Social Networks

Entries related to social networks, group psychology, anthropology, and really any of the social sciences.

Dystopian Rabbits

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. We'll here we are, another October. Like other months, when I get time, I start off with a childhood invocation for good luck.

But it's October, thirty-seven years ago, a classmate of mine from high school disappeared. They found her body later in the month, but never found the murderer. Last year, during Hurricane Sandy, towards the end of October, my mother died in a car accident.

Looking back over my career, many of my job changes took place in October. My youngest daughter was born in October, as were some of my closest long time friends.

It's October, and the Government is shut down. This weekend, I sat on the porch, after making a batch of green apple jelly. Yes, I'm connected online. With my Google Glass, I get notifications as they happen. But there is something about sitting on the porch, having just made jelly.

I thought about when my mother was a kid. Yes, she heard, via the radio fairly quickly about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but most news was much slower then, and even more slow before the radio and telegraph. How much is this always on, instant notification contributing to disfunction in Washington, where people seem more interested in the political theatre of the sound bite than in sound governing?

How much is the medium the message?

I've been reading The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The setting is a utopian community in the mid nineteenth century. The hero is sick and reads books that other members of the community bring to him. Yet I'm reading it as an ebook on my smartphone. What is the mixed message of a nineteenth century novel on a twenty-first century device?

Kim and I have started watching "H+". It is a series about human implants, similar to Google Glass and a mass kill off of people with the implants due to a network virus. The medium is the message, as my wife and I watch it on an old TV hooked up to an old Roku which manages to still get YouTube. I watched an episode on Google Glass, which pushes the medium is the message idea even further.

And here I am, writing a blog post about it.

It is a post-apocalyptical world and I've been thinking about this new millennialism, a resurgence of apocalyptical thinking. No, we didn't have a Mayan apocalypse. We haven't had an apocalypse as a result of people of the same gender who love each other now being able to marry one another.

Now, even though the Federal Government is shutdown, you can go online and purchase health insurance. Like same-sex marriage, for some this looks like the end of the world. For others, the Federal Government shutdown looks like the end of the world.

But as I sat on the porch over the weekend, with a kitchen full of jams and jellies that I've made, and as I sit in my chair now, writing my blog post and listening to the large dog snore on the couch next to me, this is nothing like the end of the world in all the dystopian post-apocalyptical stories.

So I say Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, bringing back all the simple childhood hopes and memories in this complicated hyper-connected world as I think of dogs and jelly and porches, and trying to get back to sleep.

More About Glass and Healthcare

Matthew Katz recently posted a link to his article in KevinMD, Google Glass for medicine: 4 reasons why it could be disastrous saying:

Am I just turning into a technophobe? My post on KevinMD about Google Glass.

I replied:

As a person who has been using Google Glass for the past three months in a health care setting, I believe you have become a technophobe.
Privacy Violations: The same issue applies to cellphones. Are you going to ban them from your practice?

Hackable: Personal computers are hackable as well. Ban them? (I worked with security for a Swiss bank two decades ago when they said they'd never connect to the Internet because of security issues. There are risks with all technology, just like everything else in life. You can't ban life, instead, you need to mediate risks)

Concern with multitasking: This is probably the strongest point, which also seems pretty weak, based on my experience with Google Glass. Yet the interruptions I get from Google Glass, wearing it all the time, is similar to the interruptions I get from phone calls, overhead pages, and other staff members knocking on my door.

Google’s And medicine’s goals aren’t aligned: Again, on the surface, this seems like a valid point. However, from my experience dealing with pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufactures, and insurance companies, I suspect that Google's goals may be more closely aligned with medicine's goals than most companies working in health care.

Over on his article, I added a couple additional thoughts, edited for the blog here:

The other point that I would make is that Google Glass is not in BETA. Ity is not even in ALPHA. It is still a prototype. I think it is premature to make determinations about what a prototype is likely to do to a business. You might want to go back and look at the history of the Xerox.

The Smithsonian Article, Making Copies is a good starting point.

At first, nobody bought Chester Carlson's strange idea. But trillions of documents later, his invention is the biggest thing in printing since Gutenburg

Companies turned down the xerox machine because so few people made copies prior to it, they didn't think it would sell.

My experience with Glass, so far, is similar to my experiences with the Apple Newton in the early 90s. A lot of people didn't think much of the Newton back then, and it never really took off, but it laid the groundwork for smartphones today.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Glass follow a similar path and in twenty years be an all but forgotten precursor to ubiquitous wearable computing.

One last thought: it is worth looking at the Technology Adoption Life Cycle, as written about back in the 50's, particularly by Everett Rogers in his book Diffusion of Innovations.

Google Glass is at the very front end of the adoption lifecycle, where only a few innovators have been using it.  As has become more and more common these days, when a new innovation comes along, it often gets a backlash.  It seems that the backlash against an innovation is proportional to potential disruption the innovation carries.

As a final comment, I'd encourage you to read a blog post I wrote back in 2007 about Twitter:

Technology Adoption Curves and the Twitter Lifecycle

In a previous post about ad:tech, I mentioned how I learned about NY Times' Facebook page from a twitter by Steve Rubel. I commented about this in the press room, and one of the reporters was surprised to hear that twitter was still around and active. I reflected back on hearing speakers at OMMA predict the demise of Twitter, Facebook and Second Life and it struck me that the standard technology adoption curve that we all hear so much about, may have a lot of interesting nuances.

Martin, Nikki, Miley, Wayne, Antoinette, Bob, Maya and Shelley

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I am on vacation on Cape Cod and my friends are back from the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington. Sure, we have an African American President, but racism still abounds, as I am too frequently reminded of on Facebook.

Recent commentary has got me thinking more about black culture. When I think of black culture, I think of Nikki Giovanni ego tripping through Africa.

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

But that was over forty years ago. Where do egos trip today? At the video music awards, Miley Cyrus, apparently trying to tap into aspects of black culture, sang:

And we can't stop
And we won't stop
Can't you see it's we who own the night?
Can't you see it's we who 'bout that life?

Can't stop what? If you can't stop, you're out of control. You need help. Not being able to stop is a sign of addiction. It is part of the Lindsay Lohan path towards court mandated rehabilitation.

But we can stop, and we can stop in unexpected ways. After Newtown, Wayne LaPierre, NRA's executive vice president said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun". Antoinette Tuff showed this to be wrong, when she spoke from her own brokenness supported by a belief in God's love to stop a shooting.

My pastor, he just started this teaching on anchoring, and how you anchor yourself in the Lord…I just sat there and started praying.

Yes, Antoinette stopped a bad man with a gun. What will it take to stop a bad girl with a song?

As an aside, people are spending a lot of time complaining about how everyone is talking about Miley Cyrus as chemical weapons get used in Syria. This is not an either/or issue. In one discussion, I shared,

the dichotomy between women being violently oppressed because of social constructs of race and gender in the United States and women being violently oppressed by others seeking to maintain power in Syria through the use of chemical weapons seems a bit strained. Human justice for women battered because of the entertainment industry is as much of a human justice issue as how women are being battered by oppressors with chemical weapons on the world stage.

So, what will it take to stop a bad girl with a song, a bad girl with a performance that promotes the degradation of women and has troubling racial overtones? Perhaps, it takes a good man with a song,

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind…
All I ever had:
Redemption songs:
These songs of freedom,

Maybe it will take a great woman with a poem:

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Or, as one strong preacher woman I know put it:

Janet's Wardrobe Malfunction; Madonna & Brittany's Kiss; Miley Cyrus's pitiful twerk...its still the oldest profession and pays the bills. Media Pimps and Women are exploited commodities in our sexist world. Pray for our sisters, our daughters, ourselves. Now Rise!

We should not slut shame Miley. We should not overlook the role of those around her in creating and performing the VMA performance. Instead, as Shelly said, we should pray for them, and all of us.

More About Facebook and Sadness

Yesterday, I wrote about whether or not Facebook makes you sad. Today, I turn my attention to the news.

UN pushes Syria for chemical probe, activists send samples
Syria war has created 1 million child refugees
Israel strikes militant base in Lebanon after rocket fire
US soldier apologizes for 'cowardice' in murder of 16 Afghan civilians
Brazil central bank commits $60bn to prop up currency
Crisis of market confidence after Nasdaq shutdown
Illinois Unemployment Second Highest In Nation
UPS to end health insurance for working spouses
Egyptian Tomb Bats Carry MERS Coronavirus
Beastly fire disrupts Idaho vacation heaven; smoke casts shadow over economy
Tropical depression moving northwest in Pacific
Jury expected to begin deliberating case of Ohio mom accused in classroom brawl
US, Australian agents seize $330 million in cocaine from yacht in Pacific nation
Ryan Braun finally admits drug use in 2011

In contrast, I look at the messages on Facebook.

Moments of Gratitude
Today is my last full day of life in India. The grace of God has allowed me this privilege. I am grateful.
Meet the Woman Who Prevented a Mass School Shooting Yesterday
On my way to New Mexico to attend the NALEO Policy Institute on The Changing Dynamics of the 50+ Population.
An image of Christians protecting Muslims and vice versa in Egypt
A picture of a celebration of the nurse practitioner residency program graduates at the community health center.
An image of coworkers white water rafting
An image of a friend delivering his son to college
A picture of a State Rep being recognized for supporting a great community organization
A picture of a boy fighting childhood cancer as he kicks a soccer ball with his prosthetic leg
For those of you that don't know, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month! Lets make this year matter!

Does Facebook Make You Sad?

There is an old saying that you are what you eat, but these days, as I get more exercise going for walks during the day, I've come to realize, it isn't just what you eat, but what you do with it afterwards, how you metabolize it, that matters.

In the past, I've written about how the idea, "you are what you eat", applies to social media. What is your media diet? What are your friends saying on Facebook? Are you spending time reading people online that edify you or that tear you down?

It is the sort of question that those in the Christian tradition are likely to confront as they read Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

These thoughts have come back to me recently as I've followed the discussion about a recent study about Facebook use. NPR ran the headline, Facebook Makes Us Sadder And Less Satisfied, Study Finds

One friend on Facebook shared this saying,

Somehow this doesn't surprise me... Too much screen time is too much screen time.

Yet as we dig a little deeper, we find some interesting details. The study, entitled Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults was of 82 people around Ann Arbor Michigan, with an average age of about 20. Sixty percent of the subjects were female.

I do question how well this sample reflect Facebook users in general, as well as some of the conjectures about the meaning of the study. The NPR article says,

The study authors did not get at the reasons Facebook made their test subjects feel glum. But Jonides suspects it may have to do with social comparison.

"When you're on a site like Facebook, you get lots of posts about what people are doing. That sets up social comparison — you maybe feel your life is not as full and rich as those people you see on Facebook," he says.

Perhaps it isn't what your media diet is, "lots of posts about what people are doing", but what you do with it. I wrote about the what you eat part of this earlier in You Are What You Eat, the Online Version. What are the choices you make about who you follow on Social Media? Are they people that you can learn from? Do they represent a diverse set of views and experiences? Or are they mostly fellow classmates at University of Michigan going through very similar experiences as you are?

To broaden it, a bit more, are you in a Filter Bubble as Eli Pariser describes it?

Today, I read Facebook posts about a young muslim woman who has already led a very tough life. She lost her son to brain cancer. She is fighting chronic illness of her own, and her relationships with others have not always been as nurturing as one would hope.

Yesterday, she wrote,

Today I was thinking about my son Junaid ... I was thinking about the moments up to when he took his last breath. I was thinking about the state I was in when he took his last breath. Subhan Allah sometimes I felt like I want to loose my mind, but Allah would not allow it, to this day I sometimes don't want to feel at all (go numb) sometimes I cry and sometimes, I ask Allah why.

This woman is one of the strongest women I know. She is doing great things for her community and I have learned a great deal from her.

Today, I read the article School Clerk In Georgia Persuaded Gunman To Lay Down Weapons, which I found through a friend on Facebook.

Yes, I have a bias towards social media. It is what I do professionally. So, I did what any person with an interest in social media and a little investigative reporting would do and sought out Antoinette Tuff's Facebook page. The items over the past few months are a nice compliment to what she said in the interview. Back in June, she posted

God is opening so many doors in my life until I can't do anything but sit here and just cry and watch HIM move just had he has promise me for so many years. Thank u GOD for all that u r doing and the many millions u r going to continue to do. To God be the glory. Thx. Thx Thx God

Little did she know what those doors would lead to, two months later.

As I write this post, I take a few moments to look at Facebook statuses. My eldest daughter is teaching in Japan. I glance at pictures of some of the places she has been. I have yet to make it to Japan, and I could get stuck in social comparison and feel sad that she has gotten to travel to places that so far, I've only dreamt of visiting.

I see posts from high school classmates that I've known for over three decades. One posts regularly about time with his grandchildren. I don't have grandchildren yet and I'm pleased that my children are busy doing other great things besides starting families right now, but I can still rejoice in my friends joy about his extended family.

Another friend from high school has posted great pictures of her vacation on Cape Cod. In a few days, I will be heading out to Cape Cod, and I look forward to my time of relaxation after a very hard year, and I'm glad to see the joy my friends trip to Cape Cod has brought her.

It would be very interesting to see this study redone with a larger set of subjects. Does Facebook usage result in declined feelings of personal well being for all people? Does it depend on age? Economic status? Diversity of friends on Facebook? What the subjects post? What sort of emotional, psychological or life skills the subjects have developed? The amount of time on Facebook?

Does Facebook make us sad? Perhaps if we are college kids who are not seeking a diverse set of Facebook friends and have not yet learned to join with the struggles of friends that are struggling, and rejoice with friends that rejoice. But perhaps that is not so much about Facebook as it is about growing up and maturing.

For me, the new worlds I see, whether it is the painful life of a muslim woman, the wonderful travel of my daughter and other friends, or the simple pleasures of long time friends brings me great joy, and I hope my readers can find ways to re-approach social media so that they can get similar joys.

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