Final Paper

June 4, 2010

Does the internet bring people closer or further apart?

        According to Bill Clinton, the former U.S. President, “Advances in computer technology and the Internet have changed the way America works, learns, and communicates. The Internet has become an integral part of America’s economic, political, and social life” (thinkexist.com). The quotation points out that internet plays a significant role in people’s life in every aspects. Nowadays, people use internet to shop, chat with friends, read news, research information, connect with families, watch shows, and so on, and people rely on the internet a lot. Often people find it very difficult to detach internet at these days like the experiment we did in week 5 (Cyber-Addiction). As the internet becomes more important, the issues of internet have also been recognized. There are some positives and negatives regarding the internet, and people have different opinions. Some people wonder if the internet breaks people apart or bring them closer to each other. Actually, the internet brings people closer as a connecting tool between people and strangers, old lost-contact friends, new friends, and not-able-to-meet friends.

       Carter states in Living in virtual communities: an ethnography of human relationships in cyberspace, many people have built deep meaningful friendships or relationships with random people they meet from online communities. They first meet online, and over time, the online friendship develops into an offline real-life friendship. Online dating websites also serve the same function to start a relationship with a stranger online. In the experiment we did for online dating, when I went through the profiles, most people are trying to find a future intimate partner and some people are just looking for someone to friend with because they are new in town or some other reasons. On both the social network websites or dating websites, people are able to write about themselves, put on interests, likes and dislikes; as a result, people can find someone they share the same interest which increases the likelihood of building a friendship. In addition, people increase the probabilities of being found by other internet users by having a online profile. Internet provides people the service to meet new friends and expand their social capital.

In The Benefits of Facebook ‘‘Friends:’’ Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites, the authors mention that Facebook, a popular social network website, helps people to maintain existing friends and keep tabs on distant friends. People are social animals, and we always need to have friends ever since like when people are just two or three years old, and we make friends with neighbors’ kids. While we are growing up, we have made so many friends from school or other social settings. However, friends are not easy to maintain. People can easily lose in touch because of lost phone number/email address, busy schedules, move, graduate, and so forth. Luckily, with the use of internet, it is now easier to keep in touch with others. In addition, I have found my elementary classmates I haven’t had contact after elementary graduation through Facebook. In addition, when people make new friends, we can use internet to find out what the friends are like and their interests. We can have a general idea of the new friend by the small things on his/her online profile. This idea is known as “ambient awareness” which was introduced by social scientists to describe this sort of incessant online contact. As well as the stalking experiment, we can stalk people online and search things about them, and we are able to know so many things we wouldn’t have known if we were just classmates for a class meets once a week. Internet gives people opportunities to get closer to their former lost-contact friends and new friends.

We have established that internet is important for people to maintain social capital. In general, there would be some friends come and go. At that time, internet becomes a very important tool to connect each other and bring people together. Without internet, the tools of connecting each other are very limited such as via phone or meet in person. However, make a call or meet in person require more time and effort. Online is more instant and can be done anywhere and almost anytime. It takes effort to maintain a relationship with someone who is not at the same place you are, especially overseas. For example, most of my friends are in Taiwan, and the internet becomes the bridge which connects me and my friends. It would be difficult and costly to make international calls to my friends or mail them which is time consuming. Through internet, I am able to know what is going on with them or let them know what happened to me with no cost and get instant responses. Without internet, there is a high likelihood I would just lose in touch with my friends because we are not able to contact each other and provide instant supports. With internet, even though two people are separated by Pacific Ocean, they can still be as close as like living next door.

The biggest strength of internet is probably the convenience it brings to people which makes people able to get closer with different types of friendships. Internet gives people places to make friends with random strangers they meet online which shorten the distance between two people instantly after the initial meeting through online social network sites. It also provides people chances to re-connect with friends and helps people to know better with their new friends. By looking through the information about their friends online, people feel they are more familiar with the new friends. The familiarity decreases the psychological distance between two people which makes them more closes with each other psychologically. Unlike traditional communication tools, internet offers free and instant service as a bridge connecting two friends who are not at the same place. Familiarities and support are major parts of friendships, and the internet enables people to maintain the closeness. Even though people may be apart physically, the internet helps people close to each other mentally.

 

Works Cited

Clinton, Bill. “Internet Quotes.” Find the Famous Quotes You Need, ThinkExist.com Quotations. Web. 03 June 2010. <http://thinkexist.com/quotations/internet/3.html&gt;.

Carter, Denise(2005) ‘Living in virtual communities: an ethnography of human relationships in cyberspace’, Information, Communication & Society, 8: 2,

Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The Benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, (pg. 1145-1148, pg. 1153-1165)

THOMPSON, CLIVE. “The New York Times.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. The New York Times, 5 Sept. 2008. Web. 03 June 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/07/magazine/07awareness-t.html?_r=4&ref=technology&pagewanted=all&gt;.

Week 5 Experiment: No internet for a day

Week 7 Experiment: Stalking

Week 8 Experiment: Online Dating

Advertisements

Happiness

May 28, 2010

Journal#8

For offline happiness, I went out with my friends for dinner (after school) and we hung out for a while. We both have been so busy, and haven’t had a chance to hang out. I was pretty happy that we both could make the dinner, and we shared what has been going on with us. We also talked about our other old friends and all the nice memories, and it is always fun to talk about the past. After I went home, I called my mom to check on her flight because she is coming to my graduation. I also talked to my sisters, and I got to know what’s new in my family and what happened recently. I also had the first connection with my newborn nephew; I heard him crying! That international call was three hours long, and we just like kept talking and talking. Although it was really late when I finished that call, I was pretty happy. I don’t often call back home because I have been busy with school and the time difference, but it is always nice to talk to families. For online activities, it was basically what I do everyday, nothing special. I went on facebook, a Taiwanese BBS I used to hang out, chatting with friends online, watching videos on YouTube, and reading some news article, and so on. I feel the happy emotion during offline activities was much stronger and noticeable than I was doing online activities. I would say “I am so happy to go to dinner with my old friends,” but I would rarely say “I am so happy to be on facebook.” Online activities are just like things I do everyday, so it is not as special as offline activities. I don’t go out for dinner friends everyday, and I don’t call my family in a daily basis. The events are more special and elicit stronger emotion of happiness compared to daily online activities. One situation I might say “I am so happy to be online.” It is probably because I haven’t had a chance to go online for a while or it has been breaking down. The happiness I feel may be a result of availability of the activities, but for the online example I just gave, I think the happiness is more like a relief, not so much “happy” I would feel when I go out with friends. Overall, I think I like the offline activities better but I still need internet for sure!

The article this week mentioned that internet provides places people can seek for support, and the needs come from the collapse of family and community structures in Western societies. It also talks about that people nowadays spend more time on computers than hanging out with neighbors. I agree because when I was little, no one I knew had a computer, and the neighbor kids used to play together outside. Nowadays, there can be times the whole family is home, but everyone just stays in their own rooms and play with computers. I also agree it said that “The internet is providing some help for people to find satisfaction in their lives.” From the experiment this week, I think internet is a tool that we can elaborate on the activities people feel happy doing. For example, I enjoy going to a baseball game, and the easiest way to find out the schedule is go online and check out the time and team they are competing. Or I want to go to dinner with friends, and I can do some restaurant hunting online and see people’s opinions, so we can have a great meal and nice time together. Internet has become so important that it seems to be really hard to cut it off from a person’s life. It does have some negative influence on people but it can also be a good tool to enhance people’s satisfaction and happiness if use correctly and combine with real life.

Online Dating

May 21, 2010

Journal#7

This is my first time using an online dating website. The information displayed on the profile is very detailed, and it also asks users to write about themselves which is required. When I was looking through other people’s profiles, most people write a lot about themselves. If the information they provide is true, then I can tell what kind of person they are. I selected profiles I wanted to look at by age and where they live. I tended to choose someone who is under 30 and lives around LA. All the profiles I looked at happened to have at least a bachelor degree. Although some people may seem have good occupations and good incomes, I still would not consider dating them. I just feel it is weird to meet someone simply for a date. One thing I found interesting is that men usually don’t care their dates’ height. However, women are more likely to specify the ideal height they want for dates.

One of my close friends is very active on online dating, and she has met at least 10+ people in person via online dating websites. In the reading this week, it mentions that “negative attitudes specific to internet dating are related to safety and deception on the internet and the type of people who use internet dating.” I have to admit that I have the same opinion toward online dating. There is news about women being killed, raped, or abused when they go on a date with the person they met online. It could be a representativeness heuristic because the media hardly report happily couples met through online dating websites. However, it is still scary because we never know if the person is a good person or a serial killer. This is why I am worried everytime I know my friend is going to meet someone from internet. Definitely, she has met some nice people, but she also has encountered some scams. Fortunately, my friend is smart enough to figure out the trap. Just a couple weeks ago, a guy she has been talking to for like a week called her saying that he was in a business trip in London with his son. His son got hurt, but the hospital would not perform surgery unless he pays the deposits. However, he did not have that much of money with him at that point. He asked my friend for a favor see if she could lend him money, so the hospital could save his little precious boy. Of course, my friend did not lend him the money. She just told him to go to a public hospital. She told me this is a typical Nigerian dating scam, and she has gotten this kind of calls so many times. My friend knows what is going on, but some people may not know. I believe that people can definitely find true love via online dating websites, but people (both males and females) need to be careful and be smart!!!

Internet privacy

May 14, 2010

Journal#6

The person I stalked was Jace Wong (Jason Christopher Wong), and he was born in 1988 in Los Angeles. He grew up in Arcadia, and he is the youngest of three boys. His mother is Japanese, and I think he is influenced by his Japanese side a lot. He likes Haruki Murakami, Akira Kurosawa, Hayao Miyazaki, Japanese film, Muji, and so on. He also likes many things related to art probably because he majors in Art and minor in Art history in UCLA. Currently, he works at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra and has been working there since December, 2006. His favorite quote about Art is “art’s strength is that even the preceding sentence is an assertation, and cannot be verified by art. Art’s only claim is for art. art is the definition of art” by joseph kosuth. He has a couple websites of himself which he puts his work on such as his paintings. He also likes music a lot because he has many music videos posted on his wall. His no.1 album in 2009 is Machine Dreams by Little Dragon. He also made a plan to attend Stars’ special preview shows for their new album, “The Five Ghosts”. It seems like Jace is really into art music which is good and reasonable according to his major.

Internet privacy has been a concern in current days with all the blogs, social networking sites, and search engines which allow people to find information about anything else relatively easy. In the article, it asks a question “In an age of digital media, do we really have any privacy?” My answer was the same as Gandy, no. Once, I googled my real name, and the results were shocking! In Taiwan, my name is kind of unique and not many people have the same name as mine. Unlike other people who have more usual names which means the results would contain so many other people’s information, well…my google results were basically just me! I was looking at the revealed information lying so neatly on the webpage, and I felt weird and maybe a little scared. Although the information I googled out were not harmful and not very private, still, if someone want to do something about it, they could. Just by knowing my name and google it! Also, I once saw my friend using a website trying to find out if her date’s information was true. Anyway, what that website does is basically typing in a name and maybe location (don’t quiet remember), and it gives you the person’s address and home phone number! How scary! In addition to that, you can request a report of that person!! It costs money, but from what I remember, it doesn’t cost a lot which makes it scarier!

Power of Facebook!

May 7, 2010

Journal#5

According to the article, friends, neighbors, and relationships with others are forms of our social capital. I agree with that internet is important for people to maintain social capital. In general, people do not stay in the same place for their whole life. Even though they do not move at all, there would be some friends come and go. At that time, internet becomes a very important tool to connect each other. Without internet, the tools of connecting each other are very limited such as via phone or meet in person. However, make a call or meet in person require more time and effort. Online is more instant and can be done anywhere and almost anytime. It takes effort to maintain a relationship with someone, and it is especially difficult when you are overseas. Most of my friends are in Taiwan, and it is not possible for me to make international calls to friends every couple of days to catch up. Therefore, internet becomes the bridge which connects me and my friends and my families as well. Even though I am not able to go out with my friends in a physical way, I can talk to them online and we can still feel a connection between us. Via internet, I still know what is going on with my friends. When they are in need, I will be able to provide help in some ways, and vice versa.

Posting questions and asking for help online is very common. I have done it many times, and generally, I got pretty good responses. For this week’s experiment, my first asked favor was looking for software that I can personalize certificates. I did not get any response on facebook, but I got answers on my msn. Some of friends saw my status, and they recommend me some on msn messenger. I would say via internet, I still got the response which was good. Then I posted a sentence saying I want an orange tree. I did not explicitly ask for a favor or a question, but my facebook friends provided me the information of where I can get the trees and how to take care of them. The last one was that I ask why psychology only gets two free graduation tickets while some departments get four! This question wasn’t taken very seriously because my friends just started to chat, but we did come up an explanation for my question after all. I think facebook or any online communication tool is very convenient for people to seek for help, and people start to use it a lot more now. One reason might be that asking a favor online without specific target is easier because you don’t have to face the embarrassment of being rejected. It is also convenient that you already have many friends online and they can all see your status. It is like you are making a giant massive call to everyone asking for help instead of calling each person one at a time. All a person has to do is to post the question on your facebook and wait, and then here is the answer. This is the power of facebook!

Live without internet for A DAY!!!!!!!!!

April 30, 2010

Journal #4

For this week’s experiment, I picked the day that I planned to go out with friends. From past experiences, I usually don’t use computer when I hang out with friends, so I think this would be easier to me to live without internet for a day. However, I was wrong. It was so hard! First, I had to fight my instinct to not turn on the computer when I woke up in the morning which is usually the first thing I do besides turn off the alarm. Then I had to leave the house without checking my mails, messages and facebook. I felt a little weird, but luckily, I got to hang out with my friends later, so I had something else to do. The tricky part was when I came back home, I didn’t know what to do! I was so anxious. I kept wondering if I got any emails or messages. Since I don’t own a TV, I usually get information or news from the internet. At that time, without the internet, I didn’t know what was going on around the world. Also, I felt like I had nothing to do. Usually, I would go online talking to friends, browse some forums, checking emails and lots of things to do online, and that make time go really fast. All of a sudden, they were taken away, and I was like “ok…what should I do now?” I ended up cleaning the house which I have always wanted to do but not able to because everytime when I am off the internet, it is too late to do the housework.

Before doing the experiment, I knew I was going to have a hard time with it, and I was. Internet has been a huge part of our lives in our generation. I can stand not to talk to friends for a day, but I really cannot live without internet. I went to bed very early on the day I did the experiment. In the article, those students are taken away from any social medias which include cell phones and internet. I have to agree with them saying they felt left out from the world. I cannot imagine how we could get contact with friends without phones and internet. We don’t write anymore. Even if we do, it’s not an efficient to get responses. I think the experiment is very scary in some ways but also very nice to think about how we as human are manipulated by technologies. I did not have a computer until I was 17, and I was fine without a computer for 17 years. How come now I cannot stand live without it just for a day? I think I rely too much on the computer. I remember I used to turn off the computer when I want to study because it’s too distracted. When I was doing the experiment, I literally felt my world was so quiet without the huge amount of information from internet. It was very weird but actually very nice to let the brain rest for a while. Overall, it was a great experience!

Online Forum

April 23, 2010

Journal #3

To me, forums are a useful tool to get information, research, and find answers, but I rarely post. Sometimes, I am scared of posting something which is already in the forum because I have seen people being harsh to people who ask very easy questions or questions that have been asked for a thousand times. Some people would tell them to do some research by themselves. In general, people I have seen are very nice, and they are willing to share and answer questions as long as you are polite and not just hoping people do everything for you. Everytime I want to post something, I would make sure that no one has asked it before. I did the same thing when I posted in the cooking forum I chose. I asked what kinds of food would remind them of their childhood, and I also gave an example of my experience. This is actually a feeling that I have experienced from time to time, and I would love to know if other people also share the same experience and how they feel it. I posted it late at night, and I checked it first thing in the morning. The good thing about online forum is that users are from everywhere, so there were still people responding to my post when it was 4am in CA. I found it really fun reading people’s responses, and I think some people actually put some effort into it. The uniqueness is that it would be difficult to find a place to have the discussion with people from many different places, at different ages, and have different backgrounds in real life. However, it is so easy to have the discussion online. All I have to do is to join a cooking forum, and then I can find a group of people who share the same interest.

        My experience with this week’s activity also corresponds to the reading. In the article, it mentions that cybercity is just another place to meet people to inhabitants. I think it is true because it is not like they cannot make friends in real life. Online community is another social place to meet friends just like we make friends at school or at a party in real life. In my opinion, making friends online is actually more convenient and easier than in real life. In terms of convenience, we can easily find people who share the same interest with us just by joining a forum we are interested in. In terms of ease, in cybercity, people are there to make friends. However, in real life, we meet people at different situations but we may not be ready to make friends with every person we meet. For example, at school, we have a lot of classmates but we are all so busy with running to other classes, handing in papers, or other things. We may not have time to have a nice talk with people we meet and this makes it harder to make friends in real life than online. Even though there are some benefits from meeting friends online, there are risks. According to the experiment we did last week, you don’t know if the person you talk to is really who he/she is!! That’s scary! So we need to watch out and be smart when we meet friends online.

Conversation with a stranger!

April 16, 2010

Fb journal#2

It has been so long for me to just talk to random people on the internet, and this time, I have to pretend to be someone else. At first, I chose to pretend as an European male. Here comes my first conversation with a stranger.  

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

Stranger: hi

You: hi~

Stranger: h ru

Stranger: 18 m

Stranger: u

You: good but tired

You: how about you

Stranger: ur m or f

You: m 

Your conversational partner has disconnected.

I was disconnected the next second I told him I was a male! I was shocked but also felt so funny. He did not want to talk to me at all just because I was the same sex as him. I am sure I would have a longer conversation with him if I have had told him I am female. I kind of knew the phenomenon, but I have never experienced this kind of rejection myself before as a girl. Interestingly, this happened not only once, so I gave up pretending to be a guy because I wanted a longer conversation.

Finally, I talked to this guy who lives in Maryland, and he is a graphic designer. I told him I was turning 18, and I was a Swedish who just moved to Cambridge, UK. I didn’t tell him my gender, but I think he could tell I am a girl. From the experiment, I think it is not difficult to pretend to be someone else, but you need to be somewhat familiar with the identity you are faking. For example, I chose living in Cambridge because I have been there for one summer. Therefore, if the stranger asks something about Cambridge, I can answer. Also, because I do not have many guy friends, I am not that familiar with how guys talk. I think if I tried to pretend as a male, it would be a lot harder. However, it is definitely a lot easier to fake online than in real life. Through omegle.com, the stranger can only see the sentences I typed. The person could not see me, so even I am pretending to be a total different person, he could not caught me. Same as faking on a personal webpage, no one would know you are faking. Also, even though you get caught, you can just turn off the computer, create a new personal webpage, or disconnect the conversation, and you are fine. The responsibility of being someone else online is not as severe as in real life. In the Cheung article, it mentioned that “a personal homepage helps some people (homosexuals, fat people, and so on) to reveal their identities without risking the rejection or harassment that may be experienced in everyday life. This is true, but it is also true for them to increase the chances to get harassed. Minorities may feel safe to express their identities online without revealing who they are in real life, and same for cyberbullies to express their negative opinions toward them. I think a personal homepage definitely has some benefits, but we also have to realize there are risks.  

Conversation with a stranger:

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

Stranger: hello

You: hi

Stranger: how are you

You: pretty good

You: turning 18 tomorrow!!

You: how are you

Stranger: well happy bday

You: thank you~~ =D

Stranger: doing well

You: where do you live

Stranger: maryland

Stranger: you?

You: Cambridge, UK

Stranger: cool..

Stranger: you in school there?

You: Yes.

You: but I just moved here a couple of months ago

Stranger: where are you from orginally?

You: because of my dad’s work

You: Sweden

Stranger: cool…do you like it?

You: yeah~~ its slow-pathed

You: its really pretty here

You: but i am having a hrad time with the british accent 😦

Stranger: aww

Stranger: so would i

You: how’s life in maryland?

Stranger: not too bad

Stranger: just relaxing

You: how’s it like? i’ve never been to america

Stranger: well….right now its just starting to get warm

Stranger: trees are starting to bloom

You: it sounds really beautiful

Stranger: some parts are…

Stranger: i live in kinda a urban area

You: are you a student?

Stranger: no…i work as a graphic designer

You: cool!!!

You: what do you do as a graphic designer?

Stranger: i work on print ads mainly

You: i have a cousin who does that too

Stranger: cool

You: but he said it takes him a lot of time, and sometimes he needs to work overtime in order to finish his case

You: is it the same in america?

Stranger: yes..it can be pretty time consuming

Stranger: so do you come here often?

You: you mean america?

Stranger: no…chat

You: oh well sometimes

You: do you?

Stranger: sometimes as well

You: one friend told me here said if I got lonely in cambridge, i can always find people to chat

Stranger: that is true

Stranger: are you lonely now?

You: sort of… my birthday is tomorrow, but most of my friends are in Sweden

Stranger: aww…

You: good thing my family is here AT LEAST

Stranger: thats good

You: actually we are going to london tomorrow

You: i am very excited about the trip

Stranger: i have always wanted to go there

You: really, me too

You: i want to go see the big ben, london eye… like a tourist 😀

Stranger: as you should

Stranger: lol

You: Yes, I will!! lol

You: well, I have to go

Stranger: aww…well nice meeting you

You: very nice meeting you

Stranger: sorry i was boring you

Stranger: lol

You: dont be silly

You: i had fun talking to you =D

Stranger: why thank you

You: hope to see you next time

You: bye~

Stranger: same here

Stranger: bye

Week 2 Journal

April 13, 2010

The experiment is a very unique experience to me because I rarely update my status. I usually update my status only when big things happen such as earthquakes and that do not happen often. In the experiment, I tried to update my status of different things include uploaded pictures, shared a music video, shared a news, and changed my status. The most interesting thing I found was that I was addicted to see people’s responses. I literally spent the whole day sitting in front of my laptop and refreshing the facebook webpage to see if I got any new responses. For example, I shared a news and I also commented on it, and I wondered if other people feel the same way as me, so I would check back over and over again. Sometimes, when my friends comment on my status, I started to chat with them under the comment section. However, when I think about it, wouldn’t it be easier for me to chat with her on msn instead of facebook? But we are so used to comment back and forth on facebook now when we used to talk on msn privately. I am surprised by how our behaviors are shaped by facebook over time. Also, I am amazed by whenever I update my facebook, there are people on facebbok to comment on it!

        Respond to the article, Zuckerbergc, the facebook founder, developed News Feed which shows every person’s updates but let user decide what information they want to share. It seems like facebook gives users options of privacy but I think it is not enough, especially the blocking option. On facebook, when you defriend someone, they know it! Also, other people can see your pictures if they are friends with your friends. I really like what my friend said, “if you want to have privacy, do not use facebook.” Facebook is like a big pool of friends, and it is a good source to connect with friends. I agree with the phenomenon, “ambient awareness.” It is good to get to know someone you are not familiar with by taking from many little things they share on facebook. I think it is a good start to build a relationship with someone else. At least, you would have something to talk about. However, I feel if you want to have a deep relationship with a person, you cannot just be facebook friends! Facebook is a useful tool but not everything.