Monday, February 28, 2011

Social Media Suicide

There is now a website called, "Web 2.0 Suicide Machine," with the slogan, "Meet Your Real Neighbours Again!"
The website helps you delete all of your social media profiles, delete all your "friends" on social media and, "do away with your Web2.0 alter-ego." Instead of the term "delete," the Suicide Machine uses the word "kill" synonymously. Kill your friends. Kill your profile. Cheery, eh? The noose logo really tops it off.

How It Works
You click the social media platform you want to delete. In a form on the homepage you will enter your username and password information. The website will let you watch as your profile is slowly "killed." They delete your profile information, your photos, your friends, one by one. By using the website the site claims it will only take 52 minutes (based on a 1,000 friend Facebook) versus the 9 hours and 35 minutes it would take to delete it piece by piece manually.   

Anti-Social VS Pro-Social
While it's quite clever to create a site like this to promote pro-social behavior, the morbid angle they took doesn't sit right with me. Also, I do think that social media can be a good thing! Of course it's terrible when people let it take over their lives, but the complete absence of social media could lead to missed professional opportunities and social ostracism.

How did I even find out about this website? Social media. Social media allows users to share news articles, blogs, and websites instantly, and sharing information is not a bad thing. This site is sending a great message, but in this society people need to get to know friends on and off the screen. You can learn a lot about a person by what links and thoughts they share on the Facebook and Twitter that you might not otherwise see. People who can't handle social media and let it consume their day to day activities have other psychological issues. It's unfair to solely blame social media for the problems people have. Some people are crazy, social media or no social media.

Facebook Fights Back
Thought only about 900 people have left social media via Social Suicide since December, Facebook decided to fight back by blocking the IP address. The process, which involved submitted login information to the site, is in violations of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities of Facebook. It may be only a matter of time until other sites like Twitter and LinkedIn follow suit.

Personally, I find this website unsettling and slightly sadistic. Here is an excerpt from the site's FAQ:
If I start killing my 2.0-self, can I stop the process?

If I start killing my 2.0-self, can YOU stop the process?

Anyone else beginning to feel uneasy? Watch the following video to get a better idea of what the website is all about. 

web 2.0 suicide machine - untwitter from moddr_ on Vimeo.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Cyber bullying and Social Networking

A tragedy that was plastered all over the news in March 2010 was the suicide of Alexis Pilkington. While her parents have argued that cyber bullying was not the cause of her death, it inspired many anti-bullying movements, including this heartfelt YouTube video.

Cyber Bullying is when people take traditional bullying (teasing, calling people bad names, harrassment) online to social media websites and other forms of online communication. Straubhaar states that it is when "youth" do this, but I think bullying can occur at any age (Straubhaar, 425). 

Although the highly publicized suicide of Phoebe Prince in January 2010 was caused my traditional bullying, cyber bullying began after her death, with malicious comments posted on her Facebook memorial page. You have to ask yourself, why would someone do that? Clearly, they would not get a reaction of out Phoebe postmortem, so they must have been looking for the attention from everyone else.

A New Jersey middle school principal sent an email to parents asking them to get their children off social networking sites because of the antisocial behaviors they cause. The guidance counselor at the school said 75% of her time was spent dealing with students and their problems stemming from social networking websites. I don't think this is an odd statistic at all! In fact, I expect this. People are communicating via social media more and more. My friend Teresa and I used to talk on the phone for hours in middle school. If I was in middle school today, that conversation might have taken place via Twitter at-replies or Facebook wallposts or chats. If before I had a fight with Teresa on the phone, the guidance counselor would not have said "Telephones cause drama with kids." Social media, like telephones, may facilitate drama and cyberbullying, but I would never say that it causes it.

One times in middle school these two girls three-way called an unknowing girl, and girl 1 coaxed her into speaking badly about girl 2. This same scenario could easily happen if girls 1 and 2 were at one house and girl 1 initiated a Facebook chat with the unknowing girl. Bullying hasn't necessarily changed. It's the method in which people do it that has changed.

Personally, I think middle shoolers should be allowed on social networking website, with some parental monitoring and time restrictions. As a middle schooler I remember using AIM, Xanga, Livejournal and Myspace. My parents didn't monitor me at all, and looking back I was probably a little unsafe with my privacy, but I never experienced online bullying. If you notice your child has become addicted to the computer, put time limits on their usage and encourage participation in sports and school groups. Gluing yourself to the computer screen at any age is a problem, but especially to people so young. The more time they spend on the computer, the more potential for trouble. What did I do on AIM as a kid? Probably a lot of small talk, but I can specifically remember a ton of gossip. My mom would get upset if I spent too much time on the computer, and now I understand why.

The information gap is growing. The knowledge gap hypothesis, as explained by Straubhaar, is when the information-rich get richer faster than the information-poor, even though new information technologies are coming out that help both parties (Straubhaar, 436). While this section of the book is mainly talking about the difference between social groups as defined by wealth, race, and gender, there is quite the information gap between generations. There are over 500 million active users on facebook, and more than 50% of these users log on at least once a day. I did argue that bullying can happen at any age, but I do think it's more prevalent with the youth, the main group of people on Facebook. Sometimes I think kid's parents don't know how to help them or prevent problems because many of them have little to no experience with social media.

What do you think:

Has social networking increased bullying or does it just make bullying easier for kids that are bullies already?

NY Daily News
Finding Dulcinea
Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture, and Technology
Facebook Stats

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Violence in Video Games

A highly debated topic, violence in video games continues to attract attention. This article on Lazy Gamer opens with the line:
"While we all know that videogame violence doesn’t cause violence in society the mainstream media still love prancing on about this."
It seems the greatest protesters of this idea are gamers themselves. The article goes on to criticize a poor experiment by the Munwha Broadcasting Company in South Korea where they turned off the power at an internet cafe and concluded video games lead to violence after the gamers in the cafe were angered. I have to side with Lazy Gamer when they wrote that this is the stupidest experiment ever.

Source: Lazy Gamer

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Media and Antisocial Behavior

Almost every media class I've been in has brought up the question, "Does the media cause violence?" Violence, prejudice and drug abuse are just a few antisocial behaviors discussed in Media Now. This blog will explore how the media may lead to antisocial behavior, for the class COM3332, New Communication Technology, at Florida State University. In particular, I will focus on the impacts of computer media and its relation with teen suicide and cyber bullying.

Check out these blogs from my classmates:
Through the Eyes of Egypt
Anti-Abortion Protest