Apr 12, 2010
The two readings this week offered contrasting views of people’s expression on the Internet. While Smith portrays it in a positive note, Livingstone looks at the negative shallowness associated with younger teenager’s use of the Internet.
Web hit touches a chord with anorexics-D. Smith
This article describes the effect of a latent song that was rejuvenated by YouTube. The song was put to a series of still pictures of an anorexic girl, and it had an incredible impact on many anorexics on the Internet. I enjoyed reading this article because it was different from what we have been reading so far in that it was much less formal and told a story rather than concepts and theories. It was interesting that Smith described that anorexics used the blog for the video as a diary. However, it is understandable that these users would open up because the Internet offers anonymity. This anonymity allows people to state their feelings without a face behind the comment, and therefore avoiding all judgements. Smith describes this site, however, as more powerful than a normal blog, which again I believe is because of the anonymity offered. Overall, I think this article shows a positive view of the support the Internet can provide. The support shown for anorexics reminds me a lot of the House episode we watched in class, where the blogger needed to post and gain approval for the type of surgery she was considering before she made and decisions.
Taking risky opportunities in youthful content creation: teenagers’ use of social networking sites for intimacy privacy and self-expression-S. Livingstone
Livingstone’s essay discusses trends as to why younger teens use the Internet, what they choose to share, and what their privacy settings are. The studies were done in London, which is easy to see. And although the essay was published in 2008, it is clearly outdated when it discusses MySpace as the most popular Web site, along with Facebook and Bebo. Facebook is now the most prevalent social networking site. To be honest, I’ve never even heard of Bebo, so I didn’t understand the references Livingstone made in his article. One thing I found that is still true today is the age difference between MySpace users and Facebook users. I usually see younger users, like middle schoolers, on MySpace, and high schoolers moving to Facebook. This was one aspect of the article I could easily agree with. While I found that Livingstone took a mostly cynical view towards social networking sites, he does concede that they may help with literacy skills, but I disagree with this statement. I find that younger users tend to use more abbreviations when typing online, like lol and sup, which ultimately will hurt the users when they have to start writing papers. Besides this, Livingstone was very negative about younger users on social networking sites, claiming that our generation has no sense of privacy. However, I think this is true for the younger side of our generation, but it is something that they grow out of. While I agree that adults may consider some of what children are doing online to be risky, I think it’s part of the immature behavior exhibited by the users Livingstone interviewed. You can tell the users are immature by the language they use in their interviews, using “like” in almost every quote in between thoughts. The one point I think Livingstone makes is that younger users on social networking sites use these sites for the wrong reasons. They are using them, as Livingstone says, to talk to their local contacts and maintain a certain online social status. The users claim that they only comment on their friends pages if the friend comments first, hoping to be “popular” online. This reflects the age group interviewed, however. In middle school, it was always more important to seem “cool”, and the development of social networking sites is just another place that teenagers need to prove their social status. The users claim the need to keep “constant connections”, but these connections are fake and shallow and add to the personality they want their pages to show. In relation to privacy, Livingstone makes it clear that the teens he interviewed did not know how to change the privacy settings on social networking sites. However, I’ve been using Facebook since my freshman year in high school, and I have no idea how to work the privacy settings. It’s not something that requires daily attention, and therefore, users will not be as acclimated with the settings. It’s the kind of thing you sit down one day to figure out and leave it be. Overall, I think Livingstone completely ignored the positive aspects of social networking sites that we have discussed in class.