Final Paper

June 3, 2010

Angelique Nguyen-Le

Sociology of Facebook

June 4, 2010

Title

“Holy crap it’s 2 AM already?!”  Those are words I often find myself saying while on my computer or Xbox 360.  I wonder why and how I chose to do unproductive (usually unproductive anyway) activities on my computer over sleep, something I desperately need.  Part of the reason may be because while on my computer or Xbox Live, I feel connected to people.  Sometimes I stay up late just to talk to old high school friends or to read an article by someone I’ve never met or watch a video from someone on the opposite side of the country/world.  The internet has created a virtual replica of the world that is readily accessible to and connects everyone but not, of course, without its consequences.

When most high school students move away to college, they often have limited contact with their high school friends.  And once they arrive on campus, they are surrounded by thousands of other unfamiliar college students.  That’s where social networking sites come in.  The primary reason most users joined social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace is to stay connected with old friends and to solidify new or weak friendships (Ellison et al. 1162).  No longer do geographic barriers prevent old high school friends from staying in contact.  These sites also allow students to better familiarize each other.  Facebook and other social networking sites help convert latent ties into weak ties by providing personal information and social connections of each student and allowing students to judge how to use the specialties of other students to help themselves (Ellison et al. 1162).  While the constant tweets and status updates of micro-blogging may seem pointless, after all, no one cares that you just took a nap, such tiny updates help create a sense of “ambient awareness” (Thompson).  Ambient awareness is the virtual equivalent of reading a person’s mind.  Though each individual update is meaningless, together they create a picture of a friend or family member’s life (Thompson).  People can discover the day-to-day lives of their friends and family members that the other individual may not deem interesting enough to bring into a conversation.  Not only that but some online updates may lead to real life real-life contact (Thompson).  When one friend states where he/she is going, others may want to meet him/her there.  In this way, people become better connected with each other.  This connectedness is especially important today since the economy is becoming increasingly mobile and international.  Ambient intimacy is a way for people to “feel less alone” (Thompson).  Even if a person has the very unlikely circumstance of being one of the few or only person in his/her group of friends who use social networking sites, he/she can still feel virtually attached to someone.  Some online communities like Second Life and YouTube have users from all over the globe.  Obviously, most users have never met each other in person prior to joining such sites but once they start to befriend another person, this bond may be just as strong as or even stronger than ones formed offline.  Long time users of Cyber City, an online community, argue that meeting someone online prevents forming social biases based on age, race, appearance, and socioeconomic status (Carter 158).  Friendships that develop online may move into the real world.  With this method people can understand each other on a personal level before they become physically acquainted (Carter 158).

As with everything that is enjoyable in life, there is a drawback.  For starters, privacy seems to be a major issue with the current teenage demographic, the major users of social networking sites.  Teens feel that posting personal information on the internet is safe because they are not aware or forget that the internet is a public forum (Barnes 4).  What may appear to be private is available for all to see; and the users typically have no control over who sees it.  Even “safe” users may have too much revealing information on such websites.  In our privacy experiment, I found a great deal of information on Kevin even though he hardly used Facebook.  In his case, “it wouldn’t matter how careful Kevin was because his friends are putting his information on his profile” (Experiment #7).  Other problems with social networking sites include exposure to pedophiles, risk of rape by people met online, companies selling personal information for marketing purposes, and children under 14 lying about their age to use social networking sites (Barnes 7).  Perhaps the most frightening consequence of this new Age of Information is the amount of entertainment the average person has available to them.  Video taking too long to load?  Open a new tab and check your Facebook.  Nothing new?  Check your email.  No new messages?  Look at the new LOL Cats pictures.  There is simply no end to what a person can do on the internet to entertain themselves.  This constant stream of entertainment dilutes serious issues and arguments into something that people can laugh at which causes people to lose interest in solving social problems.  Indeed no one will be “prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements” (Postman 156).  “Of course people aren’t going to complain if they are offered pleasure.  Thus when there is an overload of entertainment and a decrease in productivity and seriousness, no one is going to complain.” (Experiment 5).

Works Cited

Barnes, Susan B. “A privacy paradox: Social networking in the United States.” First Monday 11.9 (2006): 4, 7. Web. 13 May 2010.

Carter, Denise. “Living in virtual communities: an ethnography of human relationships in cyberspace’, Information, Communication & Society.” Communication & Society 8.2 (2005): 158. Web. 22 Apr. 2010.

Ellison, Nicole B., Charles Steinfield, and Cliff Lampe. “The Benefits of Facebook ‘Friends:’ Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12 (2007): 1162. Web. 6 May 2010.

Postman, Neil. “The Huxleyan Warning.” Amusing Ourselves to Death. New York: Penguin, 1986. 156. Print.

Thompson, Clive. “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy.” New York Times. New York Times, 5 Sept. 2008. Web. 8 Apr. 2010.

Week 5 Experiment: Staying off the Internet

Week 7 Experiment: Stalking a Classmate

Week 9 Assignment

May 28, 2010

Reaction to Experiment

This experiment was difficult for me to do partially because my two types of fun activities tended to overlap.  For example, one real life activity I’m trying to pick up again is playing the piano.  To learn a new song however, I needed to use the internet.  Trying to find a song isn’t considered work and was actually kind of fun.  Another example would be the picture I colored.  I recently bought twistable crayons and had an extremely strong urge to color something.  Being the lazy person that I am, though, I needed to use the internet to find a coloring page.  One interesting thing I did notice about this experiment is how active my mind was for certain activities.  While doing my normal fun internet activities, I noticed that I tend to zone out.  My favorite internet activities (watching television shows, reading Cracked.com, watching YouTube videos, checking out Facebook, and reading my emails (all very exciting)), are not very intellectually engaging or rewarding.  Granted, coloring a picture is not very challenging but there’s physical proof that you did something.  And it looks pretty.  Playing my keyboard surprised me the most.  Because of the way my keyboard is situated in my room, I have to stand to play it normally.  Thus, I rarely played this whole school year.  But when I started to play my new song (“Wedding Dress” by Taeyang if you’re interested) I felt really happy (for lack of a better word).  Even trying to find a song on the internet gave me this feeling that I don’t get while doing my normal internet activities.  I think the idea and proof of progress are what cause happiness for me.  I didn’t have this feeling while doing my normal activities on the internet.

Reaction/Relation to Reading

I’ve always been aware that people are becoming more distant with each other in reality but I’ve never really thought much about the consequences.  A lack of social support would definitely cripple a person emotionally.  I thought it was interesting that the article defines the internet as a third place; a place outside of home and work.  Personally, I think the internet works exactly like Starbucks.  They’re both available pretty much everywhere, open 24 hours (some stores are at least), and provide a place outside of work and home for people to spend their time.  The article also states how the internet can encourage creativity and a sense of accomplishment.  It even mentions how millions of people watch YouTube a day which then urge people to produce more videos.  I actually found the sheet music for “Wedding Dress” from someone on YouTube.  This person, who I believe is a girl, learned the song by ear and then transcribed her version into sheet music.  Through YouTube this girl was able to display her talent not only for playing the piano but also for playing by ear and ability to transcribe songs.  YouTube also helped me express myself creatively by providing me with access to a variety of different piano covers to choose from (it took me a freaking long time to decide what song I wanted to learn).  Who knows, I might even post a video of me playing “Wedding Dress” on Facebook.

Week 8 Assignment

May 20, 2010

Reaction to Experiment

For some reason, the website gave me information for people living in the UK even though I stated that I live in the US.  I don’t really mind, however, because I like British accents.  Anyway, the first guy I looked up was this 21 year old interior designer.  I clicked on his profile because he was the first guy on my “Match Photowall” who looked around my age.  He didn’t really add more information that what the site asked for.  In other words, he described his interests and other basic information rather than his personality.  He portrays himself as an artistic (obviously relating to his job) and energetic young man.  He doesn’t state what education he has received but considering his annual income, I’m assuming he at least attended college.  I wouldn’t consider dating this individual because he seems to like doing energy consuming activities.  He’s also a whole foot taller than I am and that would look funny.  This guy also likes older women so that wouldn’t work out.  After looking at a few profiles on my “Match Photowall” I found the search tool and decided to try to search for people near me.  It still gave me results from people in the UK but I guess it doesn’t matter.  The last profile I looked at was of this 20 year old single father who’s also a math undergrad.  I clicked this profile because in the description he mentioned that his friends suggested this website for him.  I thought this fit this week’s reading well.  Unlike the previous profiles I looked at, his included a lot of information about himself (probably to offset the fact that he has a kid).  He seems to be a typical college student (aside from having a son) who likes movies, video games, and various athletic activities.  Under education he wrote bachelor’s degree but since he’s undergrad, I’m assuming he’s working towards it rather than actually having it.  I don’t think I would date this guy mainly because I can’t really take care of children due to physical limits (it also doesn’t help that I sometimes act like a child).  I do believe, however, that I can become good friends with this guy since we have a lot of similar interests.

Relation/Reaction to Reading

I’m not surprised about rapid rise of internet dating.  For starters, the number of people with computers/internet access has exponentially increased over the course of a few years.  I was pretty surprised that it argued that internet dating is highly selective.  People who use online dating services are perceived as desperate and as the saying goes, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”  My experiment seemed to go against the article’s claim about the pickiness of people who online dating services.  Most of the profiles that I looked at either didn’t include what the user was looking for in a girl or had very broad descriptions.  I believe it’s because dating services are still relatively new so people don’t want to appear shallow.  The article focuses primarily on the factors that influence people to use online dating services.  The biggest factors are computer skills, social networks, and attitudes about online dating.  Since people tended to use only the preset options Match.com provided, I can’t tell whether or not these factors affected the user.  It might have been my search preferences but all of the users I looked at had education higher than high school and lived in a suburban or urban community (and of course they were all male).  These are the socioeconomic factors the article states that can increase likelihood of using online dating services.  In the future, I might use an online dating service but for now people don’t seem comfortable enough to put a lot of significant/unique information.

Week 7 Assignment

May 13, 2010

Experiment

This week I stalked Kevin McKenzie.  He was born on March 28, 1988 and very recently celebrated his 22nd birthday at California Pizza Kitchen with a few of his friends.  Sometime during the day Eric and a larger group of friends had a party for Kevin at his and Eric’s apartment.  For his 21st birthday Kevin celebrated with friends at the BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery on Broxton.  He received a Carlsberg “football” jersey at this party.  He may have a little brother but there are no other pictures of the boy in his profile picture.  Kevin is a computer science major and will be graduating this year.  He likes computer humor like basically any XKCD comic and “C:/DOS C:/DOS/RUN RUN/DOS/RUN!” He’s worked as an Intern for Deloitte Consulting LLP and MySpace as well as a help desk for Counterpoint Systems.  He is partly responsible for “those annoying ads on your MySpace profile” and can help students write documents and cure writer’s block.  He graduated from La Canada High in 2006.  All this information before I even got to the “Likes and Interests.”  Kevin seems to like most of the popular sports except for American football.  His music is primarily alternate and techno.  He likes the classic movies like The Godfather and Citizen Kane.  They seem to be typical movie choices for guys.  His television style suggests a quirky and possibly dry sense of humor as well as an inclination for adventure/mystery/sci-fi.  His email address is kmckenzie@ucla.edu and his AIM is kjtmckenzie. One interesting thing I noticed is that Kevin has a standard way of smiling, meaning he has only a few different types of smiles.  Also, he doesn’t seem to use his Facebook too often (most of his recent entries seem to be things for the class.)

Reaction/Relation to Reading

If I didn’t read Cracked.com, I would be very surprised with what the article has to say about social networking sites.  The fact that these social networking sites are giving away users’ information to ad companies and are fishing ground for predators is not new to me.  What I never considered was how teens use these sites.  Personally, I like using Facebook to keep in touch with friends and plan social events.  In fact, the initial reason I joined Facebook was to talk to a friend of mine who attends UVA and had stopped answering my emails.  I was worried that something bad had happened to her so Facebook was the only method I could think of to contact her.  Turns out she was fine.  Anyway, the article mentions how the government used social networking sites to find potential recruits.  That terrifies me.  Obviously they were caught and promised never to do it again.  Oh wait, no they didn’t.  The article mentions that “In a post 9/11 world, the U. S. government utilizes computer technology to exert some degree of control over its citizens, rather than protect their privacy” (3).  Great. It’s interesting (and frightening) that I was able to pull so much information from Kevin’s profile even though he seems to hardly use his Facebook profile. If it weren’t for Eric I’m pretty sure Kevin wouldn’t be friends with the people from the class and have so many pictures.  If Eric hadn’t posted all of those pictures of Kevin, I wouldn’t be able to pull out as much information.  Which is something Kevin really didn’t have much power over.  Sure he could de-tag himself, but I’m also friends with Eric and could still see those pictures (although I would have to sort through thousands of pictures.)  I’m pretty sure Kevin didn’t want to give too much information about himself but his friends kind of gave him a way.  In this case, it wouldn’t matter how careful Kevin was because his friends are putting his information on his profile.

Week 6 Assignment

May 6, 2010

Reaction to Experiment

This experiment didn’t really validate the article.  Most of the questions and favors I asked of people were ignored.  I’m not too surprised by that though.  My first favor was asking people to give me their gamertag for Xbox Live.  Most of my friends don’t have an Xbox so it’s not too surprising that they couldn’t help me with that.  I then asked a question about a possible Vietnamese song or poem I could recite for my dad at his 50th birthday.  I expected a little more for this question because a lot of my friends are Vietnamese and some are completely fluent.  One was even born in Vietnam.  I got an unhelpful reply that most songs are about daughters and mothers.  I ended up not telling my dad that I should have his present ready at the next family gathering.  My last favor was to see if any of my friends could cheer me up after I overslept through most of my seminar. That favor was a lot better than the first two.  I actually got helpful replies from people.  One of my friends just commented with, “booger.”  She still remembers when I was really immature in our sophomore trig class and laughed at the words like “booger.” I’m a little disappointed, though, that only two high school friends tried to cheer me up.

Relation/Reaction to Article

I was a little annoyed with this article since it seemed to repeat itself multiple times.  I guess that’s for emphasis.  Last quarter, I had an English Comp 3 class with a theme of American Media (in the very same room!)  We read an article about Facebook users who viewed Facebook as a friendship piggybank.  It was definitely written after this article since the author mentioned a woman who complained about the 5,000 friend limit.  I mentioned this because we concluded that facebook is definitely like a friendship piggybank.  Weak friendships are the loose change that fits into Facebook while true friends can’t fit in the slot.  The article we read corresponds with my English class’s conclusion in that bridging but bonding friendships are definitely augmented.  It repeatedly proved that most Facebook users (at least at the time it was written) used Facebook primarily to maintain previous relationships while strengthening new ones.  I, at least, can validate that part of that claim since most of my Facebook friends are from my high school.  Few of my college Facebook friends are offline friends; most are Facebook friends simply for project conveniences.  Like I mentioned above, my experiment was not consistent with the reading.  Few of my close friends and almost none of my weak ties helped me.  I guess it just goes to show that if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.

Week 5 Assignment

April 29, 2010

Reaction to Experiment

Let me just start by saying that you couldn’t have picked a worst week to have us do this experiment.  Prior to class, I made an appointment through email for someone to come to our house to connect our Xbox 360 to Xbox Live.  I was so excited by this that I couldn’t wait until the weekend.  Then I found out I couldn’t use the internet for a whole day, which includes Xbox Live.  Since I had already used the internet on Friday morning to check my facebook and email, I chose Saturday, the day of the appointment, to withhold from internet.  Before the guy came at 3:00, it wasn’t too hard.  I just avoided the computer room and my cell phone.  I spent most of the morning/afternoon playing Pokemon SoulSilver and watching TV.  Granted, it was extremely helpful that I woke up at around 11.  Then things turned bad.  The guy came and connected our Xbox to Live and my little brother played Call of Duty while I had to find something else to do.  I constantly looked at the clock to see what time it was.  Though I’ve smoked before, I imaged my emotions and state of mind resembled those of a chain smoker trying to quit.  Time was moving too damn slowly.  I tried to take my mind off of Live by doing homework.  But it was no good; I kept looking at the television while my brother played.  It wasn’t helpful that my computer is in the same room as the Xbox.  After taking almost two hours to read a six page article, I decided the best thing to do was to leave the computer room altogether.  I spent the next several hours reading in my room.  I pretty much did this before and after dinner until around 11:50.  I then went back to the computer room and watched the seconds until I could play Live.  What a life.

Relation/Reaction to Reading

Obviously the chapter is outdated.  Television is becoming replaced by the internet and computers, two forms of technology that aren’t given much mention in the chapter.  Despite this, the chapter is still relevant in terms of how technology affects people’s day-to-day lives.  It’s definitely haunting when he poses questions like, “Who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements?” Of course people aren’t going to complain if they are offered pleasure.  Thus when there is an overload of entertainment and a decrease in productivity and seriousness, no one is going to complain.  Those that do point out this problem are criticized and portrayed as crazy.  This constant stream of entertainment fits in with my experiment.  In absence of the internet, I turned to other forms of entertainment, namely my DS and TV.  When a new form of entertainment opened up, Xbox Live, I had to try it.  I literally went insane with anticipation and waiting.  What confused me about this chapter is that he mentions some television shows like “The A-Team” as not being dangerous and others like “Sesame Street” as damaging.  Yet he doesn’t explain why this is so.  Though I always did find Count von Count questionable, I don’t understand how “Sesame Street could a threat.

Week 4 Assignment

April 22, 2010

Reaction to the Experiment

http://www.gamespot.com/pages/forums/show_msgs.php?topic_id=27295922&page=0

Pretty much what I did was post a question on Wednesday and just leave alone until today.  That way I could read all of the responses in one day.  I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to write about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (CoD).  I don’t play the game too often and am actually not very familiar with the name of the guns and attachments.  (My 9 year old brother on the other hand…)  I guess my thought process was that if I talk about a game most people really like then I can get more people to respond and thus have more to talk about.  My post was basically a survey to figure out which guns and attachments people like to play with in CoD.  I suppose doing so will help me figure out which guns are popular.  In retrospect, I should have asked “why?” but then less people would respond.  Some people did include why they prefer a certain gun and gave some advice on what attachment I should put with my preferred gun.  So that was good I guess.  I was surprise to find that two people got into a disagreement with my title for the post but it wasn’t anything really big.

Relation/Reaction to the Article

Posting on forum isn’t really like living a virtual life.  True, there is some need for truthfulness but honesty is less important in forums than in a virtual life.  (That is of course, unless the advice offered in forums is harmful/dangerous.)  I don’t think I will become friends with any of the people who responded to my post.  Some people just simply answered the question and that wasn’t really enough for me to see what type of person they are.  Anyway, the article itself is very interesting. I originally thought people who met online were weirdos or socially incompetent.  Now I almost want to create an avatar for Cybercity myself.  The virtual world provides almost a social utopia; a place where people are judge not based on external factors like sex, social economic status, or appearance but rather for their personality.  The fact that 69% of the relationships move from online to face-to-face and remain successful prove that online relationships are just as valid and real as those formed in real life.  Although I’ve never taken any sociology classes before and therefore have never heard of the terms/theories mentioned, I thought it was an interesting way to analyze friendships, both online and offline.  I’ve never really given much thought into what a friendship consists of and this article helps define what both online and offline friendships need to be successful.  To be honest, I’m not too surprise that one of the informants got married to an online friend.  What did surprise me, was how normal she is made to appear and sound in the article.  I’ve heard of people who got married from Everquest but I thought they were just nerds who couldn’t interact with the opposite sex if their maxed out Paladin’s life depended on it.  I guess I was wrong.

Week 3 Conversation

April 16, 2010

I decided to post the conversation as a completely different post since it wouldn’t be too long.

You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!

You: Howdy

Stranger: hola

You: So what brings you here to this website?

Stranger: boredom

Stranger: why did you assume i spoke english

You: Haha. I reckon that’s my reason as well

You: Well, that’s the only language I know so there wasn’t much assumption on my part

Stranger: haha

You: Do you know other languages as well?

Stranger: umm, well i can ask where the bathroom is if that qualifies as “knowing” another language

Stranger: the important stuff, you know

You: Well ain’t that just dandy?

Stranger: lol, i imagine it would be if i had to go in a foreign country with inadequate bathroomsignage

Stranger: *bathroom signage

You: I guess you’ll be just fine then

Stranger: maybe. i havent tested it out yet

You: I think the phrase “I don’t speak (insert language here)” is also just as important

Stranger: it could be

Stranger: but it doesnt help you get to a toilet

You: Haha. Well, when ya need ta go, ya gotta go.

Stranger: yep

Stranger: so whats going on

You: Well, noting much. Just browsin’ the internet

You: *nothing

Stranger: o

Stranger: how did you end up here

You: A friend of mine told me to try this thing called chatroullette.

You: Well that was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

You: So then I found this site and liked that it was only text.

Stranger: what did chatroullette have? webcam?

You: Yup. It was nastier than a male gorilla during mating season.

Stranger: haha

Stranger: how so?

You: So many guys were…well. Let’s just say they were enjoying their own company.

Stranger: ohh

Stranger: yeah thats why im leary of the webcam option on here

Stranger: i dont have a webcam though so its really not an option to me anyway

You: Yah that could be a problem.

You: So anyway, where’r ya from?

Stranger: us

Stranger: a

Stranger: you?

You: Oh really? I’m from Texas.

Stranger: haha, i was thinking that

Stranger: im from fl

You: Been there myself once. Went to Disneyworld.

Stranger: o really

Stranger: ive only been to disney once too

You: Yessir. Animal Kingdom was really interesting but I could’ve passed on Epcot.

You: Wish I could go back and see the other places but it’ll probably be a while since I’m so busy with work.

Stranger: yeah, i think i liked animal kingdom the best too.

Stranger: i liked the one with the rocking rollercoaster too but i dont remember which one that was

You: Haha. Yeah it’s been awhile too.

Stranger: o, what do you do

You: I’m technically an intern for marine research

You: I test underwater equipment.

Stranger: yo should move down to fl and work on the beach

Stranger: *you

You: Well I’m originally from Texas but right now I’m living in Hawaii.

Stranger: o, well foorget fl then, lol

You: Haha.

You: I do get homesick an awful lot. And Florida is much closer to Texas than Hawaii is.

Stranger: true

You: Yeah. I miss those open skies, 20 acres, barbeques and pecan pies.

Stranger: haha

Stranger: you should import some pecans and start a business bringing southern pies to the natives

You: Maybe. But I don’t think they’d appreciate it as much as I would. There’re a ton of Japanese tourists here.

You: And I don’t reckon they’re going to Hawaii for Texan food.

Stranger: you never know

Stranger: they might get some pie and go ahead and set up camp

Stranger: stick around for a while

You: That’d be good. Then I can quit my internship since my bosses are real monkeys.

Stranger: haha

Stranger: how long is your internship for

You: Only for nuther 2 months.

You: I leave June. Then I’ll probably spend the summer traveling for a bit with friends.

You: What is your occupation, if I may ask?

Stranger: o well thats nice. see, that “where is the bathroom” may come in handy afterall

Stranger: im a student

You: University or high school or younger?

Stranger: uni

You: That’s good. What’s your major?

Stranger: psych

You: That seems to be very popular now.

Stranger: yeah, my classes are packed

Stranger: are you out of school or are you doing your internship as part of a program

You: Nah. I’m outta school now.

You: But I might go back to get a MD.

You: Er. Master’s Degree, not Medical Degree.

Stranger: lol

Stranger: o well thats cool

Stranger: what time is it in hawaii

You: 5:38 PM

You: In Florida it’s almost midnight ain’t it?

Stranger: yep

You: You must be really bored then. Nutin’ better to do?

Stranger: sleep, lol

You: Yeah. During breaks was when I caught up with sleep. Especially Winter break.

Stranger: i do that too

You: So what do you like to do in your spare time?

Stranger: umm, it depends

Stranger: idk, hang out i guess would be the generic answer

Stranger: but i dont always feel like doing that either

Stranger: what about you?

You: Personally I like doing karate with a friend of mine.

You: He’s a real softy though.

Stranger: lol, so you beat him up?

You: We wear protective gear but basically yes.

You: He gets me a couple of times though, no foolin’.

Stranger: haha, im picturing you waling on some guy cowaring in the corner

You: Nah. He doesn’t cower. Usually after he’s had enough I just let him go.

Stranger: haha, so youre semi-abusive to your friends

You: I reckon you could say that. But one of my friends is a real barnacle head.

Stranger: but you have mercy

You: Of course. If I didn’t none of them would be my friends.

Stranger: do you spend anytime on the beach

Stranger: other than for work

You: Yup. I like surfin

Stranger: thats cool

You: My friends and I surf sometimes. One time my karate friend pretended to drown thinkin’ it would be funny.

Stranger: i want to try surfing, but i dont really like getting in natural bodies of water

You: He had me worried sick

You: Well the ocean is practically like my second home.

Stranger: yeah

Stranger: i think something is going to pull me under

You: Fear of the ocean is really a thing created by Hollywood. Normally, there’s nothing to be afraid of (depending if you’re in a safe part of the ocean)

Stranger: well how do i know if its safe?

You: Usually there will be signs and stuff like that.

Stranger: the safe zones were created by people too

You: Certain areas contain venomous critters like jellyfish and octopus. But these will have clear signs.

You: And plus many of the world’s deadliest animals live in places where you probably won’t visit anyway.

Stranger: what about beached sharks

You: Like Australia and South America

You: Shark attacks are actually quite rare.

Stranger: theres still a possibility though

Stranger: i get in the parts i can see to the bottom in

You: I don’t mean to scare ya but the shallow waters also contain deadly creatures too.

You: The most important thing to remember is that the ocean ain’t your territory. Ya have to be respectful of the creatures there.

Stranger: o, i dont care about the venomous stuff. i just dont want to loose a limb

You: Considering the billions of people annually who visit beaches, the frequency of shark attacks are rare

You: like 15 billion to about 100

Stranger: lol, im gonna need that number cut down some more before im okay with it

Stranger: alright, i think ill go to sleep now

Stranger: it was cool talking to you

You: It was a pleasure

You: You probably should get to sleep

Stranger: yep yep. enjoy your last few months in hawaii

Stranger: aloha

You: Thanks. Good luck with school.

Stranger: thanks

You: Aloha right back at ya.

Stranger: 😉

Week 3 Assignment

April 16, 2010

Reaction to Experiment

It took me a long time to figure out what fake persona I wanted to try.  My friends didn’t exactly help me since they suggested sensitive gangster and someone named Ivana Hump.  I ended up trying to fake Sandy Cheeks from Spongebob Squarepants because she sounds real enough to believe.  (Texan, moved to Bikini Bottom (which I renamed Hawaii), scientist studying underwater technology, loves Texas, karate, and sports) First off, it’s really difficult to fake an accent while instant messaging, especially if you’ve never had much exposure to that accent.  Living in southern California all my life, I don’t usually hear Texan accents in real life.  I had to rely on key words like “reckon” and spelling.  But the problem with spelling is that I needed to be an intelligent scientist so spelling words incorrectly just to fit the accent would seem odd.  Problems aside, my conversation with this guy/girl was really mundane.  Despite the fact that both of us are anonymous, we both stayed very formal and polite.  Neither of us gave much personal information to the other.  Granted, I easily could have said very obscure and inappropriate things since it wasn’t true but I couldn’t bring myself to do anything like that.  Even with my fake persona of an underwater squirrel (which I never mentioned) I wanted to appear like a normal person.

Relation/Reaction to the Article

Reading this article was really difficult.  Not that the context was too scholarly, no it was more like the font and format of the piece.  I normally like to annotate what I read so I didn’t like how I had like a centimeter to write notes.  I think it’s important that this article was written in 2004.  Since then the number of personal home pages has probably increased exponentially since there.  I don’t remember where I read this but every second, two homepages are created.  That statistic makes this article even more significant albeit a little outdated.  Homepages are an important and easy way for people to express themselves the way they want to.  People who are socially incompetent can post an online persona that they want others to see.  In a way this is good because then people who are misrepresented or outcast by society can raise their voice.  Yet this online persona can be negative since people may want to live through their online identity rather live their own lives.  I’m not sure how applicable the article’s data about internet access around the world.  There are definitely more people using the internet now than there was in 2004.  Also there are now more websites dedicated to online blogs and homepages so that content regulation isn’t as big a deal today.  Regarding the experiment, I didn’t realize how much social norms affected even anonymous online contact.  Sure, I’ve heard about the horrors of chatroulette and online stalking.  But when you meet a normal person online (which may be rare today for all I know), you tend to behave normally in response.  At least I did anyway.  I could tell, somewhat, that the other person wanted to connect with someone online.  He/She was chatting online out of boredom.  (I never did get his/her gender although I assume the stranger was a guy.)  He told me about his fears of going into the ocean thinking that I was a marine biology expert (hell I don’t even know how to swim.)  I gave some actually true examples about marine life.  Although I didn’t know this person, I really wanted to help him overcome his fears of the ocean, especially since he lives in Florida.   Since I haven’t chatted anonymously online since the days of AOL (remember the chatrooms?) I forgot what it was like.  Back then I liked pretending like I was a teenager, talking with total strangers.  Now I think anonymous online chats are boring and an inefficient way to meet new people.  If I want to make new friends (or enemies) I would prefer a face to face introduction.

Week 2 Assignment

April 8, 2010

Reaction to experiment

I have no idea how people are able to make so many status updates.  At most I would normally have two status updates a day, with one probably being a link to a funny video or article.  My life is just not nearly exciting enough to make so many updates.  I tried to make my status updates funny or interesting for my audience (i.e. my friends) but the topic just wasn’t very good.  Plus, I had a lot of classes today so it was also really difficult to make the 2 hour benchmarks (I think I ended up having 3 hour ones).  After my classes were done, I decided to take a quick nap…which ended up being about 3 hours.  I should note that I’m usually an introverted person.  Even before the internet, I never talked much to my friends outside of school.  So with the rise of facebook, I don’t feel much of this “ambient awareness”.  I don’t feel the need to share everything about myself, especially the mundane events that happen in my life.  I’m also aware that my status updates are posted on the News Feed so that everyone can see it.  Therefore, what I do post is definitely is not going to be very emotional or something like that.

Relation/Reaction to Article

I do remember reading several articles about social networks for my Eng Comp 3 class last quarter (the theme was media).  Since the theme was media, we obviously didn’t spend as much time in that class talking about facebook as we will in this seminar.  But I find it interesting that the points made in this article contained both the positive and negative aspects of social networks whereas the other one only state the negative (such as the devaluing of real friends).  I never really gave much thought about the weak bonds.  Usually I “friend” people if I know them fairly well from high school.  After that, however, I never really gave much attention to them except occasionally reading their status updates.  Only with a few of my close friends do I actually comment or read their statuses/notes.  If I can think of a funny or helpful comment for someone who I don’t really know, I post depending on how much I know him/her.  For example a facebook friend (but not actual friend) asked if anyone knew any good songs.  I actually just listened to a song that always makes me happy/excited.  Even though I never talked to her in high school, I posted the song anyway.  I’m a little worried about what will happen when I become older.  According to the article, college students need to constantly check facebook to make sure the image their friends post are accurate or desirable.  I really don’t want to be 30-something and still constantly checking up my online persona via facebook.  Granted, it’s much better than being 30+ and using facebook for Farmville.