The “I Want It Now” Generation

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Otherwise known as the “Me Me Me Generation” (Sharma, 2014), the millennial generation strikes many with their attitudes and behaviors.  The first millennials were born in the early 1980s when child abuse and child safety started to become hot topics of discussion.  As a result divorce rates, violence against children, and abortion fell steadily, as parents made sure that their children weren’t going to suffer from a lack of self-esteem or attention. Thus, the millennial generation became what the media often refers to as “narcissistic.” These millennials were raised at the center of attention, as parents put their children in the middle of the family with their parents orbiting around them. Celebrating their every move, it was nothing out of the ordinary for parents to give overwhelming praise for the smallest of accomplishments. They have had every bit of their parent’s support and undivided attention. Every moment of their lives was documented by their very own “momma” and “paparazzis.” They have had their opinions so valued growing up at home that they could not help but to expect the world to see them this way (Hubert, 2014).  This style of parenting has even garnered its own name: “peerenting.” That is, parents today are more peers than parents (The Learning Treehouse).  Simply put, parents started to cater toward their children despite the fact that this was the antithesis of the way their parents raised them.  With all of this adult attention, it is no surprise that this millennial generation has developed a sense of specialness.  And as a result, their actions, thoughts, and behaviors have followed suit.  It is this generation that supports the large revenues of many Silicone Valley businesses that offer people faster ways of doing things, ultimately enabling their need for patience. With a culture switch that effects a person’s life from birth, many scholars have looked into what difference this treatment might make down the line. This generation expects everything they do to be fast, easy, and convenient, as their time is the most valuable resource in their lives. With the backing of both scholarly and non-scholarly sources, I strive to entertain the idea that their impatience for everything they desire has become a necessity rather than a convenience.  In doing so, I will furthermore support the idea that when people are presented with easier, faster and more efficient ways to do things, they will always take that route.

Significant improvements in technology over the last 20 years or so have perhaps made patience unnecessary in the modern world. Think about it, one can make credit card payments, get a taxi, talk to a friend across the world, or even check their mail – all of this online, right from their home, and within the matter of seconds. As technology grows, our behaviors change and adapt to the revolutionized world around us. It seems that people have adopted a need for instant gratification that is guided by modern technology, but they ultimately expect it in all facets of their life.

However, although instant gratification is the result of high-end technology that provides us with a much easier lifestyle, there are some limitations to it. Take for example the longitudinal psychology study done by Dr. Walter Mischel that addressed exactly this. Dr. Mischel first conducted an experiment with preschoolers to see how long they would willingly wait to receive a treat. Specifically, the preschoolers were told that they could receive a treat at that moment, or they could wait 15 minutes to have their treat doubled. The results of this study showed that less than one third of the preschoolers were able to wait to receive a greater reward. The video below replicates a demonstration of the exact study done by Dr. Walter Mischel.

Dr. Mischel studied these same students 20 years later and found that the preschoolers who were patient enough to wait 15 minutes doubling their treat were more intelligent, had higher SAT scores, had more self-control, had better abilities related to concentration, and were less likely to be overweight adults (Discovery). Thus, it appears that delayed gratification contributes to a healthier lifestyle and overall well being. More importantly though, this proves that patience and self-control should be a cherished and practiced value by all. Given the results of Mischel’s study, it is genetically troubling to possess patience, and with a revolutionized world of technological advances, it provides for an environment where patience is even harder for people to conquer.

In addition to the positive effects that Mischel found in his study, scholars such as Jaime Cundy have found a relationship that exists between patience and decreased stress levels – one that directly correlates patience with an overall improved way of life, and impatience with greater stress levels. A psychologist from the University of Pennsylvania, Cundy narrows her focus towards her experience of spending many years living, working, and traveling around the continent of Africa. She noticed something very different there. The people she encountered were not afraid of losing time, and were living much more in the present moment. In her article, The Beauty in the Beast, Cundy discusses her adaptation to the countries of Africa she visited, and how she was ultimately forced to let go of her rigid time schedules. She references in her article that meetings scheduled at a specific time would start at least two hours late. Coming from a fast-paced American society, where people cannot even wait two seconds for a streaming video to load (supported by research later in this post), she came to a fork in the road. She could either adapt to the culture of the African lifestyle or remain frustrated throughout the duration of her stay. She found that when she began to adapt, she was able to better appreciate the time being spent in those present moments. This equipped her with the ability to focus on her given tasks at hand much more than she was able to in America, as she was not anxiously awaiting the next step of life’s many obstacles and challenges. When she returned home, she concluded that the pace of life in America is simply too fast. So fast, she states, that many Americans do not appreciate the present moment, as they are thinking about their next task in life (Cundy, 2012). The rushed pace of the American culture gives its people the feeling that they are constantly behind and will never be on top of all of their work. It is this exact reason why Karen Paullet found in her experimental study that subjects between the age of 30 and 39 have taken work related calls while on vacation.  Even on vacation, a distinguished time for relaxation and living in the present moment, high-paced Americans prove that they simply cannot detach themselves from their busy lives (Paullet, 2010).  But, the novel contribution of Cundy’s article is that it reveals the benefits of slowing down, especially in a fast-paced American society. With the mastering of patience, not only does a person gain the ability to complete his or her tasks more efficiently and effectively, but one can decrease the level of stress in his or her life. Thus, understanding the side affects of the constant pressure of an instant gratification culture is indeed important. It is only when we recognize the fast paced world we live in that we can see how hectic our lives really are.

Another study done by a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Professor Ramesh Sitaraman, examined how long people would wait for a video to load on a computer. The picture below is a graph that displays his findings.

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One of the most significant parts of this graph shows that people displayed impatience only after two seconds. That is, if the video was not completely loaded after two seconds, the participants in the study chose not to wait for the video to load. Furthermore, after one half of a minute almost all of the participants in the study displayed impatience by deciding not to wait for the video to load. Taking the inferences of this study into account, it is very logical to believe that Internet speeds have risen so much that people expect for their wait time to be almost none. Advancements in technology have provided people with these high expectations that ultimately deplete people’s patience. Professor Narayan Janakiraman best puts it, “the need for instant gratification is not new, but our expectation of ‘instant’ has become faster, and as a result, our patience is thinner” (Muther, 2013). This is most synonymous with my aforementioned words that if people are presented with an easier, faster, and more efficient way of doing something, they are always going to take that route.

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And speaking of easier, faster, and more efficient ways of doing things, let’s take a look at the mobile application business that has absolutely skyrocketed over the past five years or so. Specifically, connecting a buyer to a seller, while taking a percentage of that transaction is one of the most exhilarating businesses. Just look at what has been done. Uber for example is on the cusp of replacing the entire taxi business. As a matter of fact, the taxi business has sued Uber for its infringement on their market. When comparing to taxis, it is fact that Uber is cheaper, more efficient, and most of all, its faster. We will examine the experience from the Uber user’s point of view, the driver’s point of view, and from Uber’s point of view. Here’s how it works for the user. One simply downloads the Uber application on his or her iPhone and registers as a customer with Uber with their credit card and personal information. Once this process is completed, the user simply requests a ride when he or she needs one, and boom! Within minutes, a registered Uber driver arrives at your exact location to take you where you need to go. Once you get there, there is no need to fuss around with sliding your credit card, providing a signature, or even waiting for the driver to print out your receipt. Just get out of the car and go. An email from Uber containing the transaction receipt and a brief summary of your trip will arrive in your mailbox shortly after your trip is completed. Thus, it is pretty evident that Uber thrives on providing the fastest and most convenient driving service for their customers. As for the Uber driver, Uber conducts a background check followed by a general registration process for all aspiring candidates. Whenever the driver feels like making a few extra bucks on his own time, he can get in his or her car, open the Uber application, and slide the “on-duty” button. What’s great about the Uber culture for its drivers is that they can work on their own time and make some quality money. But, Uber has to make money too right? After all it is a business. Simply put, they take twenty percent off of every transaction. And when you have an application that posts millions of transactions, that adds up to a lot of money. Not to even mention the valuation of the application itself. Anytime there is access to a multitude of people, the high demand for advertisements will undoubtedly be there, as companies will pay deep pockets for a solid advertisement to large audiences. Although they have not done it yet, Uber holds millions of users around the world, and it seems inevitable that advertisements will soon become part of the Uber culture as well.  The video below captures an interview with Matt Whiffen, Uber’s operations manager, as the conversation fosters deeper analysis of how Uber works and exactly what it is.

So, it appears that the Uber application is a clear-cut, slam-dunk for everyone. A slam-dunk for its users, its drivers, and most of all, Uber itself. And when there is a business plan that is a slam-dunk for everyone, you have a pure gold mine because everyone is “winning.”  And just like Uber, there are thousands of mobile applications that connect buyers and sellers alike.

Another mobile application that is beginning to see lucrative returns is a company by the name of Postmates – a mobile application based delivery service that offers its users the ability to order anything they want from any store they want in a given radius. Its users pay the price of the item bought in addition to the price of the delivery service, which is given to the currier. And just like Uber, Postmates takes a percentage of each transaction posted on their application – precisely nine percent. So, if you are too busy after work to pick up laundry detergent from CVS, or you simply want a chicken and quinoa salad from your favorite local restaurant delivered right to your doorsteps, download the Postmates mobile application to save the day.  The video below displays a walk-through demonstration for a typical Postmates delivery transaction.

As you can see in this example, the cost of buffalo wings was seven dollars.  Yet, the delivery service was a whopping eleven dollars, making the total price of the order eighteen dollars and change.  The fact that people are willing to pay, in some instances, over 60 percent more just to have the convenience of something delivered right to their exact location reveals something deeply significant.  That is, people are willing to pay for things that are faster, easier, and more efficient.  Taking into account that the newly established Postmates is valued at almost 20 million dollars, it is evident that the demand is high for these business models that connect buyers to sellers, and ultimately provide a fulfillment for instant gratification.

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Given the in depth review of how companies like Uber and Postmates work, it is no surprise that many start-ups are attempting to recycle this business model. Its simple, and it’s one of the hottest business models out there – connecting a buyer to a seller, and taking a chunk of that transaction.  John Mullins best describes this approach in his article in the Harvard Business Review, as he states, “some companies’ entire business models consist of connecting buyers and sellers. This strategy can dramatically reduce the need for capital, because the companies have no inventory and the cost of goods sold is extremely low” (Mullins, 2013).  It’s striking how many tech start-ups are finding new, different, and improved ways of ensuring advance access to customer cash.  Instead of focusing on how to get enough capital from investors, companies with this this business approach can narrow down their main focus to test, reshape, create, and refine their business models to produce a better product for their customers.  Furthermore, companies that wait to receive outside funding or capital for their thriving businesses will often be rewarded with higher valuations in the end (Mullins, 2013).

In the completely revolutionized world we live in today, it is undoubtedly recognized that technology has become more of a necessity rather than a convenience.  In Jamie Pinchot’s research experiment, Technology: Convenience or Necessity, he and his colleagues support this statement by testing exactly this.  His study aimed to obtain information from students on technology dependency using a five page, 39 question survey.  One of the most significant findings in his study related to my argument here is that approximately 60 percent of students revealed that they could not spend an entire day without using technology devices.  Jaw dropping, I know.  He further adds in his concluding remarks, “today, cell phones and other mobile devices are not simply used for telephone communications and text messaging.  Many mobile devices can also access the Internet and a variety of applications, making them equivalent to a pocket-sized computer with wireless Internet access” (Pinchot, 2010).  Since the mobile smart phone is something we can carry around with us everywhere we go, Pinchot suggests that it is becoming more than just a phone. Rather, it is a fulfillment device that is becoming a part of how people go about their daily lives and furthermore how we interact with the world we live in. Advancements in technology are indeed changing our world. And when intersecting the inferences from Pinchot’s study with the the words taken from the article in the Harvard Business Review by Mullins, it can be concluded that it is changing because people are willing to pay for the high demand they have for instant gratification.  The services catered towards a convenience is ultimately becoming a necessity in our world, and is, by default, heavily gravitated to by the millennial generation. Through the Internet and mobile applications, it is finally efficient enough to connect objects in the real world to the people that want them. And this is driven by our expectations from our very own mobile devices giving us the idea that we should be able to get anything we want at any time we want. The only difference is that businesses like Uber and Postmates are applying these expectations to the real world we live in. Patience in the modern world provokes huge controversy because on the one hand, eliminating time makes our lives much more efficient in many areas (Pinchot, 2010). However, on the other hand the elimination of time triggers my expectations to be higher in regards to instant gratification. Thus, the real underlying question beneath all of this; is patience in the modern world even necessary anymore?

From a more philosophical standpoint, we can attribute the overall nature of this developing technological economy to the Users as Agents of Technological Change: The Social Construction of the Automobile in the Rural United States by Ronald Kline and Trevor Pinch.  In their work, the two authors use the early automobile industry as a parallel for the current technological industry.  Specifically, they make an example of how the rural society shaped the early car industry in America.  For example, they supported the description of how farm people used their automobiles or modified them for purposes not intended by the original manufacturers. Often times, farmers would use their cars to grind their grain, plow their fields, or carry goods into town. But over time, manufacturers for machinery like tractors or pickup trucks became prevalent, ultimately creating their own niche in the market.  In this regard, the users of the automobile industry helped to reshape and redevelop further extensions of the automobile industry (Kline and Pinch, 1996). Similarly, companies like Postmates and Uber in today’s society have taken the foundations of the internet culture and disrupted the market with their own extensions of this technological industry.

Although much research has been done in this field, we are interested in the real world applications of these findings. We have thus developed a study that aims to explore this new realm of instant gratification. The purpose of this research study is to search for any clues that will help to answer some of the questions related to instant gratification (i.e. why people cannot wait more than two seconds for a video to load). We will recruit 1,200 Harvard College students, as this will represent 20 percent of the student population. Accordingly, we will print out 1,200 surveys, as each subject will be asked to fill one out. Refer to table 1 (located at the end of this post) as a reference for the testing prompt we will use in this study. The surveys were carefully constructed and are intended to capture their innate level of patience in our participants. As you can see in table 1, the survey consists of a series of questions that asks participants to simulate a hypothetical situation that ultimately tests their patience. Essentially, our subjects will be asked to determine how long they would be willing to wait for something. Once gathering the responses of our participants, we will carefully code each response in order to quantify our findings. We propose that the quantification of our subject’s responses is the best way to arrive at the rightful conclusions we hope to get. After quantifying the findings of our surveys, we are curious to see if there will be significant implications that can be extracted. We are especially interested in whether there will be a positive or negative relationship between Harvard College students and the rest of the millennial generation. Thus, we will cross the results of our findings with the information we already know about the millennial generation with regards to instant gratification. We hypothesize that Harvard College students will follow suit with their millennial peers. But, if we are to find a negative correlation in our findings (meaning that Harvard College students have greater patience than their peers), we suggest the need for further research in this field.   Furthermore, if this negative relationship does prove to exist, our study is not constructed in a way that would be able to provide reason for why this relationship exists.  Rather, it serves to simply prove that it does exist.

We are interested in the learning about what factors play into people’s patience. Could there be something biological about impatience or is it truly just a reflector of our environment? Furthermore, if an unwillingness to wait has become more of an American trait as explored in Cundy’s article, we would be interested in how other cultures treat and value time. Would the people in a culture where cell phones or Google remain non-existent be more patient? A future study that effectively approaches these questions will certainly take a step forward, discovering more about how our surrounding cultures and environments influence the way we act. Indeed there are serious implications for why patience is a value that should be cherished and practiced. But, in a world in which there is always a deadline, and a desire to constantly keep leaping into the next stages of life, slowing down is most definitely lost on people. As I observe my millennial peers, it seems that we are becoming anxious to gain years of experience. But, it is in this desire that we lose the appreciation for the present. In a very real way, time is speeding up for millennials, and it is therefore important that we become aware of the ways in which time is slipping away from young people. Since advancements in technology provide for a much faster, easier, and more efficient lifestyle, it is hard to determine ways to condone this technological revolution while still taking into consideration the importance of patience. Thus, this issue presents itself as a serious concern that will most certainly require further investigation, as it will be a definite obstacle of our future.

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References:

“Anything Delivered In One Hour?” Youtube. Youtube, 15 November 2013. Web. 16 December 2014.

“Big Question: Is Technology Killing Our Ability To Practice Patience?” Discovery. Discovery, n.d. Web. 17 October 2014.

Cundy, Jaime. “Impatience and Unhappiness.” The Beauty in The Beast. Psychology Today, 2 Jan. 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.

Hubert, Anne. “The Question of Attention.” Youtube. Youtube, 29 September 2014. Web. 26 November 2014.

“Instant Gratification Screenshot.” 2014. JPG file.

Kaufman, Micha. “How Company Culture Needs to Adapt to the So-Called ‘Me, Me, Me Generation’” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 16 Sept. 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

“Marshmallow Instant Gratification Experiment.” Youtube. Youtube, 28 January 2013. Web. 17 October 2014.

Mullins, John. “Use Customer Cash to Finance Your Start-Up.” Harvard Business Review. N.p., 01 July 2013. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.

Muther, Christopher. “Instant Gratification Is Making Us Perpetually Impatient – The Boston Globe.” The Boston Globe. N.p., 2 February 2013. Web. 16 October 2014.

“Patience Screenshot.” 2014. JPG file. http://www.stacyigel.com/2014/07/entrepreneurship-patience-is-virtue.html

Paullet, Karen. Technology: Convenience or Necessity. N.p., 2012. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.

Pinchot, Jamie. Technology: Convenience or Necessity. N.p., 2012. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.

Sharma, Rakesh. “These Two Problems May Delay Gratification For Instant Gratification Economy Startups.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 11 Aug. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.

“The Boston Globe Screenshot.” 2014. JPG file. http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/style/2013/02/01/the-growing-culture-impatience-where-instant-gratification-makes-crave-more-instant-gratification/q8tWDNGeJB2mm45fQxtTQP/story.html

“The Problem With Peerenting: A Modern Family Dilemma.” The Learning Treehouse. N.p., 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.

“What is Uber?” Youtube. Youtube, 4 February 2014. Web. 19 October 2014.

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Instant Gratification: The Necessity of Patience

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Patience is a virtue, right? This is probably the most cliché phrase regarding patience, but with the major advancements in technology over the last 20 years or so, it seems that not much patience is needed anymore. Think about it, one can make credit card payments, get a taxi, talk to a friend across the world, or even check their mail – all of this online, right from their home, and within the matter of seconds. As technology grows, our behaviors change and adapt to the revolutionized world around us. That is, when people are presented with easier, faster and more efficient ways to do things, they will always take that route. It seems that people have adopted a need for instant gratification that is guided by modern technology, but they ultimately expect it in all facets of their life. In my multimedia project I will investigate this issue and the results of a society that no longer has time to slow down.

Although instant gratification is the result of high-end technology that provides us with a much easier lifestyle, there are some limitations to it. Take for example the longitudinal psychology study done by Dr. Walter Mischel that addressed exactly this. The video below is a replication of the exact study done by Dr. Walter Mischel.

Dr. Mischel studied these same students 20 years later and found that the preschoolers who were patient enough to wait 15 minutes to double their treat were more intelligent, had higher SAT scores, had more self-control, had better abilities related to concentration, and were less likely to be overweight adults (Discovery). So, there is reason to suppose that delayed gratification contributes to a healthier lifestyle and overall well being, but more significantly demands further investigation of the matter.

Take a look at another study done by a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In his study, professor Ramesh Sitaraman examined how long people would wait for a video to load on a computer. The picture below is a graph that displays his findings.

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One of the most significant parts of this graph shows that people displayed impatience only after two seconds. Yes, just two seconds! To clarify any possible misunderstandings by these obscene findings, this means that if the video was not completely loaded after two seconds, the participants in the study simply chose not to wait for the video to load and directed their attention elsewhere. Furthermore, after one half of a minute almost all of the participants in the study displayed impatience by deciding not to wait for the video to load. Internet speeds have risen so much that people expect for their wait time to be almost none. Advancements in technology have provided people with these high expectations that ultimately deplete people’s patience. Professor Narayan Janakiraman best puts it, “the need for instant gratification is not new, but our expectation of ‘instant’ has become faster, and as a result, our patience is thinner” (The Boston Globe, Christopher Muther). This is most synonymous with my aforementioned words that if people are presented with an easier, faster, and more efficient way of doing something, they are always going to take that route.

Although much research has been done in this field, I am interested in the real world applications of these findings. Specifically, I am developing a study that aims to explore this new realm of instant gratification in relation to race and gender. The purpose of my research project is to search for any clues that would help to answer some of the questions related to instant gratification (i.e. why people cannot wait more than two seconds for a video to load). My procedure would entail the surveying of Harvard College students, and these surveys would consist of many hypothetical situations in which the participants (Harvard College students) would determine how long they would be willing to wait for something. One example of a hypothetical situation that would likely be in the survey is the following condition; “You are expecting a very important package in the mail. How long would you be willing to wait for this package to arrive?” After quantifying the findings of the surveys, I am curious to see if there will be significant implications that can be extracted from the results of these surveys. And furthermore, if I am to find a positive relationship between gender in relation to instant gratification, I would then aim to trace these findings back to the biological factors of males and females. That is, I would see if the biological differences in males in females may be able to provide insight on the results of my surveys. The experiment conducted does not appear to cross ethical boundaries, as the survey results will be anonymous and the potential insights of my questioning will be revealed after the survey is completed. I will immediately begin to brainstorm how to recruit the best candidates from the most randomized grouping of people, and also the construction of my survey. I would expect to accomplish this in a week or two. I suspect that the data collection, quantification, and analysis will also take about a week. With regards to the usage of multimedia in my project, I would like to include my own graphs reflecting the data collected in my experiment, as well as the images and videos of related research.

Based on the research that has already been done, there are serious implications for why patience is a value that should be cherished and practiced. However, in a world where technology provides for a much faster, easier, and more efficient lifestyle, it is hard to determine ways to condone this technological revolution, while still taking into consideration the importance and value of patience. This issue presents itself as a serious concern that warrants further investigation, as it will be a definite obstacle of our future. So, I will pursue this avenue in search for the answers to the questions related instant gratification.

Works Cited:

“Big Question: Is Technology Killing Our Ability To Practice Patience?” Discovery. Discovery, n.d. Web. 17 October 2014.

“Marshmallow Instant Gratification Experiment.” Youtube. Youtube, 28 January 2013. Web. 17 October 2014.

Muther, Christopher. “Instant Gratification Is Making Us Perpetually Impatient – The Boston Globe.” The Boston Globe. N.p., 2 February 2013. Web. 16 October 2014.

“Patience Screenshot.” 2014. JPG file. http://www.stacyigel.com/2014/07/entrepreneurship-patience-is-virtue.html

“The Boston Globe Screenshot.” 2014. JPG file. http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/style/2013/02/01/the-growing-culture-impatience-where-instant-gratification-makes-crave-more-instant-gratification/q8tWDNGeJB2mm45fQxtTQP/story.html

Online Privacy?

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In a world where technology provides for an abundance of resources that ultimately make our lives much easier, there are also some setbacks that need to be taken into evaluation. One in particular that seems to be the backbone of controversy in recent news is the death of privacy. It is only due to recent leaks that people have been exposed to the data collection of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. In each of these cases, the aforementioned companies have gained the trust of their users (getting their users to give their intimate information) only to turn around and sell it to the highest advertisement bidder. Is it wrong for companies to sell the information of their users? Furthermore, where do we draw the line between what is private and what we can share? And in that light, is our information our right? In order to best tackle these questions, one must first be aware of how these companies often manipulate our own information to make money.

Just recently, Facebook conducted research to understand the effects that its news feed has on its users. Specifically, the multi-billion dollar company wanted to see the effects of altering a Facebook user’s newsfeed with positive or negative posts. They were curious whether these Facebook users would then post positive or negative words based on what they were primed with. This psychological experiment was targeted towards 700,000 people over the period of one week (Atlantic, Robinson Meyer). When news of this experiment hit the media, the company received major backlash, as many were in awe about what they had done. People were concerned because it seemed to reflect a lack of understanding of the current public feeling of sensitivity online. In other words, people became suspicious of the fact that Facebook is either oblivious to cyber negativity or they simply do not care about its effects. With the current implementation of many campaigns that are trying to make online interaction positive (i.e. anti bullying campaigns), it is very disappointingly stimulating to see such a negative setback during a positive movement. Below is a video that shows how negativity in the online sphere can severely impact a person’s real life.

So, for Facebook to purposely create a negative online experience for a user makes the company appear to be lacking a sensitivity chip. However, the emotional implications of this invasion of privacy are just one of the factors that are put into play by Facebook’s actions. In addition, people are also forced to question their ownership of information online. What truly belongs to a person? Is any information still sacred?

In the picture diagram shown below, one can see the complex nature of how online advertising works. This graphic shows how much money is to be made by having ownership of people’s actions/information online.

what-is-google-adwords

This graphic allows a viewer to see how much money companies like Facebook can make, but at what cost? Many would say it is at a cost that is as high as our basic human rights.

Specifically, notorious government whistleblower has been speaking out against various websites that violate users privacy. He emphasizes the importance of protecting your privacy, “When you say, ‘I have nothing to hide,’ you’re saying, ‘I don’t care about this right.’ You’re saying, ‘I don’t have this right, because I’ve got to the point where I have to justify it.’ The way rights work is, the government has to justify its intrusion into your rights – you don’t have to justify why you need freedom of speech.” (RT News) This quotation is the reason why privacy has become such a controversial issue. Because even though we might think our likes and dislikes on websites like Facebook or Google are irrelevant, they reflect a larger issue – ownership of our ideas. But between all of the scandals and unusual experiments, this concept tends to get lost. We are not fighting over advertisement costs and Facebook’s searches. Rather, the bigger theme we are fighting over is the right to choose and determine what we care about. At the present state, the online world has taken over how we use the Internet and what we find ourselves interested in. As Edward Snowden points out, we must take this right as seriously as any other because if we don’t then we will loose it (RT News). If the big companies like Facebook/Google/Twitter etc. were to have their way, then we would become mindless in our online interaction. But when we are engaged in online activity and take ownership in what our interests are, the online world is our oyster to explore.

Discussion Questions:

1) America is a capitalistic country, and within its system are many gray areas that intersect the legalities and the moral stances that companies like Facebook/Google/Twitter etc. choose to take.  In that sense, although these companies are technically doing legal work, is it immoral?  Furthermore, is our privacy on the internet our right as citizens?

2) Is it wrong/immoral for companies like Facebook/Google/Twitter etc. to sell the information that their users openly give them?  Additionally, where is the line drawn between what is private and what is open to the public?

3) Since many companies like Facebook are making ridiculous amounts of money from our information, should we be compensated for this?  If so, how would this idea be approached?

Works Cited:

“Facebook Is Watching You Screenshot.” 2014. JPG file. http://www.taringa.net/comunidades/conspiranoicos-t/1777638/Is-Watching-You-NEO-Conspiracion-Positiva.html

“‘Hostile to Privacy’: Snowden Urges Internet Users to Get Rid of Dropbox.” – RT News. N.p., 12 Sept. 2014. Web. 9 Oct. 2014.

“How Does The AdWords Work? Screenshot.” 2014. JPG file. http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2011/11/16/how-adwords-works

Meyer, Robinson. “Everything We Know About Facebook’s Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 28 June 2014. Web. 9 Oct. 2014.

“What’s on your mind?.” Youtube. Youtube, 2 June 2014. Web. 9 Oct. 2014.

Computers; The Transition Into An Online World

I have been using computers for almost as long as I can remember. From the day I stepped foot in elementary school, I can recall the integration of computers into my education. My earliest recollection of what was called “computer class” that I can remember was in 2nd grade, which made me about seven or eight years old. I explicitly remember walking to “computer class” every other day or so. In this class we would engage with all aspects of a computer, but one in particular that was probably the most common practice was using the application called Microsoft Word. This is when I really started to become familiar with the computer keyboard. In preparation for our weekly spelling tests, we would have to type out each of the 20 words that we were being tested on three times.  Then, when I hit about 5th grade, which made me around the age of 11, my classmates and I were introduced to an actual “typing class.” In this class, we were taught how to properly use a keyboard. Instead of “pecking and hunting” for each letter, we were taught the proper way of typing. One of the most common tools we used in class was an orange rubber cover that our teacher referred to as “keyboard skins.”  These skins served the purpose of covering up all of the buttons on the keyboard so that we would be forced to memorize the letter placement on the keyboard.

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An exact replica of a “keyboard skin” that my classmates and I used in 5th grade

Elementary school was the first place I was exposed to computers, but I would say that I really became attracted to them when my parents bought my brother and I our very own computers as a Christmas present. I was probably around the age of nine years old during this time. I remember being glued to the computer playing games with my brother for hours on end. Playing video games such as The Sims and Need for Speed were two of my all time favorites. Computer games were the modern day video games such as X-Box and Play Station, and we all know how much young adolescents love video games these days.

Although this video is a more modern example, it is similar to the version I played as a young boy.

As I matriculated into middle school though, I began to use the computer and its online resources as a social outlet or escape. AOL instant messenger, otherwise known as AIM, was a big hitter in my middle school days. Since middle school is typically a time when adolescents become interested in the opposite sex, AIM was used as a tool to help young people connect with each other in a different way. Often times during the early adolescent stages, young males and females are shy to express some of their true feelings. But with the invention and usage of AIM one could hide behind a computer screen and take the possible rejection process a little bit easier than in person or over the telephone. Thus, everyone had a screen name and my classmates and I would chat on the computer almost every evening after school. It was a way to keep up with gossip too, as it would often be the topics at the lunch tables the next day – “Did you hear that ‘blank’ really has a crush on ‘blank?’” I did not have texting during my middle school years, but I would venture to compare AIM to modern-day texting for young people. However, the only difference between the two is that when using AIM each person had to be “online,” otherwise the message would not go through.

AIM was definitely my first online social resource, but it was sure not my last. I eventually got a MySpace when I was in 7th grade, and then a Facebook during my sophomore year in high school. Although one could argue that there are many differences between these two social networks, they are really alike in many ways, and were used for many of the same reasons.  I eventually fully moved over to Facebook and deleted my MySpace as there was no need for it anymore. Facebook dominated social networking during my high school years, and I have definitely used it for many of the same reasons that other people used it for.

Today though, I am pretty absent from Facebook compared to most people. I still have an account because it can be used as a good tool to keep up with people (such as old friends) and things that are happening around us in the world. However, I refrain from posting pretty much anything on it.  Typically the only updates my Facebook profile receives is if someone tags me in a picture. I use Facebook as a hobby to keep up with the world around me, kind of like reading the newspaper, but I am by no means obsessed with it like many other people.  In addition to Facebook, I have downloaded Twitter during my college years, but deleted it within that same year. I generally refrain from using any other social media networks simply because I find it very exposing of my privacy. I like to have my privacy and I want to keep it that way. Downloading every new social media app definitely does not help me achieve these wishes.

This video elaborates on some of the reasons behind my concerns regarding privacy in the digital world.

One last thing that I think is worth mentioning is that during this entire computer/internet endeavor, I think I have taken for granted that I did not have a language barrier at any point in this process.  After reading some of the digital autobiographies from the students in Denmark, many of them cannot say the same, and for that I am very grateful, as my experience with the digital world could have been much harder.

Works Cited:

“Facebook Privacy Concerns.” Youtube. Youtube, 27 September 2011. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.

“SimCity 5 Official Announcement Trailer.” Youtube. Youtube, 6 March 2012. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.

“WordPress Screenshot.” 2014. JPG file.