Monday, September 22, 2014

Facebook: Social connections or simply envious voyeurism

LONDON: Witnessing friends’ vacations, love lives and work successes on Facebook can cause envy and trigger feelings of misery and loneliness, according to German researchers.
A study conducted by two German universities found rampant envy on Facebook, the world’s largest social network that now has over 1 billion users and has produced an unprecedented platform for social comparison.
The researchers found that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most.
“We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry,” researcher Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University told Reuters.
“From our observations some of these people will then leave Facebook or at least reduce their use of the site,” Krasnova said, adding to speculation that Facebook could be reaching saturation point in some markets.
Researchers from Humboldt University and from Darmstadt’s Technical University found vacation photos were the biggest cause of resentment with more than half of envy incidents triggered by holiday snaps on Facebook.
Social interaction was the second most common cause of envy as users could compare how many birthday greetings they received to those of their Facebook friends and how many “likes” or comments were made on photos and postings.
“Passive following triggers invidious emotions, with users mainly envying happiness of others, the way others spend their vacations and socialize,” the researchers said in the report “Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users’ Life Satisfaction?” released Tuesday.
“The spread and ubiquitous presence of envy on Social Networking Sites is shown to undermine users’ life satisfaction,” they said.
They found people aged in their mid-30s were most likely to envy family happiness while women were more likely to envy physical attractiveness.
These feelings of envy were found to prompt some users to boast more about their achievements on the site to portray themselves in a better light.
Men were shown to post more self-promotional content to let people know about their accomplishments while women stressed their good looks and social lives.
The researchers based their findings on two studies involving 600 people with the results to be presented at a conference in Germany in February.
The first study looked at the scale, scope and nature of envy incidents triggered by Facebook and the second at how envy was linked to passive use of Facebook and life satisfaction.
The researchers said the respondents in both studies were German but they expected the findings to hold internationally as envy is a universal feeling and possibly impact Facebook usage.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: 

Voyeurism and Facebook

By: Cassandra Willyard
Several years ago, my mom decided to move from Grand Forks, North Dakota — a city of 50,000 — to Lakota, North Dakota — a town of about 700 people. She had grown up in small towns and had no desire to return to one. But Lakota happened to be the midway point between her job in Grand Forks and my stepfather’s new job in Minnewaukan. So my mom began house hunting.
At one house, the owner was watching television. But the show didn’t look like a regular television program. It seemed almost like a home video. My mom asked the woman what she was watching. She replied, “Oh, that’s the camera down on Main Street.” Lakota, North Dakota, has a video camera planted at one end of Main Street. The footage from that camera ends up on TV, allowing residents to get a real-time, birds-eye view of the town’s tiny business district. No lie.
Why on earth would anyone want to watch what’s happening on Main Street? Because we are natural-born voyeurs. Given the opportunity to peer into others lives, most of us will grab the binoculars rather than closing the shades.
Facebook, like Lakota’s Main Street camera, encourages our voyeuristic tendencies. “People can peruse the profiles of various users, read about other users’ interests, read their friends’ comments on their walls or view their friends. People can even scroll through a user’s photo albums and see all of the pictures that that user has uploaded of themselves and all of the pictures that other users have uploaded with that user in it. Profiles can link to other, sometimes more personal, Web sites about the user. Some profiles link to other photo albums or to online journals,” wrote Brett Bumgarner in a 2007 study. Dozens of my Facebook “friends” are high school classmates I haven’t spoken to since graduation. I friended them to be polite. But that doesn’t explain why I read their status updates and flip through pictures of their kids’ little league games. Facebook has turned me into a busybody. I am the homeowner watching the Main Street camera channel.
Of course, the voyeurs wouldn’t congregate if there weren’t something to see. Bumgarner puts it this way: “Voyeurism wouldn’t be possible without the existence of exhibitionism, or self–disclosure.” Facebook makes sharing incredibly easy. Almost too easy. And too much sharing can backfire. We have all heard stories about people who have been fired for something they posted on Facebook.
The average Facebook user has 130 “friends,” and it seems a safe bet that not all of those “friendships” are close relationships. My Facebook friend group, for example, is an eclectic mix of actual friends, relatives, casual acquaintances, ex-boyfriends, other science writers, Peace Corps buddies, former classmates, and editors. Given the diversity of that group, I have three options when it comes to sharing: 1. Post only G-rated information/photos that I don’t mind sharing with anyone and everyone. 2. Adopt a devil-may-care attitude and share whatever I want without worrying who will see it. 3. Or divide my diverse list into different groups so that I can selectively share.
I mostly practice option one. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg would like to see everyone embrace the second option. “Our mission at Facebook is to help make the world more open and connected,” he wrote in an open letter last year.
Smitha Ballyamanda, a woman I profiled in the June issue of IEEE Spectrum, has chosen the third option. She has grouped her nearly 500 friends according to an elaborate hierarchy. Her frenemies are in a group called Zero Trust along with her traditional older relatives. They have the least access to her profile. Her best friends are in a group called the Inner Circle. They can see anything Ballyamanda posts. The bulk of Ballyamanda’s “friends” reside in a group called The Paparazzi. The group includes people like “my best friend from second grade or someone I met through a friend,” Ballyamanda told me. The Paparazzi can see more than Zero Trust, but far less than the Inner Circle. “They’re looking at [my page] just for entertainment purposes,” she said. Ballyamanda devised this system after a stalker hacked into her email and Facebook accounts and hijacked them. The incident left her exceedingly wary, but she didn’t want to forgo Facebook altogether. So she came up with a way to have her cake and eat it too — sort of.
But how many people would be willing to develop a hierarchy like Ballyamanda’s? Not everyone shares her privacy concerns. When I asked my 22-year-old cousin for her mailing address, she posted it on my Facebook wall, where all my “friends” could see it. I sent her a private message reminding her that she might want to be careful with her personal information. But she didn’t share my concern. “The only people who can see what I write on your wall is you, your friends, me and my friends, so it doesn’t really bother me,” she wrote back. Another college-age cousin has posted dozens of drinking pictures. In some she is visibly drunk. And I recently learned from my news feed that a classmate I haven’t spoken with in years is devastated to find that she can’t have children. Did she mean to tell me that, or did she simply post without thinking?
So it seems Zuckerberg’s wish for more openness may be coming true. But instead of feeling more connected, I feel alarmed. What happens when my beer-chugging cousin starts looking for jobs? Sure, she can take the pictures down—all 500 of them—but Facebook keeps them archived, no doubt. And with Facebook’s new facial recognition software, her name could be forever tied to those wild college nights. Then again, maybe I’m being overly cautious. I can never decide whether I’m being prudent or a prude.

Why Facebook Breeds Voyeurism

by Ari Herzog
Rachel Jonat recently shared why she quit Facebook, extracting in part:
I want more from my friends than status updates. I want to give my friends more than status updates. If this person isn’t significant enough in my life for a birthday phone call or visit or even a personal email, why do I want to stay on top of where they are vacationing and that they got a new puppy. I’d rather give up the 189 Facebook friends, the majority of whom I don’t have or want the phone number of, and focus on the people near and dear to me.
Emailing Rachel and seeking information she didn’t share in that guest article on Courtney Carver’s blog, I wanted to know more details why she quit Facebook, a phenomenon Jorgen Sundberg attributes to early adopters losing faithin the social networking site’s multiple changes over the years and finding increased value networking on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Rachel replied that she joined Facebook in 2006 as a convert from MySpace. She spent several hours a day on the site, reading updates from so-called friends and sharing her own updates. She was wasting time and she knew it. She had enough. Admitting Facebook is great for establishing connections between friends and family, Rachel also observed herself using the website “as a crutch to be a bad friend,” elaborating:
Because I saw status updates and pictures of friends I felt like I had connected with them. I hadn’t. Instead of calling people or seeing people I just watched them on Facebook. That’s not a friendship; that’s voyeurism.
Stephen Chukumba identifies with her belief, for he wrote last year that he considers Facebook a medium for three types of people:
1. people who write updates and share information
2. people who don’t write anything or share infrequently
3. people who watch everyone else Facebooking
Focusing on the third typology, the voyeur, he expands:
So that girl that couldn’t stand you in college because she thought that you thought that you were all that, now knows that you’re no longer as cute as you used to be (cause she’s trolled pictures of you in Facebook) and silently rejoices – and then tries to friend you (cause she’s hot now – and wants you to know it). Even if she never actually tries to friend you, she can sit, eating Bon Bons, taking pleasure in every ‘It’s complicated’ post you publish, relishing personal trials and travails.
What’s so disturbing about it, is that you’ll never know your whole life is under the scrutiny of crazies. Most people probably don’t put that much thought into what they post or publish, because they feel like it’s among friends.
But in this age of reality TV, TMZ and YouTube, every personal gaffe is potentially fodder for the masses.
Rachel didn’t want the masses to know her every move but moreover she didn’t care to know theirs. She wrote me that she deliberated for a week and posted a status update on her Facebook wall with her phone number and email address, and left that update there for three days. She told her friends she wanted to see them more in person than online.
Maybe you can identify with Rachel’s feelings. I can.
And now, in the weeks since she quit?
Life is still being lived even though I’m not on Facebook. I’m seeing people in person more, the people that I actually had phone numbers for – not the Facebook friends that I hadn’t seen in five years and wouldn’t think to invite over for dinner. I’m using Skype to see and talk to friends out of town and writing some long overdue emails. It feels good.
If inspired to learn more about Rachel, she writes a blog about minimalism and tweets as @RachelJonat.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Facebook Trap

One of my young friend disappeared from facebook...
Oh well, I wonder what was going on as I always liked to watch his photographs: he travels a lot and loves to take picture in all those countries he visits. So I called him and asked him what happen to his facebook account?

He terminated it! As he felt becoming totally addicted to it, he decided that he was better for him to stop it completely. He explained to me that he was feeling like an alcoholic feels with alcohol, he could not control his desire to watch and read more and more, his FB friends were posting more and more every days and he realized the amount of time he was spending hooked on his computer or even on his smartphone. He realized that life was not, at least for him, reading and watching what other people were doing as they were doing it and that he wanted to take more time to actually live his own life in the real world instead of following their life via the virtual one.

I found his experience interesting and listen to other people experience with Facebook. Why do they get hooked or why do they escape the addiction?

Let's face it, many facebooker are hooked on their smartphone enjoying sharing many moments of their day, including what they just ate or cooked or how beautiful the sunset is tonight. Many are posting pictures of their children so their friends and family can share the joy of seeing the little ones growing up, and this is true, we are sincerely enjoying those.

There are also those who are networking, speaking about themselves and their work, showing off how "good" they are doing or which "new friend" they made, what great party they just attended...

And in the teenage world, those posts can get nasty, teenager tend to use social network to gossip and in so, hurting the feeling of their target... oh well, we all read about cyber-bullying isn't it?

Adult are bullying and gossiping too but in a different way. First they accept anyone who want to be friend with them, even those they do not appreciate in real life and those they do not even know, for them what is important is to have a lot of "friends". Then, they start to post information that seems totally casual but are hurtful for certain. It could be the office's party where one coworker was not aware of (not invited), it could be the get away week-end of a few girlfriends while one of them was totally left out, it could be a mom posting the picture of a birthday's party or a sleep-over where one of her kid's friend was not invited, or the picture of a friend's husband in a pretty good company (not his wife for sure)... In all those post, only the target understand and get hurt, and those type of behavior are encouraged by some TV shows or movies, like "Revenge" on ABC feeds on gossip and bullying, manipulation and destruction.

Another temptation of Facebook: Voyeurism! This one can become addictive too. Exactly like the neighbor buying a telescope to spy on people around him, or like those old people in small villages in Europe who sit most of the day on the bench in the center square to see what is happening and what others are doing. The same way, some facebooker just want to know what their "friends" are doing, they want to be informed at all time even if none of those of their information are of their concern.

So I told my young friend that as much as I miss seeing his beautiful pictures, I totally understood his choice. Personally I did open a facebook page because one of my friend refused to post picture of her son anywhere else :-) She is a really close friend of mine and I really enjoy seeing her little one growing up. It actually happens that another on of my close friend do exactly like her and here again I do enjoy seeing pictures of her 4 girls so my facebook account is useful.  But I do not have much friend on it, only a few who, like those two, are mostly using it to give news from time to time.

I would not want to let Facebook or any other social network pollute my life or the one of my children. We already have so little free time to enjoy, I would not like to see them wasted it in the virtual world.