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Subject: Re: Tom Hodgkinson's op-ed in The Guardian on Facebook
From: Paul Burton <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Paul Burton <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 18 Jan 2008 14:06:36 -0600

text/plain (20 lines)

*****  To join INSNA, visit  *****

I have to agree with some of Tom's points.  Facebook / MySpace et al is often a substitute for the real thing.  Web 2.0 has many benefits, but it seems to have impeded a teenager's ability to a) speak and b) write.  My 19 year-old son would rather text than speak to his girlfriend.  His cell phone bill each month is a small amount of voice calls, but thousands of texts. Any parent of a teenager knows this all too well (!!).  Staying online and capturing friends may keep them entertained, but the result is a teenager with a stunted ability to have an actual conversation with others.  One can see how Gen Y will have substantial problems with public speaking, for instance.  Yes, we have YouTube, but that's a one-sided delivery.  
Some research has shown that teenagers actually use web communication as a shield from the 'real thing,' where they can assume contrived personalities to build relationships (if you want to call it that). We've all heard of marriages online, with young kids moving across the country to marry someone they've never met.  When they finally do have a face-to-face conversation, how quickly the rules change. 
Text messaging has clearly impeded the ability for teenagers to write.  I can only speculate how professors deal with it.  I'm amused by the research on educating Gen Y, where much effort is placed on designing the appropriate learning environment for teens:  "keep messages short.  Change information constantly. Play to their short attention spans."  That may help sell product, but it does not enable learning. Eventually, they need to actually READ something that's more than a paragraph in length.  These Gen Y'ers will be in the workforce soon, and it will indeed be a rude awakening.  
What's scary is by following such tech trends, many teenagers have been dulled by it enough to avoid real-world contact.  Take driving for example.  I recall my eagerness to get my drivers license, so I could get wheels and explore the world.  Now, many teenagers are in no hurry at all to drive; they'd rather stay online.  Why take the time to actually leave the house when everyone's available on my cell? 
We have to admit that in some cases, these social technological developments have impeded relationships and learning.  Paul Burton, Ph.D.Raytheon [log in to unmask] 


> Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2008 15:34:22 -0800> From: [log in to unmask]> Subject: Re: Tom Hodgkinson's op-ed in The Guardian on Facebook> To: [log in to unmask]> > ***** To join INSNA, visit *****> > Uhh... I think that he completely misses the point. Except for the > tech fetishists and bloggers, people primarily use sites like Facebook > when they're not able to connect using the "free" means of > communication:> > 1) teens because they're not allowed out of the house to hang out with > their friends and if they are, their friends aren't or they have to go > to highly regulated and supervised settings> > 2) college students because they know that they're supposed to be in > class/doing homework/sleeping, but they're procrastinating because > talking to friends is much more fun and a little bit of low-level > talking through FB can be justified far better than meeting up with > someone for a coffee> > 3) white collar workers because they're bored at work and want to hang > out with their friends when they should be doing a variety of other > things> > 4) nightshift/hourly service workers because their friends work > different hours> > 5) parents at home because they can't really go and hang out with > their friends because babysitting costs too bloody much> > 6) highly mobile adults and military folks because their friends are > far away, probably in a different timezone and getting together in > person can only take place sporadically> > > When given a truly open choice, most people would much much much > prefer hanging out with their friends in person in an unregulated > environment. But there are unbelievable numbers of reasons why people > cannot connect in meatspace at a shared time. I'm not saying FB and > MS are god's gifts, but their popularity is not caused by anti-social > people, but by people who are highly social and are living in a > society with all sorts of restrictions. Maybe if we didn't work 80 > hour weeks... maybe if we didn't switch jobs every 18 months... maybe > if we had more than 2 weeks vacation a year... maybe if we all worked > 9-5... maybe if we let our teens run around outside with their > friends... maybe if we didn't ship thousands of young men and women > off to fight a foolish war...> > Don't blame the technology - it's filling a gap, but it didn't create > the gap. The key question should be: what is up with that gap and how > do we fix it?> > danah> > > On Jan 16, 2008, at 2:48 AM, Moses Boudourides wrote:> > > ***** To join INSNA, visit *****> >> > Hi,> > You might find it interesting: Tom Hodgkinson has written an op-ed > > in The> > Guardian on Facebook, where he's sort of campaigning against the> > substitution of digital networking for real life. He starts with the> > narcissism argument: "Facebook appeals to a kind of vanity and> > self-importance in us, too. If I put up a flattering picture of > > myself with> > a list of my favourite things, I can construct an artificial > > representation> > of who I am in order to get sex or approval. ("I like Facebook," said> > another friend. "I got a shag out of it.") It also encourages a > > disturbing> > competitivness around friendship: it seems that with friends today, > > quality> > counts for nothing and quantity is king. The more friends you have, > > the> > better you are. You are "popular", in the sense much loved in > > American high> > schools." He's also wondering about authentic connectivity through > > Facebook:> > "Doesn't it rather disconnect us, since instead of doing something > > enjoyable> > such as talking and eating and dancing and drinking with my friends, > > I am> > merely sending them little ungrammatical notes and amusing photos in> > cyberspace, while chained to my desk? A friend of mine recently told > > me that> > he had spent a Saturday night at home alone on Facebook, drinking at > > his> > desk. What a gloomy image. Far from connecting us, Facebook actually> > isolates us at our workstations." Next, Hodgkinson explores the > > blurred> > facet of the issue related to capitalism and libertarianism: "Clearly,> > Facebook is another uber-capitalist experiment: can you make money > > out of> > friendship? Can you create communities free of national boundaries - > > and> > then sell Coca-Cola to them? Facebook is profoundly uncreative. It > > makes> > nothing at all. It simply mediates in relationships that were > > happening> > anyway....The creators of the site need do very little bar fiddle > > with the> > programme. In the main, they simply sit back and watch as millions of> > Facebook addicts voluntarily upload their ID details, photographs > > and lists> > of their favourite consumer objects. ... Here at last is the > > Enlightenment> > state longed for since the Puritans of the 17th century sailed away > > to North> > America, a world where everyone is free to express themselves as they> > please, according to who is watching. National boundaries are a > > thing of the> > past and everyone cavorts together in freewheeling virtual space. > > Nature has> > been conquered through man's boundless ingenuity." So, he > > concludes: "this> > heavily-funded programme to create an arid global virtual republic, > > where> > your own self and your relationships with your friends are converted > > into> > commodites on sale to giant global brands. ... For my own part, I am > > going> > to retreat from the whole thing, remain as unplugged as possible, > > and spend> > the time I save by not going on Facebook doing something useful, > > such as> > reading books. And if I want to connect with the people around me, I > > will> > revert to an old piece of technology. It's free, it's easy and it > > delivers a> > uniquely individual experience in sharing information: it's called > > talking."> >> > You can read the whole op-ed at:> >> >> >> >> > Greetings and see you soon at St. Pete!> >> >> > --Moses> >> > _____________________________________________________________________> > SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social> > network researchers ( To unsubscribe, send> > an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line> > UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.> > - - - - - - - - d a n a h ( d o t ) o r g - - - - - - - -> > "cuz i don't care if they eat me alive> i've got better things to do than survive"> > musings ::> > _____________________________________________________________________> SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social> network researchers ( To unsubscribe, send> an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line> UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.
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