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Social Networks and their effects on our lives

MSA322's picture
These are students that I have interviewed for my paper and asked questions about social networks.





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            How do social networks shape us. Where is privacy now? Are we better connected together now that we have these social networks? Or is the elimination of privacy going to lead to greater problems on the individual and social levels?
            What is it about the social networks that makes the majority of us so addicted to them? Is it our ability to shape who we want to be rather than show who we are? Will it lead to an increase of insecurities or will rather end up in a more connected world?
            We are all public figures now; more or less like any other politician, artist, singer, actor or a business owner. We are more open to sharing our private lives with each other in public aesthetics than ever before.  
            In my project I try to study the effect of the internet and specifically social networks on our social and educational lives. This topic is not a new one, but rather a fairly popular discussion that one could start with a big discussion in little time.
            For my project, I made a survey that was titled “Social network’s effect on our lives” and sent it to the residence of my dorm as well as my teammates, and posted it on Facebook. My intent was to see how fast people respond and how do their responses vary. In a period of a day, 80 people responded, which was interesting, yet expected.
I also made a video after interviewing students on campus. I aimed for the video to show the responses of people to these questions when they are interviewed rather than answer a survey on the internet at their pleasure time.
            This project relates to the information and technology section of our class, referring to the proposed topic of how machine is an extension of us, or is it using us. The topic was also inspired by the intersection between three of my classes this semester “Gender and Technology” “Web Design and Development” and “Emergence”. I am hoping to see what an emergent system I will get in the end, combining the responses to the survey and the video I made after interviewing students on campus.
            I realize that the population I tested was not a varying on in age per-se, however, our generation is the driving force of these technologies out there and I thought interviewing them would give me a better input. Moreover, in other studies I hope to get the input of people of older age, and are in the business sections of our community.
            The survey answers to the questions I think were interesting because people had time to think about the questions, and were not pressured by the camera in case of the video. This is another interesting point to bring up, how the internet is a space for each one of us to frame their answers, answer questions more honestly because they are not “watched” by a camera, there is not that physical appearance of someone else watching. This is one of the reasons for why the internet and these social networks are a place for people to feel free to express what the feel, portray themselves the way they would like to and that is, I think why the internet is such an important part of our lives.
The survey questions and answers were:
1.  Do you use social networks?
a.  Yes - 93.9%
b.  No - 2.0%
c.  Sometimes - 4.0%
2.  Which networks do you use/have an account for?
i.  Facebook - 97.0%
ii.Twitter - 32.3%
iii. MySpace - 13.1%
iv.  Tumblr - 30.3%
v.YouTube - 71.7%
vi.  Flicker - 7.1%
vii.  LinkedIn - 22.2%
viii.  WordPress/Blogger/etc. 18.2 %
3.  How often do you check your profile/account ?
a.  Once  day - 16.7 %
b.  More than twice a day - 80.2%
c.  Once a Week - 3.1%
d.  Once a Month 1.0%
e.  Rarely 1.0%
f.   Other (please specify)
a.  There was a tie between Twitter and Facebook where people would spend more time on either these two or one of them but the other websites they would spend less time on them.
4.  Do you think your profile represents who you truly are?
a.  Yes - 50.0%
b.  No - 50.0%
c.  Depends (please specify)
a.  This was my personal favorite question. It’s interesting how we use these websites to selectively portray part of who we are, or rather pretend to be someone we hope to be. One said “ It represents exactly what I wish to project to the rest of the world, but all of it is very carefully constructed.” And another said “ it highlights my best side, so it only shows a part of who I am. It's all a performance (social networks).”
5.  Do you use your real name/real correct information?
a.  Yes- 95.2%
b.  No- 7.2%
c.  Other(Please Specify)
a.  People are sharing but are rather careful of what they put in which is interesting and contrasting to what the general view seems to be. It also made me think about what Chorost proposed of the World Wide Mind and the idea of sharing our minds. From this survey it seems that people might be rather hesitant to do so.
6.  Is your mood affected by your social network profile? Do you care about how many friends/followers you have? Do you care about getting notifications?
a.  The answers for this question were very interesting. It was a tie between the effect of these networks on the mood of people. Some said absolutely not, they’re not attached, while others specified situations more.
i.   Getting a lot of notifications makes them feel good about themselves-
ii.  Getting notifications means attention that people like to get more often, and it’s easier to get through those websites than through real life.
iii. One other interesting answer was “ Nope. I am different from the person online. That’s part of the thrill, having a chance to be an alternate”
iv. “I get discourages when people dont post on my wall or respond to certain posts/statuses”
v.  “Social network is just a way for me to keep in touch, not an ego boost.”
7.  Do you have internet on your phone that you use to check your profile/account on these social networks?
a.  Yes - 38.8%
b.  No - 56.1%
c.  I would like to - 12.2%
8.  Are you aware that companies use social networks to get information about their job applicants?
a.  Yes - 94.3%
b.  No - 5.7%
c.  Other (please specify)
            Specified answers were:
a.  As a result people try to keep privacy settings high and responsible about what pictures and information I put up.
b.  It is invasive
c.  I’m skeptical.

            Working on this paper come has been a process that I enjoyed despite the work of it. It is rather interesting how the internet has grown into our lives in such a short time, and how increasingly important it is becoming. It is almost scary too, in my opinion, how we rely on these technologies so much, that what if we loose them all of a sudden? It is somethings that scares me, but yet, I am part of this revolution we are going through. The video was made to see the reactions of students to the topics and to see how the responses would vary. I kept thinking of Chorost’s proposed idea of World Wide Mind where our minds are connected, sharing our thoughts, emotions, feelings and ideas. Chorost really triggered this topic of how affected we are by our technologies, mainly the internet. Chorost aims to bring about the uses of the internet to help us be connected. From my survey, people seem to be rather opposing of the idea of “too much sharing of information”, however they still do share these various information, not necessarily to the whole world to see, but to their close friends on these networks.

These are students that I have interviewed for my paper and asked questions about social networks.