Thursday, November 12, 2009

Response to

"Facebook Science"

I had no idea that there was such a depth of scholarship involving websites like Myspace or Livejournal. Nevertheless, I suppose a wealth of observations about human behavior could be made studying them. And apparently, a wealth of observations have been made. The article raises several interesting ideas, some which mirror my own casual cognizance—and others which I had hardly conceived. There's also quite a bit of history to social networking sites which I hadn't expected.

I was one of the teenagers mentioned in the article whom found their way onto Myspace. By the time I signed on, all my friends already had established profiles. It was only the beginning of high school, yet half of my hometown was already using Myspace. Had this Myspace craze happened overnight or some nonchalant day in middle school? Myspace would interestingly be covered in the town newspaper, the Bristol Phoenix, I think it might have even made the front page.

There was a great amount of time spent on "impression management." I too worked myself silly on accurately expressing my person through Myspace. The freedom it allowed caused many of my friends to do the same. Celebrated vacation photos lined the background of many a page. I myself favored victorian wallpaper. I would tamper with the hues of my backdrops to match the tonal quality of the music I selected for my Myspace space. I tooled around with my picture as well, giving myself blue hair and a wanned complexion at one point. I felt it suited Enya's "Carribean Blue" which I frequently had whirling in the background. The over all effect was melancholy and tacky at once—an uncanny fit for my teenaged self.

My parents didn't like my flamboyant myspace displays. I was asked how I was presenting myself on the internet one day, when the Bristol Phoenix covered the Myspace phenomenon. Bringing up the page, my dad grimaced. I felt a little insulted. Especially because I had seen worse craft on my friend's pages, and my myspace excluded any embarrassingly sexual content.

Who should influence content on these personal pages? Who should a user expect as their audience?

These questions resonate with the legal issues the article raises. I know several people who've stamped big old hemp leaves in their backgrounds and feature blunts often in their photos. Are they protected against any police official who happens to be exploring Myspace for something else?

Do our legal documents give such protection in cyberspace?

Can any country's legal document be effective within the internet? The internet is after all, an international zone.

The article also conveys the trend that most people are more interested in connecting with people they already know rather than strangers. It had bothered me that so many were content to reaffirm their own little cliques online as opposed to actually networking and getting to know people they weren't friends with. I got to know a couple people who were in my graduating class a lot better from simply branching out.

I have noticed that people want to connect with certain groups. They want to network with all their old high school friends, and the individuals they encounter in their classes. Sites like facebook allow for these beneficial interlinkings to be managed. It is alarmingly easy to pass information among different individuals. This is perhaps why rumors can spread so quickly through facebook, all the same people become involved with one-another's secrets.

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