Email Addiction. Side-effects: Stupidity.

Way back in aught 08 (September 2008), I wrote about the building evidence for Internet addiction. The March 2010 Entrepreneur brings us an article by Joe Robinson  (“Email is Making You Stupid“) which explores several aspects of technological addictions – including the harmful side-effects.

This article suggests that the burgeoning amount of emails, instant messages, tweets, and texts we receive  are becoming a harmful and prohibitive cacophony of hyper-communication. So why can’t people reduce the amount of messages they send (and receive)? Well, they could be addicted (“e-compulsion”). In such instances researchers notice decreased attention spans, increased stress, and decreased productivity (Alarming statistics! Read the article).

The most frightful thing to consider? What if what we’re doing – emailing about – day-to-day really impacts our life in the long-term? Robinson brings to light an argument by Winifred Gallagher, authored of Rapt, that “humans are the sum of what they pay attention to: What we focus on determines our experience, knowledge, amusement, fulfillment. Yet instead of cultivating this resource, she says, we’re squandering it on ‘whatever captures our awareness.’ To truly learn something, and remember it, you have to pay full attention.”

As noted by Robinson, it pays to pay attention to attention.

[Blog] carefully, for you [blog] on my [goods or services?]

Bloggers beware! According to guidelines published by the FTC in October 2009, writing about goods or services – personally or professionally – makes you a target for investigation by the FTC. Your spidey-sense should tingle especially if you have received free goods or services which you then write about – unless you disclaim your “material connection” to the vendor (Disclaimer: I have received these FTC guidelines free over the internet).

Note an example of a blogging “no-no” which the FTC provides:

“Assume…the consumer joins a network marketing program under which she periodically receives various products about which she can write reviews if she wants to do so. If she receives a free bag dog food through this program, her positive reviews would be considered an endorsement under the [new guidelines]” (60).

Happy Birthday: Now Spill All Your Secrets.

What were you doing at midnight on February 4, 2009? Sleeping? Chomping down a late-night snack? Facebooking? If the latter, you were unwittingly celebrating Mark Zuckerberg’s creation on its fifth birthday.


Five years and 150 million users later, Facebook is still the topic of heated debate. What does this construct say about our society? What impact is it having? What social mores is it changing? These questions, and others, will continue to be posed and considered for years to come and, fortunately, Facebook will keep delivering material for speculation. Take, for example, the “25 Random Things” note racing through this social network’s veins like some epidemic virus. The object is to fill out a list of 25 things about yourself, a blend of the private and the personal, and publish it to your friends. They are then supposed to fill out a list about themselves in turn, and pass it on. As John Timpane of the Philadelphia Inquirer observes, after one person sent this note to ten others, and those ten sent the note to ten of their friends, “soon Facebook – a virtual living room where people hang out and tell everyone else what they’re doing and thinking – is awash with personal revelations, admissions, info once kept private.”

Continue reading “Happy Birthday: Now Spill All Your Secrets.”

Reconsidering Your Value (Online)

“On a social network, you’re the product rather than the customer.” That’s a blurb I took from Chris William’s article, “Facebook in Goldmine Potential Deficit,” published at The Register.

Does this describe the relationship between you and your social network(s), as you perceive it? No? Does the idea make you uncomfortable, then? Can you dispute it?

Williams makes a few poignant observations from a humanistic perspective, but those are really background noise to his major assertions: that Web 2.0 might be a bubble about to pop; that we might begin to see select Social Networks go belly-up, because they simply aren’t turning a profit (or in some cases, making any money whatsoever); and that some Social Networks might start charging users for basic services, such as video uploads.

Creating (and Destroying) Realities

At thirteen years of age and living just four-doors apart from each other, Sarah Drew and Megan Meier were your typical girl friends in your typical Missouri town living their typical teenage lives. Megan and Sarah even experienced a typical falling-out, when chats about boys turned into name-calling, bickering and, eventually, silence.

If only that had been the end of their typical friendship. Instead, in the summer of 2006, Sarah’s mother, Lori Drew, got involved. Aged forty-seven at the time, Lori created a MySpace profile for a fictional boy, Josh Evans. She sought out and “friended” Megan Meier online “in an attempt to woo [Megan] and extract information from her to determine if she had been spreading gossip about [her] daughter.” [1] For weeks, Lori Drew, her daughter, and a co-worker fabricated a romantic relationship with Meier until, in October 2006, things got ugly. Attacking Megan’s self-esteem, “Josh Evans” wrote “I don’t want to be friends with you anymore because you’re not nice to your friends.”[2] Shortly after Megan replied, asking what he meant, she realized that “Evans” had publicly posted messages she had written to him, where they could be viewed by all of her friends at school. As a result, these “friends” began posting bulletins making fun of Megan. Continue reading “Creating (and Destroying) Realities”

Mobile (banking+politics+connecing)=?

You may have noticed a good deal of hullabaloo in the press about the advent of Mobile Banking: the new technology enabling consumers to control their financial assets from their mobile phone (texting to transfer funds, schedule a payment, check balances, et cetera).

As exciting as that is, banking is not the only activity people engage in on-the-go. ABI research reports that 46% of those who use social networks have also accessed a social network through their mobile phone (70% of those had visited MySpace  and 67% had visited Facebook). Interestingly, when asked why they had logged in via their mobile, 50% acknowledged checking for comments and messages, while 45% logged in to make status updates – that is, projecting what they were doing or feeling to their online audience. Continue reading “Mobile (banking+politics+connecing)=?”

Social Networking Sites: A Business Pangea?

One-in-five Americans now use one or more Social Networking Sites (SNS), according to a Pew Research Center for the People & the Press report, and many SNS are finding the 35-years-and-older crowd to be their fastest growing demographic, as James Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc observes about Facebook. (While, ironically, more and more teens are becoming more cautious when approaching SNS, with more than 75% holding significant concerns about security on SNS and almost 25% not joining one for security reasons, according to Lee Cheshire). These recent trends paint a rather unlikely portrait of the current state of SNS and, even more unexpectedly, are forcing businesses to grapple with what their policy concerning employees’ use of SNS should be

As Robin Gareiss of Network World observes, SNS such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace present a swath of opportunities and hurdles for employers. Contrary to what you might expect, many companies are taking the issue of SNS head on. Gareiss notes that “about 26% of businesses use [SNS], and another 28% are evaluating or planning to use them” while another “46% of companies [have] no plans” for SNS.

What’s the position of your organization?

Continue reading “Social Networking Sites: A Business Pangea?”

Deep in Cups

The societal effect of social networking sites and Web 2.0 is difficult to fully understand, for obvious reasons. In addition to the burgeoning number of books and essays by scholars and laypersons eager to explain the many nuances of these new developments and their impact, sometimes a short quip can prove more revealing and worthwhile.

Take, for example, this metaphor from Tim Barker of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“Social networks are the bars and nightclubs of the Internet.

Some cater to folks looking for a quiet evening on the town. Others offer a spot to share a quick story and a cold beer after a long day at work. And then there are those places where you can usually count on someone drinking too much and taking off their clothes.”

Very apt.