a fat person fetishist who wanted nothing more than to anally fuck her. One of the other guys lied about his age four times over before she dumped him. Another one had two other relationships going at the same time, and my cousin found out after a few months of them going "steady".

Bars or other gatherings tend to be viable meeting places for socially-acceptable and socially-adept individuals. People who lack such skills often resort to newspaper classified ads. When even those are complete failures, such people turn to the Internet. But since the cream of the crop have already been paired off between bars and classified ads, only the "worst" people for Internet dating. Because of that, the relationships often fail to work, if they're not outright disasters. That's why Internet dating has such an awful stigma.

Wow. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16145767)

The Internet is often used as a last resort for finding a partner. It's where desperate people go, when even classified ads in newspapers have failed to find them a match. Sure, there are some relationships that started over the Internet, and worked out very well. But of all the ones I am aware of, they have all ended in abysmal failures.

I have one cousin who has been in several such relationships. She is, to put it nicely, fat and ugly. It's no wonder that she hasn't found a date via her everyday interaction with people. So she has resorted to going online, and it has allowed her to find men. But the one's she's found, they've basically been scum. One was just a fat person fetishist who wanted nothing more than to anally fuck her. One of the other guys lied about his age four times over before she dumped him. Another one had two other relationships going at the same time, and my cousin found out after a few months of them going "steady".

Bars or other gatherings tend to be viable meeting places for socially-acceptable and socially-adept individuals. People who lack such skills often resort to newspaper classified ads. When even those are complete failures, such people turn to the Internet. But since the cream of the crop have already been paired off between bars and classified ads, only the "worst" people for Internet dating. Because of that, the relationships often fail to work, if they're not outright disasters. That's why Internet dating has such an awful stigma.
Congratulations, that is the most shallow post I have ever read on Slashdot. You, sir, make baby Jesus cry.

I heavily suspect you are not in a relationship and will have difficulty maintaining one.

Re:Wow. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 years ago | (#16146593)

> One was just a fat person fetishist who wanted nothing more than to anally fuck her

Are there no chubby chasers who are capable of true love anymore? What's this world coming to?!?!?

Re:It's stooping to the lowest level of despair. (1)

Brickwall (985910) | about 8 years ago | (#16146908)

One was just a fat person fetishist who wanted nothing more than to anally fuck her.

I'm not sure which is more revolting - the split cheeks or the split infinitive.

Re:The Social Stigma (1)

hkgroove (791170) | about 8 years ago | (#16145734)

Interesting articles but I have a very basic question: Where do we get the social stigma associated with "meeting someone online"?
I, for one, see it no different than being set up on a blind date or something of the like. I've developed quite a few solid friendships with people whom I met online. Never a relationship, but the idea doesn't scare me away either.

Is it because most people equate meeting people in a social setting as normal? Is it seen, by others, as a last resort for someone who doesn't have the balls to strike up a conversation in a public setting - the public "humiliation" of being turned down and feeling as if a spotlight is on you is something most people don't like or handle well? This shy and reserved personality is not seen as "cool". The people who speak against it, project it upon themselves and realize what it implies, then they turn their own insecurities into another's social stigma.

Another way to look at it is it's secret: what or who are they hiding; it's anonymous: you can be anyone... they can be anyone. Expectations change completely and people set themselves up for disaster. Your tiniest white lie about yourself can perhaps be a big issue to someone else. That's no different in normal dating, but when you talk with someone, you hear inflection, you see responses and remarks and it's easier to figure out if the other is on the level or has a facade (unfortunately it's not foolproof).

It doesn't help that computers and the people who use them have always seen through a badly focused lens of the media / entertainment industry.

Re:The Social Stigma (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | about 8 years ago | (#16145760)

I think the newness of it is a big chunk of it, but a keyboard, mouse and screen just aren't all that social. I also imagine another big chunk of it is that people believe in things like 'love at first sight' and whatnot, and the sterility of a network terminal is offensive to those notions. The fact that there is actual chemistry going on when you interact with people in real life might also have something to do with it.

Re:The Social Stigma (1)

baadger (764884) | about 8 years ago | (#16145782)

I think it stems from the fact that most perceive 'meeting' and making friends with people online as a somehow 'cheap' or 'easy' way of doing so. And indeed it is.

Friends, like anything else, can seen superficially by some as something you possess. The more you have the higher your social stature and, lets face it, everyone wants to be loved, have lots of friends and have that feeling reciprocated.

If your friends (i.e. online buddies) are easy to come by however, it only makes sense for the natural reaction to be to devalue them as a form of compensation. For example, consider person X who has 3 or 4 real friends and snubs person Y who only has say 5 or 6 or so online buddies. IMO, person X is jealous, a sense of doubt and inadequacy about their own social life regardless of whether person Y is truly content with their social life. Person X devalue's person Y's relationships because they are either comfortable and confident with their own social standing or simply can't resist the (natural) temptation to label themselves as 'better' than person Y.

Of course there are other factors, like how easy it is to deceive others online or the lack of more personal interchange.

Those are my thoughts on the matter anyway. I would invite you over to my blog for tea but I only do that with friends. :P

The Stigma Predates The Internet (2, Insightful)

shaneh0 (624603) | about 8 years ago | (#16145793)

As someone mentioned, this stigma comes from the undesirables online that we've all heard about. As is typical, we ignore the 95% of good moral people and focus on the 5% of scammers, predators, degenerates and slashdot readers.

I think this is further reinforced because many people who would be totally normal if you met them in the elevator of your building or in line at starbucks, when online, show their slimy underbelly. Look at all the AOL searches that were posted.

I guess this is because the internet is a strange hybrid of personal privacy & exclusion and society and interpersonal relationships. The normal rules of society don't apply.

The stigma, though, is no different then meeting someone in a bar. Especially women. If she calls her mom and says "I met this great guy in the bar" there's stigma there. Not as much as there used to be, maybe, but it's still there. And for largely the same reason. Some degenerates, normal rules don't apply, etc.

Fear of the unknown (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#16146088)

Face it, the 'net is a series of tubes for most people. It's something where you type something in IE and you get a page that shows you some flashy graphics, and that's pretty much it. What other information people have, they have from the media hype around things that, allegedly or really, happened to someone who happened to "be in the net".

Mix that with xenophobia and the fact that the "other one" can be anywhere from Dallas to Dnjepropetrowsk and people will be unable to even grasp the basic concept. It's simply "too big". Which, again, is a good source for more fear.

Then the usual "think of the children" bullcrap comes into play. While you can make sure that you live in a "good neighborhood", there is no such thing online. Your neighborhood is the planet. And again the perceived anonymity that makes people less inhibited to expose themselves, and post information about themselves online that they wouldn't even willingly admit to in a census.

All that combined and you know where the "bad internet" comes from.

Face Time (1)

dugjohnson (920519) | about 8 years ago | (#16146284)

Where do we get the social stigma associated with "meeting someone online"?
As a species we are oriented toward the visual and faces for recognition, status and bonding. There was an interesting four part series with John Cleese and Elizabeth Hurley The Human Face [amazon.com] from 2001 that covered some REALLY interesting face factors.
That, of course, is missing in the online world. Sure you can see a picture, but it's not the same. There is a subliminal information loss that lowers your ability to really "know" someone when you are in the online world rather than face to face.
Face Time, as it turns out, really IS important

Re:The Social Stigma (2, Interesting)

afeeney (719690) | about 8 years ago | (#16146609)

Another issue is that the traditional way of meeting a mate was through friends, schools, and physical social networks, so potential mates came more or less recommended or at least pre-approved. Meeting, courtship, and mating were almost entirely community functions that had a high community stake in success. We weren't fully conscious of our stake in their marriage and almost inevitable child-rearing, but we were aware that "good" marriages and families are an important part of our community's success.

Meeting online is more or less depriving the community of having a say, making a part-communal, part-individual function entirely individual. It's also possible that in a time where instead of involving marriage and children, many relationships and families involve neither, communities are adjusting to that, as well, the total redefinition of a family as being a contract between two individuals who do what pleases them, with less regard to traditional expectations of marriage and children.

Re:The Social Stigma (2, Informative)

msaavedra (29918) | about 8 years ago | (#16147061)

Where do we get the social stigma associated with "meeting someone online"? ...Whenever something arises that allows us to interact with people, it's usually a good thing. But tell your parents that you met someone online and you're dating them -- hell tell anyone -- that and more often than not, they'll disapprove.

I think this stigma is from people's natural tendency to fear the unfamiliar, and is fading fast. I met my girlfriend online, and everyone I know has been supportive. I think they'd be more suspicious if I met her in a bar. The internet just seems like a normal place to meet someone these days. In fact, my dad met his wife online, and my girlfriend's mom met her husband online too. Obviously, neither of our parents disapprove of online dating.

Re:The Social Stigma (1)

lastpub (214519) | about 8 years ago | (#16147205)

It may have something to do with the lack of emotional communication: voice inflection and facial expressions are not translated over the normal medium of web communication, text. We pick up a lot of our social and attraction queues from these. In the case of romance, smell plays a big part in attraction, also not transmitted via the web. This might be the basis for the social stigma. While intellectually there are advantages to this method of communication, socially it is handicapping and that is likely naturally recognized by even the least astute computer user.

my 2 cents...

Social Schmocial (1)

HotBBQ (714130) | about 8 years ago | (#16147345)

I don't know if there is a social stigma anymore, but there is certainly a productivity stigma(?). Just because I'm wasting time at work posting pointless dribble on the Internet(s) doesn't necessarily mean I'm being less productive. Yes, I could have done something else, but the water fountain requires me to get off my fat ass.

Re:The Social Stigma (1)

blubadger (988507) | about 8 years ago | (#16147378)

The stigma isn't because it's "new". If anything that would be a reason for it to be cool (think i-Pod).

I think it's for two reasons. Firstly (as someone else points out), internet culture still carries residual connotations of nerdy computer culture. In the popular imagination, the network is not yet seen as the communications revolution that it really is - something that changes how humans relate to each other. For most people the net is still just a mundane if convenient service that chains you to an ugly box on a desk. Maybe mobility and ergonomics will change this.

Second, online relationships are seen as too easy by definition. This is the "he must be desperate" explanation, and it's not going to go away quickly. After all, is it really just as easy to say "wanna go for a coffee?" to a new acquaintance as it is to tap it onto a screen?

I'm (secretly) quite proud that I had my first online date back in 1998 - that was early for Europe, so I figure it made me a cool early-adopter. But I'm also pleased I have hardly repeated the experience since. Because let's face it: real life is much more of a challenge, and more fun too.

It'll come back to haunt you if you're not careful (2, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | about 8 years ago | (#16145612)

I know it's cliche to say that you shouldn't post very embrassing things about yourself online (employers don't like to read "hey, I get like... totally wasted and have drug-addled gay sex with my best friend every friday!"), but it is a problem. If you go for a sensitive position, they will do a background check and you can kiss getting a security clearance goodbye with half of what often gets put on these sites. Yes, just write off your ability to possibly get anything above a confidential clearance.

On the bright side, maybe we will end up either weeding out a whole lot of future potential politicians, or make things so open that "colorful people" can get into office. Works for me either way!

Re:It'll come back to haunt you if you're not care (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 8 years ago | (#16146598)

If you go for a sensitive position, they will do a background check and you can kiss getting a security clearance goodbye with half of what often gets put on these sites. Yes, just write off your ability to possibly get anything above a confidential clearance.

Which shows that the government is stupid - the people who are security risks are those who have something to hide. The very fact that I am open about things means that I am less of a security risk. I can't be blackmailed by someone threatening to divulge that information about me, I've already done it myself.

Having demonstrated that the government is stupid, it follows that I certainly don't want to work for them on anything that's going to allow them to kill people more effectively, and thus don't need a high security clearance.

Similarly, any potential employer who's going to decline to hire me based on information about my politics, philosophy, sex life, whatever, that I've divulged online, is not going to be someone I'd be able to enjoy (or even tolerate) working for anyway.

Here's a little hint (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about 8 years ago | (#16147054)

They don't just care about what you have to hide, but what sort of judgement you show. They have never pretended that they are concerned just with what you have to hide, but what sort of character you show and how good your judgement is. A lot of leaks happen due to bad judgement calls, not malice.

Re:Here's a little hint (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | about 8 years ago | (#16147490)

"A lot of leaks happen due to bad judgement calls, not malice."

And being TOO open.

Re:It'll come back to haunt you if you're not care (1)

sparkane (145547) | about 8 years ago | (#16147286)

Um, what? That's the worst that can happen, that we miss our opportunities for a good security clearance?

a) I think if they conduct a proper background check, the posting of whatever you did will be less important than that you did it. Sure, since you posted it, it's easy for them to find that data. But surely they know how to find it too when it isn't so easy to find. That's what getting a security clearance is all about, right? It's not like they'll say "WELL, if he didn't post it to MySpace, he must never have done it!!"

b) I think most of us have already ruined our ability to get a good security clearance because 1) we've smoked pot, 1a) we inhaled when we smoked pot, 2) when they hook us up to the lie detector and ask us if we smoked pot, we aren't going to lie too convincingly about not having smoked pot.

Very Interesting study (2, Insightful)

corroncho (1003609) | about 8 years ago | (#16145632)

When you are able to physically distance yourself from the physical aspect of things (you know actually talking to someone), many people seem to be able to overcome their inhibitions. This is a positive thing for many people who for some reason or another have a diffucult time being themselves around others. Of course this distancing also has the power to bring out the idiot in many of us too (you know who you are)!!!
___________________________
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Re:Very Interesting study (2, Interesting)

danpsmith (922127) | about 8 years ago | (#16146023)

When you are able to physically distance yourself from the physical aspect of things (you know actually talking to someone), many people seem to be able to overcome their inhibitions.

This is definitely true, and is probably the reason I spent most of my socializing time on the computer earlier on in life. There's no present danger on the computer, you can say what you like and inhibitions go by the way side. However, in a way you are seriously just avoiding your fears of rejection or fears of whatever else that might be holding you back instead of exploring your personality with others in a concrete sense. You might be able to blab to someone all day online, but if you have no personality in real life due to these social inhibitions being present as you say "actually talking to someone" then you learn nothing and you improve nothing. Hell, even if you meet someone online you are liable to be socially awkward when you meet them in real life then, even if you have established common ground.

People underestimate how much "being an introvert" in most cases really has to do with a decrease in quality of life, and meeting people or having an "online life" is never really avoiding these factors. It might make okay training wheels, but in the end you have to be able to balance yourself in real life.

It's a lonely world out there unless you get over your inhibitions (at least for a man), so avoiding this transformation is simply wasting your time.

Re:Very Interesting study (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16148253)

Of course this distancing also has the power to bring out the idiot in many of us too (you know who you are)!!!

You mean like the guy who spams Slashdot to try and get people to fall for a free iPod scam?

(anonymous for comedy)

Text of Short Story (4, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | about 8 years ago | (#16145636)

For those of you who don't want to register (even for free) to newscientist.com.

I Saw The Best Minds of My Generation Destroyed by Google
by Bruce Sterling

Los Angeles, 2026

Ted got busted because we do graffiti. Losing Ted was a big setback, as Ted was the only guy in our gang who knew how to steal aerosol spray cans. As potent instruments of teenage social networking, aerosol spray cans have "high abuse potential". So spray cans are among the many things us teenagers can't buy, like handguns, birth control, alcohol, cigarettes and music with curse words.

I tried hard to buy us another spray can. I'm a street poet, so really, I tried. I walked up to the mall-store register, disguised in my Dad's business jacket, with cash in hand. They're cheap, aerosol spray cans. Beautiful colours of paint, just screaming to get sprayed someplace public where everybody has to see what's on our minds. The store wouldn't sell me the can. The e-commerce system simply would not allow that transaction. The screen just went gray and stayed gray.

That creepy "differential permissioning" sure saves a lot of trouble for grown-ups. Increasing chunks of the world are just... magically off limits. It's a weird new regime where every mall and every school and every bus and train and jet is tagged and tracked and ambient and pervasive and ubiquitous and geolocative... Jesus, I love those words... Where was I?

Right. We teenagers have to live in "controlled spaces". Radio-frequency ID tags, real-time locative systems, global positioning systems, smart doorways, security videocams. They "protect" us kids, from imaginary satanic drug dealer terrorist mafia predators. We're "secured". We're juvenile delinquents with always-on cellphone nannies in our pockets. There's no way to turn them off. The internet was designed without an off-switch.

So my pal Ted, who stupidly loved to tag his own name on the walls, got sent to reform school, where the security is insanely great. Me, I had a much higher grade-point average than Ted, but with no handy Ted to steal spray cans, the words of the prophet have vanished from the subway walls. So much for my campaign to cover the town with graffiti street-stencils of my favourite teen pop stars: George Orwell and Aldous Huxley.

And Shakespeare. I used to hate Shakespeare, because the teachers would park us in front of the webcam terminals, turn on the Shakespeare lessons and leave the building. But then, somehow, they showed us Macbeth, a play which actually MEANS something to us. Grown-ups don't understand that (or they wouldn't be teaching it) but Macbeth is the true authentic story of my generation. This is Macbeth's world, and us teenagers just live in it. Dig this: those "Three Weird Sisters", who mysteriously know everything? They can foretell anything, instantly, like Google? Plus, the witches make it all sound really great - only, in real life, it totally sucks? Well, those "Three Weird Sisters" are the "Internet of Things", they're "Ubiquitous Computation", they're "Ambient Findability". The truth is written all over the page (or the screen - my school can't afford to give us any "pages"). Just read that awesome part where they're boiling pseudocode in their witch-cauldron! They talk like web designers! "The words of the prophet have vanished from the subway walls"

Macbeth stumbles around seeing ghosts and virtual-reality daggers. That sure makes sense. Every day of my life, I see people with cellphones yelling eerie gibberish in public. The world of Macbeth is totally haunted and paranoid! You can't get one minute's privacy, even inside your own bed!

So, I did my class report about Macbeth, and every kid in my English class instantly agreed with me. I'm not the most popular guy in school, but they started CHEERING me. And Debbie, this wacky Goth chick in my class who identifies with Lady Macbeth... After my class report, Debbie sleep-walked out of the classroom and pretended to hang herself! Of course the teen-suicide subroutines in the school jumped onto Debbie immediately. Debbie broke the software rules, so Debbie is toast, just like Ted.

My Dad - he's still alive, apparently - he sent me an email from China and said I ought to "recruit" Debbie into my "social group dynamics of online identity production". My Dad always talks like that. I haven't seen Dad face-to-face in six years. Look: I am a 17-year-old male, okay? I don't want to send Debbie any hotlinks and digital video. I want to take Debbie out! Maybe we could take some clothes off! But there isn't any "out" for me and Debbie. There isn't any "off", either.

Okay, I admit it: Debbie is insane. The fact that Debbie really likes me, that just proves it. Debbie ACCEPTS this sick state of reality. She EMBRACES it. We are doomed.

Imagine that Debbie and me somehow go out together. We want to network with our peer group, teenager-wise. I need to figure out what's hip and with-it and rebellious, and Debbie needs to know what the other cyber-Goth chicks are wearing. Is that okay? No!

It's not that we can't do it: it's that all our social relations have been reified with a clunky intensity. They're digitized! And the networking hardware and software that pervasively surround us are built and owned by evil, old, rich corporate people! Social-networking systems aren't teenagers! These machines are METHODICALLY KILLING OUR SOULS! If you don't count wall-graffiti (good old spray paint), we have no means to spontaneously express ourselves. We can't "find ourselves" - the market's already found us and filled us with map pins.

At our local mall, events-management sub-engines emit floods of locative data. So if Debbie and me sneak in there, looking for some private place to get horizontal, all the vidcams swivel our way. Then a rent-a-cop shows up. What next? Should we go to Lovers' Lane? There aren't any! They eliminated all those! They were tracked down with satellites and abolished with Google Maps.

Okay, sure: I know I sound pretty depressed. Us teenage poets depress easily. You know what they tell me whenever I rant like this? "Get a hobby." Play imaginary fantasy computer games! That is allowed me! Wow, thanks! When she nursed me as a baby, my Mom dropped me right on my head to play Wonder-World of Witchcraft. I sure know where that story goes. If "religion is the opiate of the people", then immersive multiplayer 3D virtual worlds are hard-core Afghani heroin. My Mom will never make it back into the labor force: Mom's way too busy building herself up to 146th-level SuperMasonic Tolkien-Fantasy Ultra-Elf Queen. Like that helps! Look, I can show you Mom's gaming environment, right on the screen here. My Mom's a Welfare Elf Queen (CR) (system crash) (hard reboot)

Debbie: why do you access me, when you know that makes things hard for me? Why do you tag, and link to me? Why do you telephone? And why, why, why do you write me silly notes on paper? I am so sick of you, Debbie. Why, why do you hack me? It is just to see the things that you know I am writing about you...

Debbie, you believe in us. You think we are the future.

I am so miserably happy, just now.

Re:Text of Short Story (0, Troll)

arun_s (877518) | about 8 years ago | (#16145678)

I clicked on the short story cos it caught my attention first. It started off well, addressing privacy issues, but then tailed off into the usual rant about everything being digitized and the soulless internet replacing good ol' natural hobbies.
I never could get that line of thought. The internet is a tool, the power is in how you use it. I look around and see the wealth of information I have learnt in the past few years over the net, and it just wouldn't have been possible any way else. I couldn't give that up for anything. And don't blame games for poor parenting either.
Technology rocks, quit whining. Poetic angst just makes me sick.

Re:Text of Short Story (3, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | about 8 years ago | (#16145879)

soulless internet replacing good ol' natural hobbies.
In your zeal to dismiss the story, you missed the point. It's not about the Internet "replacing" natural hobbies, it's about the ubiquitous and automated surveillance enabled by pervasive networking (not really what you're thinking of as "the Internet") destroying natural hobbies.

My personal phrase for it is inhuman justice [jerf.org] . I wrote that at least four years ago and it hasn't gotten any less true. Bruce here applies it particularly to teenagers, but you could take Bruce's implicit universe and write an equally angsty story about any number of adults.

Re:Text of Short Story (2, Informative)

ThatsNotFunny (775189) | about 8 years ago | (#16145822)

You don't need to register, even for free, to access this on their site. But thanks for empowering my laziness! :)

Re:Text of Short Story (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 years ago | (#16145826)

Off topic, but...

I really hate graffiti. If so many of these people are "artists" then why do they just keep writing their own stupid name, er, "tag"?

The thing that really sucks is that they don't have any consideration for the person who has to clean their shitty "art" up. You know how I define good art? It is a draw to people. People will come see/hear good art. If you have to spray it really big in front of people, it must not be so good. That's called "advertisement", and it is a different animal.

Graffiti (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16146359)

I really hate graffiti. If so many of these people are "artists" then why do they just keep writing their own stupid name, er, "tag"?

Actually I have great respect for graffiti artist. I know a few of them and they spend little time spraying on other people's walls without permission. Some even do graffiti painting on commission either part-time or even full time. The customers range from nightclub owners to private persons looking to liven up their apartments. Sometimes these guys use abandoned buildings as canvases but then most people wouldn't think a wall mural makes a dilapidated, condemned building look worse than it already does as a result of neglect. The guys I know usually get permission to do spray condemned buildings before they are torn down from the community government who has even been known to hold graffiti art contests. What I hate are those disrespectful little punks who (ineptly) scrawl their (ugly) and badly done tag on other people's property using a spraycan or a smelly felt-tip pen without permission. Don't confuse the two. Other than the fact that some of the punks grow up and become real artist taggers and graffiti artists are pretty much two different things althoug there is a big gray zone between truly elaborate graffiti art and basic scrawls like tagging, and the more elaborate throw-ups etc...

Re:Graffiti (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 years ago | (#16146503)

I think we agree, except that I am disturbed by the parts of your post like "little time spraying on other people's walls" and "usually get permission". That still sounds like some part-time vandals. I'm using the term "graffiti" in the way the layman would understand it, associating it with urban blight and vandalism. I understand that the term can encompass art.

Re:Text of Short Story (1)

UncleFluffy (164860) | about 8 years ago | (#16147494)

Off topic, but... I really hate graffiti.

Have a look at this guy's work [banksy.co.uk] and see what you think.

Re:Text of Short Story (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 years ago | (#16148247)

That guy is world-famous and has people pouring into his exhibits. In addition, I think most would agree that he is on a different plane than the type of graffiti that I was talking about. His outdoor stuff is political advertisement for the most part so it doesn't really impress me much... I'm not really a big fan of ads, either. Someone still has to clean his shit up, even if he is a talented artist. It would be different if he went and cleaned it up himself, but that would apparently be beneath him. Let the minimum wage slob do it, right? Some of his stuff is inspired - the painted elephant is a stroke of genius... let the animal rights freaks get you plenty of free publicity for your cause. I think he also came up with the technique of scrubbing away the grime from tunnels to create graffiti... gotta give the guy some props there.

Anyway, since taste is subjective, it's best to let the owner of a property (or the community) decide what can and cannot be painted on the side of a building.

Re:Text of Short Story (1)

Gibsnag (885901) | about 8 years ago | (#16146369)

Imagine that Debbie and me somehow go out together. We want to network with our peer group, teenager-wise. I need to figure out what's hip and with-it and rebellious, and Debbie needs to know what the other cyber-Goth chicks are wearing. Is that okay? No!

This is the bit that I found the most interesting. Obviously teenagers (and to a lesser extent adults) will follow the pack, we're insecure and awkard creatures that need to identify ourselves with something. But is the 'net any worse or better for forming these youth groups and subcultures? Does the 'net twist them, or is it only the popular and corporately owned sites (such as MySpace) that twist the communities that inhabit them? I personally find it amusing the amount of people who don't know that MySpace is owned by Fox and that they're spouting their generic rebellious teenage rants on a site that is funding Mr Right Wing Rupert Murdoch himself. If they truely believed in what they said then they'd stop using MySpace and find or create their own site.... until that is taken over by some corporation looking to capitalise on the site's profitability or market-share. I don't really know what I'm attempting to say, and possibly I am just being a whiney teenage geek but something just doesn't feel right and I can't come to a serious conclusion as to what it is about these stereotypical subcultures which irritate me? Possibly I am just attempting to identify myself as someone who isn't using MySpace and rebelling against the 'man' in that way? I don't know, seems somewhat of a catch 22.

Re:Text of Short Story (1)

drewlake2000 (704213) | about 8 years ago | (#16146580)

I wonder how many people got the Morrissey reference at the end.

Re:Text of Short Story (1)

phobos72 (210328) | about 8 years ago | (#16146613)

Debbie: why do you access me, when you know that makes things hard for me? Why do you tag, and link to me? Why do you telephone? And why, why, why do you write me silly notes on paper? I am so sick of you, Debbie. Why, why do you hack me? It is just to see the things that you know I am writing about you...
Paraphrasing Morrissey, Mr Sterling? Suedehead [man.ac.uk]

Re:Text of Short Story (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 years ago | (#16146701)

> I wonder how many people got the Morrissey reference at the end.

Evidently not this guy:

> Paraphrasing Morrissey, Mr Sterling? Suedehead [man.ac.uk]

Re:Text of Short Story (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 years ago | (#16146736)

> Mom's way too busy building herself up to 146th-level SuperMasonic Tolkien-Fantasy Ultra-Elf Queen.

With Hootie slider to max, I hope.

In any case, this is obviously a case of the mother not properly educating the son on the delights of leaving meatspace behind. As we look back on the year 2026 and examing the blogs thereof, we see that some people were just scared of the future. Now that our meatspace bodies are kept alive and healthy by automated systems, we can live the lives we've always wanted, safe and healthy. It is sad to look back on those times and see that the people were so backwards, and didn't even realize how backwards they were.

Re:Text of Short Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16147363)

This clearly wasn't written by a teenager-- he didn't use the word "like" after every fourth word.

It's all about avoiding isolation (2, Insightful)

tont0r (868535) | about 8 years ago | (#16145656)

Anything that has to do with 'online' and a people playing/working together has been for the most part sucessful.

Basic technology is a good example. At first it was the pagers that allowed you to know when someone wanted to talk to you. And when you friend got a page it was 'I NEED A PHONE! QUICK! SOMEONE NEEDS TO GET AHOLD OF ME!'. Then cellphones came along and now you can talk to anyone from anywhere. Now a days, its hard to find someone who doesnt have a cell phone. Everyone wants to be connected to everyone else.

Its also hard to find someone who doesnt have AIM/MSN/GTALK(or gchat? i forget)/irc/any other social thing to get ahold of them.

MMO's have taken off like crazy. And ever since quake1 came out, you were a fool not to include multiplayer.

No one likes being by themselves. They like companionship. They like someone else being there with them.

Re:It's all about avoiding isolation (0, Troll)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | about 8 years ago | (#16146054)

Speak for yourself. I don't have a cellphone, and furthermore I don't ever intend to have one. I don't use IRC/IM or any of that crap. I like playing video games, but I don't get into the whole multiplayer thang.

I don't think people need other people around all the time as much as they need human noise. I noticed this years ago with television. I'd go over to a friend's house to visit, and their attention would be partially focused on the telly as they engaged in channel surfing --- a continuous stream of flash and sound with no discernable message. Now it's cellphones: Everywhere I go in public people spend their time yapping away on them. But, if I bother to sit and listen, I discover that the content of their "conversation" is nonexistant. It's just chatter ... white noise.

I don't understand what compels people to continually talk for the sake of talking, much less desire to listen to it. It reminds me of my kids' continuous babble --- I love 'em, but goddamn it's nice when they head to school for a few hours so I can enjoy some peace and quiet.

Re:It's all about avoiding isolation (1)

Howserx (955320) | about 8 years ago | (#16147458)

I don't own a cell phone, neither does my girlfirend, or her sister, or any of our family members come to think of it. My sister did once, I think the battery gave up 5 years ago, not it's a toy for my son. I don't want to be connected to anyone else, as a matter of fact I try very hard not to be listed on anywebsite with my real name or contact information. (slashdot is one of the few with my real name) I don't even answer the land line at home. I would rather live by myself actually, but the family thing came along and I'm used to it now. As for MSN I have one contact in my list. Not everyone feels the need to be surrounded 24/7 by people. When I meet people like that I wonder "What are they afraid of?"

Re:It's all about avoiding isolation (1)

hypoxide (993092) | about 8 years ago | (#16147506)

I enjoy tangible companionship. In fact, I don't feel as though I'm in company in any other way. Television sucks. The internet sucks. I want to touch somebody, physically. I want to punch my pals in the shoulder once in a while. I want to kiss my girlfriend once in a while. I want eye contact. I want sound waves from vocal chords, not speakers. I want to smell your body odor.

Jesus, what kind of pathetic existence am I living if I supplement these things with their cyber knock-offs?

No, thank you.

It's not that surprising (2, Interesting)

hellfire (86129) | about 8 years ago | (#16145665)

I'm one of those people who wishes I could throw all my personal information out there for people to look at and either admire or ignore. I could care less what people think of me, but the problem is that then people judge me and change how they treat me based on this information. People are constantly judging, and they are judging based off of thousands of criteria, most of which don't have a real impact on how one would deal with me. Be nice, be fair, don't bigoted against me, judge the issue at hand with the facts I have laid out, and we'll get along great.

I understand that to get through the world you have to play the politics game, learn how to schmooze people, and keep the private things private. I'm just sick and tired of it. Most of the people who post this information I think are similar in this regard. I want to tell the world about me, but I don't want to be judged, I just want to be seen for who I am.

But other people aren't that way, and most of us "blunt" type people have to learn the hard way that the rest of society judges us, and the judge us on all the wrong things. That's what happens, you post some personal information, describe yourself, and things go well when people you want to see you see you, but then when a bunch of people you don't know see you, and you find out these people are important to your job, that's when stupid shit starts to happen and you learn that it wasn't as smart as you thought.

Basically people treat the internet like a social club or a singles bar. They have to realize that it's the world... the entire world... who can see who you are. And that's the part that sucks, that not everyone thinks like you, and you have to get smart and take your page down or severely limit your posted information.

Re:It's not that surprising (1)

aliendisaster (1001260) | about 8 years ago | (#16145795)

I could care less what people think of me, but the problem is that then people judge me...


If you truely could care less what people thought about you then there would be no problem with them judging you as you wouldn't care.

Re:It's not that surprising (1)

hellfire (86129) | about 8 years ago | (#16146124)

You took my quote out of context, and forgot to include the important part at the end:

"and change how they treat me based on this information"

If you think I'm an asshole because I'm a bleeding heart liberal, I don't care, but if I'm nice to you, say please and thank you, and you still treat me like an asshole all because of my personal opinions, that's when it's your problem, not mine. That's the kind of judgement I'm talking about.

Re:It's not that surprising (1)

hypoxide (993092) | about 8 years ago | (#16147569)

A. How on earth could you possibly know if (and what) judgment a person is passing on you?
B. How could you know if someone is treating you differently based on this possibility of judgment?
C. Perhaps this person is simply being their self? Regardless of whether or not they are judging you, it is still your choice to accept how they treat you and take heed to it based on your own self respect.
D. Even if someone does treat you like an asshole would, who cares? Their loss. I wouldn't sit there and grumble over it because, honestly, who cares what they think?
E. You sound really insecure. Stop thinking and start being.

Re:It's not that surprising (1)

HobophobE (101209) | about 8 years ago | (#16146520)

As more people begin to express themselves and their feelings (and as a result, others discover that they can learn to express themselves and that they have feelings that aren't bookmarks of mass media views) it will get better. If you look at history there were times of persecution (or at least estrangement) for many different beliefs/associations, and as those groups continued to struggle they eventually gained acceptance (or at least community which yields a tacit acceptance by other groups).

In other words, as Bob the Painter reveals his escapades with multimarketing schemes, others will take note and share their stories giving a wealth of stories of the scammed that will help prevent them in the future. [Aside: How many people do you know that have worked for a multilevel marketing company or joined a pyramid scheme?]

As Sally the Court Reporter posts photos of her drunken debauchery (complete with a close up of her speedometer as she barrels down the highway swerving at 90mph) others will admit (at least in private) they drove drunk and luckily didn't get caught; we'll all sit back and laugh about how stupid our transportation system is and actually exert a change. [Aside: It'd be interesting to know what % of adults have driven drunk (ie, intoxicated above legal limit)]

It takes time, but having the information available is the first step toward parsing it and coming up with some methods to change our dysfunctionality and surplus our functionality as a culture.

Re:It's not that surprising (1)

daigu (111684) | about 8 years ago | (#16146951)

Nothing is more dangerous than a friend without discretion; even a prudent enemy is preferable. - Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695), French poet, fabulist.

You will be judged because if you don't know how to show discretion in your own life, how will you know to show discretion in mine, where I to share any part of my life with you? Make no mistake, this is not about freedom to be you. It is about understanding that you squander yourself trying to connect to the whole world - and in doing so, potentially squander the lives of everyone that comes into contact with you.

Wow, That was Bad, Really Bad (-1, Troll)

LionKimbro (200000) | about 8 years ago | (#16145694)

Bruce Sterling [wikipedia.org] has written many amazing stories. ("Maneki Neko.") But that [newscientisttech.com] was just horrible.

It's like reading a 60's icon critiquing the year 2006, complaining it's not "hippie" enough, and pretending to take the role of a teenager in 2006, an adult in teenage clothing. "Hey, why isn't everybody listening to really great works of music, like Pink Floyd, or reading truely great works of literature, like, Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary?"

All the kids getting up to cheer in high school, against technology? Can I see a trend line that even hints in this direction?

"Okay, sure: I know I sound pretty depressed. Us teenage poets depress easily." -- Apparently!

I'll stick with Synthetic Serendipity. [ieee.org]

Re:Wow, That was Bad, Really Bad (1)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#16145812)

It's like reading a 60's icon critiquing the year 2006, complaining it's not "hippie" enough. . .

And yet empirical evidence suggests that you like my posts well enough. :)

KFG

Re:Wow, That was Bad, Really Bad (1)

pretygrrl (465212) | about 8 years ago | (#16146181)

I agree - that "short story" was absolutely terrible. I have no idea what he is talking about, with kids hating technology.

Did the moderator who assigned "troll" to this comment RTFA? I doubt it.

Re:Wow, That was Bad, Really Bad (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 years ago | (#16146878)

Exactly. Google maps takes months if not years to re-scan the surface at a high resolution. Even if it were high enough to make out license plates, which nothing but the CIA (if even that) has, it would still not be live since the live feed would have to zoom in on a particular area, and there aren't hundreds of thousands of satellites you can commandeer at your whim, sorry.

And I guarantee you, kids will find places they can secretly copulate, don't worry. Like, oh, I don't know, any room that WWoW-playing mom wasn't in at the moment? Nobody's gonna have cameras in every room of their house, recording, recording.

And even so, just drive a car under some trees, or behind the north side of a 10' wall. "Come here and I'll poke two leads through your skin and fry your tracker for you..."

Nah, this story is completely off-base.

Much more prescient was another short story I read where crooks, low level street thugs, were lamenting the Big Brother-like omnipresence of cameras -- as worn by little old ladies wandering around, fearlessly, because the cameras they wore were live-fed back to whatever they called cyberspace in that story. They had swapped positions in the street life -- they were the "thugs", and the poor little crooks couldn't get a fair shake.

Interesting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16145702)

"It's certainly interesting that so many people post very revealing stuff about themselves on these sites."

That's not interesting at all.

Anachronism, FUD (4, Insightful)

sielwolf (246764) | about 8 years ago | (#16145710)

FTA:
What kind of responsibility are they ducking?

Summer 2006 finds the world enmeshed in multiple wars and genocidal campaigns. It finds the world incapable of calling a halt to environmental destruction. Yet, with all of this, people seem above all to be fascinated by novel technologies. On college campuses there is less interest in asking questions about the state of the world than in refining one's presence on Facebook or MySpace. Technology pundits may talk in glowing terms about new forms of social life, but the jury is out on whether virtual self-expression will translate into collective action.

Ok, that's bullshit. First off it is not true: look at the rise of Netroots (in politics, in activism, in terrorism) and all of that sort of action that disproves her very own observation. People are using online communities to get involved (for good or ill). Of course if you narrow your focus down like she does to just Facebook and Myspace (two sites designed for fulltime student aged demographics) *shock* people are just using them for social networking.

Second, her statement has the implication that in the great golden times before Teh Intarnetz that people where autonomous self-actualized ubermensch that got involved all the time with important social issues and where immune to peer pressure. That's pure BS. For all the supposed young folk getting active in the 60's, a good part of them took getting active to mean as a way to pick up chicks. Joni Mitchell talked about how all the talk of free love was just a scam. That's no different than it is now. Your average college kid is thinking of two things on a Thursday night: how to get drunk and how to get laid. That hasn't changed in forty years. And the author ignores the fact that the US population was mostly positive about Vietnam and it took the draft for most Americans to finally have a stake and for the tide to turn against that war. It wasn't due to folks now caving to instant peer pressure. The term Silent Majority was coined in that very era.

This article has all the makings of Media Studies masturbation: it has no social, historical, psychological or political context. It just has posed hypothetical examples and a lot of incestuous jargon. It does not approach it's own biases with skepticism or try to study the issue from an antithetical perspective (e.g. "Maybe social networking has no effect"). Colbert would call this East Coast Ivy League crap. And this is exactly the sort of thing you could break out in a party when trying to siddle up to some young filly. "Girl, we're so alone in this darkness... here, put your head in my lap."

Re:Anachronism, FUD (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 years ago | (#16146911)

> Your average college kid is thinking of two things on a
> Thursday night: how to get drunk and how to get laid. That
> hasn't changed in forty years.

You misspelled "four thousand".

Crap (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 years ago | (#16145756)

Summer 2006 finds the world enmeshed in multiple wars and genocidal campaigns. It finds the world incapable of calling a halt to environmental destruction. Yet, with all of this, people seem above all to be fascinated by novel technologies. On college campuses there is less interest in asking questions about the state of the world than in refining one's presence on Facebook or MySpace. Technology pundits may talk in glowing terms about new forms of social life, but the jury is out on whether virtual self-expression will translate into collective action.

They have to be kidding... as if the world suddenly became a nasty place when the cellphone was invented. On Easter Island, they cut down all of their own trees... they must have been too "fascinated by novel technologies" to stop damaging their environment. The world didn't immediately stop Hitler because we were all busy chatting on our cell phones. This person needs a history lesson and some perspective. When I was in college we didn't care about the world because we were drinking beer, playing video games, and trying to get laid. I know that this woman is smart and has done some great research, but she really needs to get a grip.

Perspectives on the WWII cell phone... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 8 years ago | (#16146780)

The world didn't immediately stop Hitler because we were all busy chatting on our cell phones. This person needs a history lesson and some perspective.

The irony of these two sentences. Yes, a history lesson and some perspective would teach "someone" why we weren't too busy talking on our cell phones to stop Hitler... :-)

When I was in college we didn't care about the world because we were drinking beer, playing video games, and trying to get laid.
This, of course, is true.

People blab their deepest secrets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16145768)

People don't just blab their deepest secrets online. They do it in real life too. People will tell complete strangers about things they wouldn't tell their closest friends. Part of the reason is that they don't care how the strangers think about them so they can unload without worrying about the consequences.

In 'real life' it is possible to be harmed if you tell the wrong thing to the wrong stranger. As many posters have noted, the problem is orders of magnitude worse on the net.

The other thing is that people make things up, both in 'real life' and on the net. The problem is that others (cops, judges, employers etc.) can't tell the difference between fantasy and truth. We have lots of experience by now that people can get into serious trouble for their online fantasies.

All i know is (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 8 years ago | (#16145891)

I've found my new sig.

My Mom's a Welfare Elf Queen

Social Networking needs to stop being "cool" (4, Interesting)

dominion (3153) | about 8 years ago | (#16145895)

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: One of the biggest things holding social networking back is that people still have this conception of it that is very reminiscent of a 1996 Wired Magazine article. That it's all very cool and hip and revolutionary.

Social networking isn't gonna get anywhere until people everywhere see it as a basic tool, no more, no less. You don't see kids bragging about their email address, do you? Why are teenagers acting the fool [myspace.com] over the fact that they have a myspace?

I've been working on a distributed social networking software called Appleseed (at Sourceforge [sourceforge.net] , and a test site at Appleseedproject.org [appleseedproject.org] . The idea is to distribute social networking across an infinite number of sites, all of which can communicate with each other flawlessly. Basically, taking the decentralized theory of the internet, and applying it to social networking software.

One of the effects I think this will have, is that a lot of people will join social networking sites who might be normally turned off by a monolothic cesspool such as MySpace. Ridiculous hipsters can have their site, and people who don't suck could have their own site, and someone who doesn't suck could still maintain a relationship with their hipster "friend" so that they can hear where the parties are without having to wear girls jeans and have a haircut [llnwd.net] that proves [llnwd.net] that the world has no sense [llnwd.net] of decency [llnwd.net] .

Yes, this means that your uncle and your mom and your cousin and even maybe your grandparents are gonna be do the whole social networking thing. Luckily, Appleseed has a lot of privacy options, so you can hide your BDSM Leninist Reading Group from your family.

One of the effects of the "uncooling" of social networking, I think, will be that people recognize that you're not hanging out at 80's night at the local club, or chilling with your friends at a private party. You're broadcasting your life to the whole damn world. Once I think people realize that, I think the absurd and abnormal social habits that social networking creates are going to quickly disappear.

At the very least, I sincerely hope so.

Re:Social Networking needs to stop being "cool" (1)

symbolic (11752) | about 8 years ago | (#16146571)

having to wear girls jeans

I keep seeing references to "girls jeans" - makes me wonder - what are "girls jeans?" Are they jeans that *don't* make one look like a complete retard, with a crotch that literally hangs at knee-height, and that actually *cover* one's rear-end, sparing those within eyeshot a glimpse of what should be underneath (but typically isn't)?

Re:Social Networking needs to stop being "cool" (1)

niceone (992278) | about 8 years ago | (#16146979)

Personally, I think myspace is already 'uncooling' as you put it. It doesn't look like it if you browse around the site using the two most obvious ways - people's friends and comments - but this is because the sample is skewed by the fact that the 'cool' people are the ones with a zillion friends and who post millions of stupid flashing banner comments. If you take a more random sample you'll find loads of regular people there just hoping to find new friends, new music etc.

I know this because I've been searching around looking for people who might like my music*, and I've been pleasantly suprised at the people I've found. I'm not sure what the stats actually are, I don't think I've come across anyone over 50 (probably because of how I'm looking), but there are loads of people in all other age groups.

[ * at first this felt a bit like spamming, but since about 80% of the people I find accept the friend request I send, it doesn't feel like it any more ]

Asynchronous Discourse (1)

cultrhetor (961872) | about 8 years ago | (#16145904)

Electronic text has a propensity for inviting asynchronous discourse. Because it is posted, sent, and retrieved by the other at his or her leisure, the personal involvement with messages is lessened: it makes the earliest parts of a romantic relationship easier because the agony of "should I call" disappears when you can send a text message or an e-mail without wondering if "the roommate" or "the parent" will pick up. The recipient has the option to respond at his or her leisure, which creates a longer gap - and lessens the personal involvement - between acceptance or refusal. When such technology becomes ubiquitous - and I think we can agree that it has - it is bound to change the ways in which we communicate with one another. (Disclaimer - this is my field of research)

Well... (2, Interesting)

Broken scope (973885) | about 8 years ago | (#16146126)

I'm an online social hermit.

My facebook account has 20 friends globally. I know met all but 2 of them face to face, and those 2 i have had long running philisophical debates with.

I would rate myself as a mildy attractive, guy. I stay in shape and i brush my teeth. I tended to get 10 to 15 friend requests a week from people i never met, who couldn't be bothered to even attach a "Hi" message. Occasionally some of them were the "hey wanna hook up?". Most of which I denied and at one point it really pissed of some folks who tried repeatedly.

I found it really funny that once i removed an actual picture of myself on face book, they few little hey want to be my friend things went down to maybe 1 or 2 a week and suddenly they were accompanied by friendly and intelligent messages. Some of these people are now really close friends.

i think the stigma comes from the percieved quality of the friend, most of them seem to be just seem to be another name on the friends list. i know some people who only feel good if they get a friend invite, my roomate gets like that sometimes, facebook becomes the center of his social life to the point where he doesn't leave the room to socialize, he just uses facebook.

No. No, it isn't. (1)

kahei (466208) | about 8 years ago | (#16146215)


It's certainly interesting that so many people post very revealing stuff about themselves on these sites.


No, that's not interesting.

The 'revealing stuff' they post isn't interesting; it would only be interesting if it represented extremes of behavior or threw light on fascinating personalities or great events.

The fact that they post it isn't interesting either; it would only be interesting if there was some good reason for them not to post, or if there was something else they could be doing instead.

'Dull people talk about themselves.' Not news. Sorry.

If anything, it's interesting that they choose to make their pages so ugly. That really is pretty interesting; you'd think that because they attach importance to the details of their own lives, they'd ask themselves 'how can I make this crap (and thus myself) look attractive? how can I make this crap (and thus myself) seem important?' But they don't. That's mildly interesting.

Social Networking of benefit to Big Brother (4, Interesting)

ajs318 (655362) | about 8 years ago | (#16146297)

I had an idea that social networking information might be highly valuable to corrupt governments. With some social networking data about each citizen, and a draconian Digital restrictions Management scheme, democracy can be laid to rest once and for all. Elections can be held in which every citizen can verify their own vote in a published list -- yet the final result of the election was decided before a ballot was cast.

Why post-election verifiability is meaningless
or, how even an open ballot can be subverted

A government already in power is in the ideal position to subvert an election even where every registered voter votes (zero abstentions), even in spite of receipts and even in spite of the existence of a published list of everyone's name, address and who voted for whom (hereinafter The Big List). The Big List is -- or at least will be spun as being -- highly sensitive information. There won't be any paper copies anywhere, in case they get stolen by foreign terrorists or direct marketers. You will be grudgingly allowed to look at it, strictly for the purpose of verifying that your own vote is correct. Don't expect for a second that it won't be protected by Digital Restrictions Management: you won't be able to print or save it without violating the EUCD or US DMCA. Anyway, possession of a hard copy could be made a separate offence in its own right (since it might be used to discriminate against people in illegal ways; also, it's information that might be useful to terrorists, or some such).

All it would take is (1) for The Big List to be made available only online, with Digital Restrictions Management technology, and accessible only via the use of a personal "security code" in order to "ensure that sensitive information is not misused"; and (2) for a combination of intrusive and less-intrusive surveillance measures to be used to determine everyone's Social Network (i.e. who their friends, relations and work colleagues are).

Run the election as normal and count the votes fairly. If your chosen candidate wins, stop right now. If anyone else wins, you need to adjust the figures just enough to create a favourable result which incorporates a sufficient majority to be unlikely to be challenged.

Now, when a voter logs on to see the results, they see a subtly altered version of The Big List. Their own vote is rendered accurately, as are the votes of everyone in their Social Network. The only votes altered are those of people outside the visitor's Social Network.

In other words, I might log in to see The Big List and see that my ex-coal-miner grandad voted for Labour (the winners), my posh aunt voted Conservative (the party who actually polled the most votes), and that dippy tart with the blue hair who lives in my street voted for the Green party -- exactly as I would have expected. To make the figures fit, a lot of Conservative votes will have to be changed to Labour votes. But on the version of the record that I am seeing -- and remember, they know it's me seeing it because of my personal security code -- all the changed votes came from people who, according to the Social Networks database, are strangers to me. Someone else might very likely log in and see my aunt as having voted Labour; but not if, according to the Social Networks database, they know me or her.

If a friend is with me when I check my vote, they will see their vote recorded correctly -- unless The Authorities don't know of our friendship and their vote happens to be one of the ones that get altered. Still, when they get home and check it on their own computer, it will show up right. If they call The Authorities and make it successfully through the "press one if ....., press two if ....." menus, they will be asked for their details, told the correct vote and that my computer must have been faulty, and probably believe that. If they later check on another friend's computer, and that other friend is properly listed as a known associate of theirs, then they will see their correct vote.

All over the country, people will be logging onto the Internet to see The Big List, and seeing subtly-different, but entirely-plausible lists of votes. Their receipt matches the way they voted, the totals match the official figures, and all the votes they would ever dare check are recorded correctly. The errors are distributed amongst strangers; and who is ever going to ask a stranger "Who did you vote for last Thursday?"

There will be no printouts at the Town Hall "in case they are misused". Non-computer owners (in all probability, Linux, Mac and BSD users too) will just have to use their unique identifier and password in a cybercafé, library or a friend's computer.

Most people won't retain their voting receipts any longer than necessary to verify their own vote; and even if everyone did hang on to theirs, the chances of getting everybody's receipts together again after the election are minimal, with the missing ones almost certainly sufficient to account for any anomaly. So without committing a whole raft of Computer Misuse, Copyright and Representation of the People offences (basically, obtaining plain-text copies of as many "personalised" versions of The Big List as possible and running them through diff), it would be impossible to identify any high-level electoral fraud. This is in spite of measures which are in place ostensibly to prevent such fraud, and which most members of the public will probably believe to be effective.

In order to demonstrate fraud, you would need to get many copies of The Big List sourced under different IDs, preferably mutual strangers (since known associates' votes are deliberately left un-munged precisely to guard against such comparisons), and compare them. This would entail gaining unauthorised access to a computer (since nobody but you is allowed to use your unique identification, and you are not allowed to use any unique identification but your own). You'd most probably be locked away as an Evil and Dangerous Hacker before you could gather enough evidence to make a case.

And it's doubtful whether such hard copies would be admissible in court anyway. The traditional test for the use of computer printouts as evidence is "was the computer functioning properly at the time the printout was made?"; and since any printout must have made in spite of a deliberate attempt by the programmer to prevent it, The Authorities would be able to claim that the computer was clearly not functioning properly at the time, since in the very act of printing it was being made to do something it was not supposed to do.

been done (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 8 years ago | (#16146759)

Run the election as normal and count the votes fairly. If your chosen candidate wins, stop right now. If anyone else wins, you need to adjust the figures just enough to create a favourable result which incorporates a sufficient majority to be unlikely to be challenged.

Been done manually, sorta. This was the recount SOP - "recount" until Gore "wins". Fortunately it failed and Gore still lost.

Re:Social Networking of benefit to Big Brother (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 years ago | (#16146997)

> In other words, I might log in to see The Big List and see that my ex-coal-miner grandad voted for

By allowing people to see other people's votes, you've already queered the election in ways the powerful can manipulate. Hence this election design is already completely bogus.

You think you are clever when you don't really realize what you're dealing with here. [b]These people have every precinct analyzed[/b] with polls and what-not, and know with good statistics how every location will vote. Then they'd either bus in special voters during the election, or make sure they had workers placed there, or after, they'd just alter the ballots in the box which they switched "en route" to the counting station thanks to confederate workers.

Your system, poorly designed for obvious reasons, simply replaces some things with others.

Re:Social Networking of benefit to Big Brother (1)

SlartibartfastJunior (750516) | about 8 years ago | (#16147397)

ajs318, meet the "print screen" command. Or my camera. Or your workplace's digital surveilence. If we have the technology to find everyone in the country's social network, then certainly security cameras will be everywhere, no? And some of them will be able to see computer screens? So if someone wanted to make a case, they would just have to get security footage of different people's screens and compare. And unless you expect all this security footage to be in a big database only accessible to Big Brother (in which case we're already sunk and democracy is the least of our problems), it wouldn't be difficult for an inquisitive newswriter (or student doing a project?) to get the data.

It all depends on who is socialising (1)

tontammer (988352) | about 8 years ago | (#16146399)

When people with even some sense in their heads interact on social networking sites, they understand the risks, the significance of posting private information on the net and that many a times the strangers they are talking to may not be the way they are presenting themselves.
Dumb people on the other hand just want to be part of a social network because so many others are. Just keep following the herd and you wont be left out. They dont care what they are posting about, all they care is for some chicks to reply to them so they can then brag silly in front of their friends.

But there are surely some good sites out there. Not everything sucks. For eg: i am a member of a site called Grupus.com [grupus.com] which lets me talk privately with my best friends, the ones i really know well, using small groups. Sure the site's look appears crappy, they dont seem to have hired a designer, but it functions great. and thats enough for me.

Effects of social networking? (1)

AutopsyReport (856852) | about 8 years ago | (#16146415)

Social networking has nothing but wonderful effects. Now what was that thing called "society" we're talking about?

Adding to the downfall of this generation (2, Funny)

darkuni (986212) | about 8 years ago | (#16146431)

What happened to wanting to ACTUALLY be around people? The teen-faux-angsters are DYING to be seen, heard and listened to - yet they choose the WORST POSSIBLE medium to do it.

This shouldn't be rewarded. It should be punished. For anyone over the age of 12, do you recall what REAL socializing used to be? You and your buddies would kick it at one of your houses on the weekend, crammed around the Colecovision, playing TOGETHER, waiting for SNL to come on so you could fall asleep during the musical number? Remember what it was like to actually talk smack without having a headset on? Still know those people? Are they still your friends? What's the longest friendship you've had? I'm 37, and I have a friend of 24 years. Wonder what the average "friendship" expectancy is over MySpace? Doesn't matter - there are 18 million other people dying to bump their friend count by adding you.

Just as with everything else, this generation has created YET ANOTHER disposable product; friendship. MySpace and it's ilk have CHEAPENED friendship and turned it into another mass-market, easily tossed commodity with zero expectations of longetivity or nostalgia value. "Something given has no value" and the most valuable items come through rarity, hard work and sacrifice. How many REAL relationships can one person expect to maintain with any sort of value? What rarity, sacrifice or hard work does it take to "make friends" at MySpace? What REAL value do you take away from it later in life? MySpace is the little bird tattoo on your boob that sounds like a good idea when you're too dumb to realize in 20 years, your sagging breasts will turn that bird into something out of an H.R. Geiger. "Gee, I had 367 friends on MySpace when I was 13, now that I'm 20, I have no friends to hang out with on Saturday night".

I swear to Christ I'm going to make black T-Shirts that bare the phrase 'I'm stalking your daughter on MySpace' and wear them around. Or maybe 'I'm the dude your daughter met on MySpace'. I'm certainly no prize to look at - old, fat, receeding hair line. Maybe these shirts will wake some parents up and they will start doing a little parenting and keep their teens off these obvious "stalker centrals". Don't give me any crap about how you're just as likely to meet a stalker at a bar as you will on MySpace. I can't believe anyone can believe such tripe. It is a simple matter of numbers and audience. Where do pedophiles hang out? They ain't hanging out at bars. Or singles clubs. They are sitting outside your daughter's high school RIGHT NOW. If you're car shopping, you don't go to Wal-mart, right? And if you were going car shopping, do you go to the little local lot in the middle of nowhere where they have 10-20 cars in stock, or do you cruise the "auto mile" where there are THOUSANDS of cars of every make and model waiting to be test driven? If *I* wanted to stalk underage girls, MySpace would be my FIRST stop (and guess what - my ONLY stop ... the veritable Wal-mart Super Store for the sexually demented). Gee, difficult math.

Danger aside, I'm disgusted by disposability. Music, film, video games - and now friends - have all been demoted to the shortest half-life possible. I weep for the future.

Re:Adding to the downfall of this generation (1)

vertinox (846076) | about 8 years ago | (#16146824)

Just as with everything else, this generation has created YET ANOTHER disposable product; friendship. MySpace and it's ilk have CHEAPENED friendship and turned it into another mass-market, easily tossed commodity with zero expectations of longetivity or nostalgia value.

To be fair, it wasn't heir generation that caused it, but ours... Or rather the programmers that created Myspace and of course our masters of the 80's generation who funded it... Otherwise known as newscorpration.

Had young angsty teens actually programmed Myspace and developed the databases behind it... (Although it does look like a 13 year old design myspaces backend) Then I'd say it was their fault.

But its not... They are just sheep like the children of all generations being led to the slaughter by million dollar corporations out to make a buck or two.

On the bright side it keeps me employed with other non-related technology jobs.

Re:Adding to the downfall of this generation (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 years ago | (#16147022)

In summary: My generation: awesome-o! Previous generation: fuddy-duddies. Next generation: Uneducated, lazy, disrespectful punks.

The wisdom of the ages...

Re:Adding to the downfall of this generation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16147225)

mod parent up into the motherfucking SKY

Exhibitionism and Self-Esteem (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16146486)

People tossing all sorts of revealing information up on these sites is not too surprising. It's the ultimate platform for exhibitionism and validation: toss up photos, "clever" profiles, and personal anecdotes and receive instant gratification from friends and strangers. If people respond negatively, its simply enough to pull down the photo/profile/story and delete the negative comments.. clean the slate.

A big part of socialization is about receiving a self-esteem boost and these sites provide an easy, relatively risk-free way of doing so.

And what have we learned, Dorothy? (1)

boyfaceddog (788041) | about 8 years ago | (#16147210)

1) The Internet is a Bad Place - but we've been told this since the virtual world was made up of BBSs and FidoNet.
2) People are afraid of new things - basic marketing 101
3) No one wants to broadcast their real self to the world - see story of Adam and Eve.

Is there anything new here?

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | about 8 years ago | (#16147217)

It's certainly interesting that so many people post very revealing stuff about themselves on these sites

Like the same information they'd tell you if you just asked them?
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