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I watched the lecture by Michael Wesch from the Library of Congress in 2008. The lecture was an anthropological introduction to YouTube. Wesch talked about YouTube being a community, people can interact with each other. And you can feel like you know them. In the famous case of lonelygirl15 a vlogger, who talked about her life. Thousands watched her videos and felt like they knew her and enjoyed the content she uploaded. After three months it was revealed that this was a fictional character created by the creators of EQAL. It continued for a further two years. But after the announcement there was a backlash because people couldn’t understand why someone would be “fake”. This today is almost laughable because it is fairly common for something to be fake or acted. For instance the “Worst Twerk Fail EVER” turned out to be acted.

But this idea as the internet as a community bothers me. In his talk Wesch says “I think of media as mediating human relationships”. I don’t understand this. I can’t understand how you can bond with someone without truly understanding how they feel. In many cases some people haven’t met. How can you say you like someone when you have never met them? I have heard my friends say that they love someone who has an online presence. How can you? It isn’t them. They are more than likely acting or having a persona? (Like I mention in my first post about my thoughts, I believe we like to create a person online, you’re not going to say much if any of the bad stuff in your life because it shows you in a bad light, no one needs to know who you truly are online). Fair enough you might like the online presence but I am sure you would be disappointed if you met them in real life. Although the likelihood of you meeting is low I just don’t like the idea of someone lying. I’ve even had a couple of friends who have dated someone online in a different country. And there are similar instances that have been reported on.

The thing that makes me more confused is when people say that being online is social. I can understand why it is because you’re talking to someone but I would much rather be physically with someone because I like understanding what a person thinks and feels and I can gain a more understanding with body language and tone of voice. Quite often I have misunderstood what someone has said to me through a text or message because I can’t gage the tone. Only when I truly know a person do I have some confidence in understanding the tone of a text. This is someone psychologists pick up on Tom Tyler says that “the ease of online communication may lead to weaker social ties” because you don’t have to go outside and physically do anything with anyone.

And it is thought that those have “higher quality” forms of interaction like face-to-face tend to have a better overall emotional well-being. In one study a group of twenty volunteers, who claimed to be either addicted to Facebook or Twitter didn’t use the sites for a month. Some had quite surprising results, and worrying, that one woman said it allowed her to spend time with her daughter, another said they did more housework, which in a way I thought was sad. This is one of the reasons I don’t believe social media is social because if you find yourself having more human contact because you have removed yourself from social media it’s really worrying, which is why I believe we might see an increase in ADD in children. However, some participants felt increased feeling of loneliness because using social media was a way to talk to those it would be harder to talk to friends and family. And facebook was the way they organized meeting up with friends, which is something I can sympathise with because facebook’s messaging system allows a messaging multiple people at the same time so I can arrange a meet up with friends without having to be the go-between.

However, I do feel like people shouldn’t forget the benefits of physically meeting up with someone as I think it’s more beneficial.

Bibliography:

The quote from Tom Tyler – page five.

Facebook and Twitter study of people who stopped using the sites

All other articles, websites and videos that I have used have been linked into this post.

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