Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Post 5: Effects on Interpersonal Relationships

Our in-class discussion today about the invasiveness of technology in everyday life was excellent. For this posting let’s continue this discussion and reflect on the impacts of technology (e.g., cell phones/texting, Facebook, Skype/MSN Messenger, blogs, etc.) on our interpersonal relationships with friends, family and significant others.

As a side note: some students were asking me about Dr. Bugeja’s research and our joint projects so I thought I should post these links:

Bugeja's book site: http://www.interpersonal-divide.org/

Our joint research: http://www.halfnotes.org


Melissa said...
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Melissa said...

When I worked at the radio station I started noticing some interesting things about the integration of home and work responsibilities, as well as a growing lack of phone etiquette.

First - everyone I worked with had a cell phone. Increasingly I noticed a few people in the office would use their cell phone’s to make personal calls during working hours. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but I also noticed that if my co-workers gave their cell number to clients, they would get calls at home after work hours. Now this doesn’t bother some of the folks that make their job number 1 and their families number 2 (as the business of hardcore sales generally does), but it did start to bother one of the folks newer to the sales business. She didn’t expect or want to be called after hours and wasn’t used to working after “work” was done for the day. Although business hours were done, business still had to go on whether she liked it or not.

And then there was a woman I worked with who LOVED working with her clients – moreso even than being with her family – and she gave her cell phone number out so that she could be reached at any hour of the day (or night as sometimes happened). She loved it, appreciated it, and really took advantage of the convenience – she didn’t have to be in the office to make money anymore! Unforunately, this made work tougher on the rest of us, not because she was doing more business, but because her phone would ring at full volume at very inconvenient times like when we were on the phone with big clients, trying to put a tough schedule together, or in our Monday morning meetings. To top it off, she would never be around her phone when it would ring, so it would ring, and ring, and ring, and ring, and ring unrelentingly, and it would usually be the babysitter or one of her children calling to complain or see when she would be home or to ask permission to do something, etc. When she wasn't around to answer it, the kids would call, then call again, then again, until she was around to answer. When she was around to answer it she would use a loud voice, sometimes even arguing with her children, which was just as bad as the loud interrupting ringer. But, hey, she was making big money so it was alright. Right?

This really caused some animosity in the office because it was a never-ending barrage. Her phone kind of became an inside joke and no one really had the guts to tell an intimidating senior salesperson to turn the stupid thing down during work so the rest of us could get something done.

Daniela Dimitrova said...

Keep in mind this reference to Baudrillard when writing your posting:

“We are more and more ‘wired’ to our interfaces. We react to simulations – to the television news rather than the world, to a computer program rather than social interaction, to email rather than vocal communication.” (Murphie & Potts, 2003, Chapter 1, pg. 16)

tammy said...

One of my main concerns with increased internet usage and the various “facebook” type sites, blogs, chat room, etc. is the loss of personal space/privacy as our lives tend to be played out in this virtual atmosphere and people tend to lose site of traditional boundaries on personal space.
This recently hit home when I was talking to another resident in an apartment complex where we were living in Madison, WI. I liked living in the large complex in the relatively large city because I felt that our family was pretty anonymous and we could live our lives, come and go, and no one would really notice. But in talking to this resident, she told me about a book she was writing and gave me a website to look at and read a sample of her writings. When I went to her site, I found that she also had a blog where she kept a diary of the things going on in the apartment complex, presumably for her friends and family overseas to keep up with her family in America. But as I scrolled through her blog, I realized that my children (who often played with her children) were quite often the subject of her blogs. She described their physical features, names and ages. The stories she wrote about them were cute and funny. About how kind my son was to her daughters and about his quirky imitations of Yoda from Star Wars and my daughter’s propensity to run outside in the snow bare-footed and such. At first it was neat to read someone else’s views on our family. But I began to feel slightly invaded and that the memories that I hold precious about my children were somehow cheapened when the whole world was suddenly privy to them.
I’ve written articles and stories about my family and stories and photos of them have been published in local papers and even magazines with national distribution, so its not like I don’t want to share our experiences, but it is scary to me that there are things out there about my family floating around in cyberspace, that I don’t even know about, that complete strangers are reading.
It makes me think about the girl we discussed in class whose ex-boyfriend was able to rally so many people against her and share personal details about their relationship and a comment I’m sure she thought was a private one. I find it very scary that even without a blog, or a myspace account, or anything like that, we can’t escape being the subject of someone else’s with no knowledge. I realize this is a very benign case…but where could it lead in the future?

_ said...

Clearly, the most obvious consequence of being an avid member of Generation Facebook is the loss of "real" friendships. I'm a Teaching Assistant for the Freshman Honors Program, so I interact with 18 and 19 year old students.

We recently had a discussion on facebook, and many people said that it was easier to maintain friendships online. It takes less effort to facebook someone as opposed to keep their friendship in real life.

It was amazing that people equivocated "facebook" with "friendship," though! Real friendship is about interacting with the person in real life - not about interacting with their simulacrum/facebook profile - on facebook!

I told the honors kids to try and facebook a friend that's slipping into facebook-dom and meet up for lunch with them sometime. We'll see how that goes.

_ said...

One thought from the popular online comic XKCD:

And while we're on the topic of phone etiquette, why do you suppose that people are always discussing their personal lives so loudly over the telephone? Some folks have said that we listen in because of curiosity, but aren't some people repulsed by the excessive disclosure?

Seemingly, "Yeah, man, she was so hot..." isn't something the rest of the world needs to hear. Is there a problem with people parking more and more of their personal lives in plain view?

Xiaomin Qian said...

Internet is now widely spreading in China. I want to talk about its influence to teenagers. Some of them wallow in the virtual society and spend lots of time playing online games. I often read this kind of news in newspapers. A thirteen years old boy dead after continuously playing online game for 48 hours. Several boys stole, even robbed money in order to pay accessing fee to online games. Some middle school students were found playing truant because they prefering to play games. Online games can also cause psychological problems. They convey too many violent or sexual images. They may misguide players especially teenager players(they don't consider things maturely like adults). In fact, some teenagers may have an apathy to the real world. One of my neighbors' son wore a pair of glass because of long time sitting in front of the screen. He acted no interest in study, social activities and affiliating with the same year friends or classmates. However, in a online game, he was the king of a kingdom and played important role in that virtual society.

Online games also bring a whole new job. When I worked in the newspaper, I interviewed a man. He opened an internet bar which offers a place for people to check email, chat on BBS, play online games(actually, the latter one is the major activity people doing in the bar). He told me he employed about ten people to play games for him. These people worked eight hours a day and they shifted day and night. I was astonished what these employees can bring to their boss. That man explained that equipments in the online games can be trade in the virtual world and the money they got from the virtual world can be transfered to real money in the real world. I asked him how much he can earn. He didn't want to disclose but he said the amount is far enough to support he opening a second internet bar with more than twenty computers. I don't know it is good or not. But I know online game manufacturers did make great profits. Lots of advertisements were launched to promote their products. 2004-2005, Chen Tianqiao was ranked the most rich people in China main land. He is the CEO of Shanda, a company producing online games. Now, online game producing is looked as an industry in China. But the related laws haven't been set up. This is a big problem.

titun said...

Technology!!! Of what a beautiful obsession. Technology has always been an important part of life since industrial revolution. I have to confess we have been slaves of technology in today’s hi-tech world, and he who is not tech savvy will find themselves not only ignorant from their other tech savvy counterparts, they will be outcaste in the emerging years.
Amidst all these technological advancements and the world becoming a melting pot, there are quite a number of veiled threats that are looming over us. Today’s younger generation as much as they love to use the newest gadget they are some way or other are abusing it.
What concerns me the most with technology is how we are on such public life? We post our personal pictures on web, store them on different sites, and who ever wishes, can actually Goggle to find our home, telephone number, credit card information, our history and even directions to our house , all with just a click of mouse. It’s becoming a heaven for hackers, and cyber-terrorist to harm people, from cleaning out someone bank account, to crashing a plane. With the increase in outsourcing, we are having strangers read our credit card information over the phones; make vacation bookings for us, possibly preparing an identity theft as all our personal info is floating in cyber space.

What mainly concerns me is how the younger kids today are so hooked to their cell phones and other communication gadgets they are loosing out on their interpersonal relationships that once upon time was looked upon. As much I like to keep my self up beat with what going on around the world now, we are loosing our personal space and of course our peace of mind on technology.
But I also have to admit science and technology help saves lives in the medical field, they have connected the world making it is a smaller place. Our economy relay in computers, cash registers, banks, the stock market. This is where things that people in the past could not even dream about. Again I believe it’s a trade off, just like many things in life.

Erin O'Gara said...

I thought that Xiaomin brought up a really interesting point when she said that although online game production is now considered an industry in China, related laws have yet to be set up. Dr. Bugeja recently published an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that touched on the use of "Second Life" in university classrooms and the lack of laws around such use. He talks specifically about harassment, but it is a really interesting, (and I think creepy) thing to think about.

If any of you are interested in reading the article, here is the link:

Erin O'Gara said...

I know that we have already talked a lot about the use of Facebook, but I really think that the site has completely changed social interaction for people in our age group.

Anyone who has Facebook knows that for at least a while, (I think this fades with most people) it can really become addictive. I would guess that the average Facebook user checks their profile at least twice a day, and will scroll through friends or people that they regularly see to find out new gossip or exciting news. Sadly, I think that many of us have become so disconnected with each other that we actually do keep up with what is going on in each other's lives by reading it online. This can be both a positive and negative thing. I mentioned that I knew of several people who got in fights over pictures posted on Facebook, and one person who realized that a relationship was over, not because she was broken up with, but because she saw that the guy she was seeing got back together with an ex via Facebook. Because things like this are becoming so much more common, we feel like we have to constantly check these online profiles because the changes that people make on them might actually impact our lives. I don't know how many times a day a friend will reference something they saw on Facebook, ("well, her profile says...", or "so, I saw that ____ wrote on your wall", and as we mentioned in class, things aren't really official unless they are on Facebook, (relationships, etc.).

I feel like we are allowing this internet site, (not something with an actual "place" and not another person) play way too large of a role in dictating our behavior in every day life.

Etse Sikanku said...

Titun raises an interesting point about how innovations like 'Google earth' has become the hacker's, online predators or online terrorists' dream tool. I have been wondering if there isn't any form of regulation in the midst of all these invasions.

Since any industry has its own rules and regulations or code of conduct regarding their operation i believe there should be some form of protocol or regulations for the internet or online industry. This may go a long way to keep in check people like Tammy’s neighbors who virtually spilled their entire life online through their blogs.

Etse Sikanku said...

I've used the yahoo instant messenger to stay in touch with family and friends worldwide. It has been very helpful because it costs nothing to use, the amount of time one spends there can be regulated and it is an easy way to keep in touch. Even though a bit distractive, when used very well the instant messenger has helped to cut down on calling card costs. My experience with this kind of technology is therefore not entirely negative. There are several useful features and one can send pictures or use the webcam.

However there are days when i tend to spend too much time on the messenger and that is not good. Like we discussed in class, new forms of technological communication may have their downsides- but just like most things- individual regulation/behavior plays an important role if we want make the best of any type of technology. Blaming any particular type of technology may thus look like the fashionable thing to do. However it appears we only do this to mask our own over indulgence with these tools in a way that becomes unfavorable to us. Surely, we have to accept some culpability. The question then will be how much of blame should we take? Is the use of every kind of technology invasive or do we make it so?

Scott Schrage -- Program Assistant said...

As I mentioned during class, a personal effect of the influx of new social communication technologies -- whether Facebook, cell phone texting, or others -- is that I sometimes feel as though it is easier for me to express certain issues in writing rather than through face-to-face, interpersonal interaction. This is especially true regarding interactions that I perceive to be problematic and/or awkward; while I can never see myself utilizing these technologies to avoid truly important interactions, I have substituted them in far more situations than I'd like to admit.

At the same time, I feel an obligation to respond to messages sent via electronic communication, an issue confronted by Dr. Bugeja. Perhaps this is because many (if not most) of the messages I and others send via these means are relatively short, leading us to believe that we should make the seemingly small sacrifice to get back to our friends quickly. The problem with this, of course, is that such behavior is addictive; if we were to respond just once or twice per day, it truly would be a small sacrifice. Yet I -- and, I suspect, many others -- feel the urge to respond each and every time I receive even an innocuous message, which leads to greater investment than I initially planned and/or can afford.

tammy said...

I think Xiaomin has some interesting points with the video games. I can only hope that it is a passing phase for most young people and that most are not so severely affected and can move on with life as they mature. I know there was a lot of hype a few years ago about the effects of certain types of music on kids. But it does seem like most people grow out of it and as adults, music lyrics are no longer so central in defining behavior and thought patterns.

Scott Schrage -- Program Assistant said...
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Scott Schrage -- Program Assistant said...

In regards to the issue of public displays of communication (PDC's), I'm with the rest of the class: It's getting absurd. It is not simply technology itself that has made voyeurs of us all; it is the way in which some utilize this technology, without thought as to how this will affect those around them. Distraction is among the most obvious of effects on the unintended "audience," yet there seem to be others. In fact, I would point to the proliferation of PDC's as warping our very sense of the public and private spheres (and what belongs in each), diminishing our belief in the true existence of the latter, and blurring our understanding of true social interaction. If the spaces normally reserved for interpersonal communication now serve as stages for mediated communication, where does that leave those who wish to sustain the more traditional view of communal interaction?

Scientists tell us not watch television, study or perform other engaging activities while in bed, as this skews our brains' perceptions of its function -- thus making it more difficult for us to fall asleep in the setting for which it was intended. In the same way, overuse of mediated communication in the public space will inevitably lead us to misconstrue (even if only subconsciously) the purposes for which it was established as a societal constant: not as a forum for others to watch us interact with those they cannot see or hear, but as a forum for us to interact with those in our close proximity. If this notion disappears, so may the popularity of public interaction as we currently know -- or very recently knew -- it.

Eva said...
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Eva said...

First and foremost, is the technology like Internet a medium or media? I consider it as a medium which developed various uses which have been created by kinds of people with different purposes. For example, when the 'voices' have been put in the Internet, the impact may be unexpected for it would be enlarged through widespread communication. That helps us to hear from the minorities. And things like on-line games as Xiaomin mentioned bring great negative impact on people especially our young generation. They are produced for economic purpose. The more people indulged in them, the more profit they purveyors made. Anyway, no matter good or bad, we are aware of the mighty power of technology.

The developing technology shorten the long distance, but alienate the intimate relationships. My parents complained about the Internet to me before, because I spent more time with it and less time with them. In my dorm during my undergraduate year, my roommate and I faced the computer longer than faced with each other. We went to classes, had meals and had many great time together. It seems that there is nothing or less be affected in our relationship, but we seldom visit other rooms, though they are just close to our room! We would talk to them in MSN. That's much more convenient, but like some business form or announcement, not heart to heart as friends. When I came here, something changed. My parents keep connection with me through web-cam and msn. With visual and audible image, it makes me feel like I am just sitting in front of them though it is a hard time when say goodbye and return to the reality. It is both virtual and real. And it do make me feel close to them in such far away. Before, my space is a secret, and I treated it as a private web-diary which didn't open to others. Now, I opened it to my friends and my family, while I will write my secret back into my diary book in hand. My space turns into some kind of communication area, which people know my recent situation from my blog, and I get piles of greeting and encouragement from their responds. When we live so far away there is between us, there is obstruct in our interpersonal relationships, and the Internet helps. When there is not any obstruct therein, the Internet block off. Isn't it 'interesting'?

Eva said...

Since our time is limited, when we share much more time with the Internet, we share less with people around us. We know much more friends, even international friends from the facebook, but we know less with people we meet each day. We have much more understanding of the world, but ess acquainted of normal things happened in our daily life.

But at least, we take attention to this problem, we concern about our interpersonal relationships, and we hope there are some way to change it and better it. That's a good begninning for us to improve our recent communicated circumstance.

Eva said...

Sorry for publish my comment few minutes later after 12. Because I always write them in word firstly to reduce my mistakes and take no attention of the time. Next time I will hand it earlier. Never leave it on Sunday night, push it days before Sun.:-) , ^-^

_ said...

$100 Laptop makes it into the news again...

Melissa said...

I LOVE Scott's second post! It's right on the the money! (Sorry for the late post, I've been sick and in bed with no technology around me!)

It is very true that we're losing our forum for personal interaction with those in close proximity. Before, and still, we have public forums to discuss public issues and concerns. Now everywhere, public or not, is a public forum to discuss private issues -- from cell phones ringing in class to text messaging on the bus, etc.

It brings you down to Earth when you look around and see the majority of folks walking around loudly having one-sided conversations on campus. As soon as class lets out, how many people do you notice pull out their phones and start dialing, texting, checking email, etc.?
And Tammy - I can see what you mean. Yikes! But then again, if the same thing had happened 50 or 75 years ago, would we be so creeped out by it?
I read Dr. Bugeja's article on the Second Life. It outrages me that there are no laws in place regulating sites and experiences like these on the internet. When someone is sexually assaulted in Cyberspace, what makes it any different than in real life?

Dr. Bugeja says, "We have enough trouble dealing with violence, assault, and sexual harassment in the real world..." I read somewhere that there is a difference between the physical act of rape and "perceived" rape. One actually has to have physical evidence to be prosecuted whereas the latter is emotional and isn't necessarily courtworthy. Where does virtual rape fall in the realm of gray laws and definitions? It doesn't. But it should. Another quote from Bugeja, "...female avatars who experience virtual sexual harassment (and even rape) report suffering real-world anger and grief." Shouldn't this be punishable to some degree?

Andrea said...

My main concerns regarding the advancement is also the protection of privacy. I opened a myspace account to access pro-anorexia bloggers for my thesis and found that several people I'd known slightly in college were finding me on the server and inquiring about my life. On individual in particular was an army pen-pal I had briefly as part of a dorm activity. He messaged me asking if this was the Andrea who had gone to such and such college and was living in the Midwest. I couldn't, at first, remember who this person was and was a little freaked out by how he'd been able to find me on such a large database and discover that I was living in the Midwest.

It was a quick lesson in privacy settings online, and I soon after took off all personal information about myself, including what part of the country I lived in. It's not that I'm paranoid (or maybe I am), but if that individual cound find out where I was living so easily, who's to say everyone else can't too.

I've noticed many of these online social networks are stressing privacy more and more due to inappropriate use of the network by users. It's too bad that the innovation has to be tarnished, but it seems the very nature of the program is to find out about people's lives. Maybe it's turning us all into voyeuristic weirdos, and I'm not sure how we'd go about reversing that.

But, there is the argument that people make the choice to self-divulge, and it is their decision to do so. Maybe people like me should think twice before deciding to open those types of accounts if they're likely to be uncomfortable with people searching for them and their personal information.

Andrea said...

I agree with Eva's comments on computers and dorm rooms. I think I was one of the student's as well when I was an undergrad. My roomate and I didn't get along well, and resorting to the computer was my only option to keep busy when in the room. But I think that habit stuck with me, as I noted in past posts, even today.

I've always wondered if my undergraduate universtiy has ever really considered if their idea of giving a laptop to each student is really such a great idea. I mean, it makes them look good compared to other universities because they appear to be technologically advanced and are holding up their title of the first wireless university, but they are probably also doing a big disservice to their students by making them dependent on the little boxes for four years straight.

Melissa said...

I cannot agree more with Eva and Andrea! My first University - before my ISU time - gave us all laptops (maybe it's the same - they also boasted the first totally wireless campus). I can't tell you how much these laptops promoted antisocial tendencies! It was awful - and being a shy person (when I started college) I NEEDED to get out and meet people instead of downloading music from Napster and chatting on MSN, Yahoo, AIM, and ICQ. I didn't know what else to do - I didn't have many friends to get me out of my room and I feel I was almost forced into a virtual world because I didn't fit with the real one.

I became apathetic toward classes, people, and my floormates and ended up being so out of place on my campus and in class that I scored very low on most of my finals and didn't even go to some because it honestly wouldn't have mattered.

Fortunately, I came to ISU after my first year of college. We didn't get a laptop for every student. We were encouraged to participate in clubs, floor meetings and events, and actually go to the library for group meetings.

It honestly scares me the way things are going. I remember how awful it felt to not have many friends, to be an outsider in reality. I don't want that to happen to anyone...


A side note: As I was waiting a little while ago to go into a classroom, 6 of 8 people were listening to iPods, playing games on iPods or phones, or both. One of the other girls waiting with looked up and we exchanged a mutual knowing 'sigh' and then looked around one more time before she looked back down at her phone.

Daniela Dimitrova said...
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