The Perils of “Slacktivism”
‘Many of us have fallen victim to it: changing our profile picture to those white equals signs atop a red background because someone said that it meant you support marriage equality, sharing the now-infamous #Kony2012 video that no one ever watched in full, or reposting the Huffington Post article only because the title was too witty and relevant not to.
‘From warring perspectives on the conflict in Gaza to the now strangely dated hashtag #bringbackourgirls, the viral social issue of the hour floods Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with content that looks, on the outside, like deeply felt social activism. But for all the pathos running rampant over news feeds and blogging sites, there is little depth to speak of, and virtually no change afoot in the real world. “Slacktivism” online is exactly as deep as the paper-thin knowledge…
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A few months ago, Bonnie Tsui wrote a piece over at Pacific Standarad on Facebook’s Compassion Research Day.
According to Tsui, the social media giant has brought together social scientists from across the Ivy League to help it better understand how people interact online.
Specifically, Facebook was concerned about anti-social social networking behaviour. How can users better communicate their dissatisfaction with unflattering pictures? How can we help teens cope with bullying?
On one level this is all great: Facebook fine tunes its tools so that users are better able to voice their concerns. However, I notice that the newly developed solutions usually involve deeper investment in Facebook: sending messages to other users, opening up conversations with other user.
“The changes have more than tripled the rate at which people send a message directly to another user asking for a photo to be removed. And of those requests, 85 percent of the…
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‘Software is eating the world!’ US tech luminary Marc Andreessen declared in 2009, on the eve of launching his venture capital firm, Andreessen-Horowitz. This extraordinary claim has become the mantra of Silicon Valley startup entrepreneurs, codifying a new philosophy of tech entrepreneurialism and kickstarting a bold new era of ‘creative destruction’. Decoded it means: software engineers are world-builders – so look out! Bored with building apps, games, and websites, the latest generation of tech entrepreneurs are creating social operating systems for the societies and economies of the future. Take the sharing economy startup Airbnb, for example (recipent of $112 million in funding from Andreessen-Horowitz in 2011). Andreessen claims:
Airbnb makes its money in real estate. But … Airbnb … has much more in common with Facebook or Google or Microsoft or Oracle than with any real estate company. … Airbnb is building a software technology that is equivalent in complexity, power, and importance to an operating…
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As my sixth original post on my WordPress I’m going to share an article I read this morning regarding the social (or anti-social) outcomes that come with the frequent and constant use of the smartphone and other mobile gadgets.
I also suggest you to watch this brilliant TED Talk related to the matter:
If on one hand “smart technologies offer the possibility of instantaneous and continuous global communities where knowledge is shared, opinions are contributed, relationships are rekindled, expressions of support are enhanced and social movements are spawned”, on the other hand, regarding recent studies, there are more negative sides or the “smart” coin.
According to a new study released by Virginia Tech (The iPhone Effect: The Quality of In-Person Social Interactions in the Presence of Mobile Devices) – examining how “distracting digital stimuli” undermine the character and depth of our face-to-face interactions” -, your attention is divided socially even if you’re not actively looking at your phone, saying that “the mere presence of a cellphone or smartphone on the table can disengage people during in-person conversations and hinder their empathy”.
The authors of the study argue that “networked technologies let us manage several loyalties – work, family, friends – at once“, but they also have a negative effect, breeding “a persistent state of ‘absent presence’ (…) a technologically mediated world of elsewhere“.
For many, digital distraction involves the “constant urge to seek out information, check for communication and direct their thoughts to other people and worlds,” the authors write. The phone becomes “representative of people’s wider social network and a portal to an immense compendium of information.” (A previous study by two of these researchers found that people checked their phones every three to five minutes, regardless of whether it rang or buzzed.)
The researchers write in the study that “individuals are more likely to miss subtle cues, facial expressions, and changes in the tone of their conversation partner’s voice, and have less eye contact”.
According to post-modern and contemporary studies these new global communities, gadgets and social medias deserve closer and deeper examination, they may even emerge at the cost – or at least some sort of deficit – of face-to-face interpersonal relationships.
Thanks again for reading and for following, I hope you’ve liked it and found it interesting.