Social Networking: the Organics VS the Industrialized

March 11, 2010 at 1:58 am 2 comments

“[N]ew research is indicating that it’s a girl’s world and that girls are jumping into online media at a faster rate than boys,” says Valerie Steeves, a professor at the University of Ottawa.

(Article source in “Technology is a girl’s best friend”.)           

As one of those girls, I would like to say that the beauty of online media goes beyond “finding one’s self”. Rather, it fits with our lives. We are slowly becoming aware of the constant demands made on us by our professors, bosses, parents, and ourselves. When going out becomes a strenuous demand on our time involving getting ready, transportation there and back, and the overall susceptibility we have to peer pressure when asked to hang out for another hour… or 4, it becomes obvious that we need somewhere to socialize that’s at the ultimate convenience. That break from midterm studying is commonly spent surfing Facebook, YouTube, or joke sites. It’s a great way to relax and place your focus elsewhere before you yell at your textbooks that Caligula was a weirdo.

Aside from that, it’s a tool that lets us communicate and keep in touch with people we see every day while also letting us keep in touch with the family and friends whom we rarely see. I would say there are times when my best friend and I are inseparable. It would be even worse if she actually had a cell phone. There are days where we have classes together, hang out on breaks, chat on Facebook, then on MSN, then call each other, and usually end up finding each other, yet again, on Facebook later on in the evening. Social networks let us build stronger relationships with people outside of our families. It’s common knowledge that the divorce rate is nearing 50%. With family struggles, we seek out other people to grow close to and to find that bond that most generations before us cherished as a basic family characteristic. This shouldn’t be seen as a personal problem, but rather as a change in social structure – and with all changes comes new benefits and obstacles. I have mentioned the benefits above as well as in most of my blogs. Below are the obstacles, which I label as junk food or the industrialized foods.

The obstacles of social networking can be labelled as the Junk Food. Junk food includes Sexting, Cyberbullying, and other “media pressures”. These demean the healthy, organic essence of social networking. However, like with junk food, we sometimes seek it out either to feel better about who we are or for the short-term sugar high we crave.

“Sexting” (a portmanteau of sex and texting) is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between cell phones. While this might be normal when psychologists explain that it’s the new method of showing interest in another individual, these photos can be posted to the internet and transferred to other people. Once you’ve pressed send, it’s very difficult to get the material back. You can argue that sending personal images to someone you don’t trust wasn’t a wise move, but I would say that we’ve all trusted someone who, after a fight or a revelation, turned out to be as trustworthy as a boyfriend who says he’ll protect your chocolate milk. Sexting is like chips (my favourite is salt and vinegar): you eat a couple and enjoy the flavour, until your stomach begins to feel a little nauseas and the feeling that you’ve lost control sits in the bottom of your tummy when you look into the empty bag.

The second prominent junk food at your local food store or social network is Cyberbullying. I have second-hand experience with this highly-caloric food. Students at my school started a thread about a supposed “best friend”, discussing her mother and the religious community she actively participated in. Besides this behaviour being juvenile and discriminatory, once it was publicized, the effects it had on our grade are immeasurable. Not having been a victim, my reaction was one of shock and disappointment. I do not want technology to be a new tool for bullies. The deliberate behaviour by a minor to torment, threaten, harass, humiliate, embarrass or otherwise target another minor is something that disturbs me more now than before when the instance was fresh. As a psychology student, I’ve become aware of the impact of small childhood developments on later adult personalities and mental processes. Something that has been studied recently is the possibility that accumulation of childhood bullying may actually develop into Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Defined as a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma with lack or loss of control, disempowerment, and in the context of either captivity or entrapment. It’s worrying that the online environment is yet another, stronger, means of disempowering youth by other minors.

The online environment is also another way for media to share their stereotypes with youth, and since most teens now spend more time on their computers than in front of a TV (primarily because computers also act as TVs), the media can actually reach them. This is the junk food most of us have tasted, studied, or heard about. We`ve been made aware of the influences media has on the behaviour of youth, now we must control it.

Both real and cyber junk foods are hard to avoid. I’ve brought them to your attention so you may go about the cyber world more cautious, and/or you’ll join me in seeing that producers of these junk foods will be brought to justice. Research shows that girls feel safer online than in the “real world”, let’s prove them right. For more information on how you can create a safer cyber world for our generation and those to come…

Read “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

(As a side note: the use of “organics” and “industrialized foods” as metaphors is directly caused by my new-found adoration for the companion book to the documentary Food, INC. I definitely suggest you read it too!)


Entry filed under: Society in Transition.

Technology is a girl’s best friend If I just tap my ruby red slippers…

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Web Design Company India  |  March 11, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Yes!! “Girls face cruel world online”….this is very miserable, but it is also true that girls are more often interested in doing things like posting bad (seductive) photos and dong sexting with friends (M/F) and attracting people…

    This also spoils the impression of other persons in the network…
    Always be careful while doing social netoworking…for both girls and boys.


    • 2. geninc2  |  May 12, 2010 at 2:53 am

      Thank you for the support Saurabh!
      I agree with you entirely and if you ever find information/stats/articles that you think are interesting and that I should share with other girls, do let me know. I enjoy passing on relevant information.
      Take care,


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