onlyyyWed Apr 15,
Posted by Hal
A pretty interesting and healthy discussion broke out on my Facebook page yesterday, responding to my last blog post. I thought I’d reproduce it here and respond while I was at it. (My comments are new, added here, they didn’t appear in the original discussion.) And, hey, let’s keep this discussion going! I’m reprinting the comments in order, and using the initials of the commentators here, hopefully they’ll comment on the blog and identify themselves in full if they so wish. So here goes:
TD: I’m with you on many elements of your ‘peep’ thesis as presented thus far in other posts/forums, but “it’s still entertainment and distraction, not some newly evolved way to learn, connect and meaningfully interact” comes off as broad and gratuitous, a bit of overstatement for effect. For some types of use, you’re correct, but for others I’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary to agree completely. My ability to respond with the above, within the same medium, in context, inside an hour also does not remind me of television.
[Hal says: it’s a bit broad, true, and of course there are many exceptions but overall I’m sticking to my guns here: peep culture is replacing pop culture which means we’re deriving entertainment from watching other people’s lives, and FB is a big part of that. Does that mean that’s all we’re doing on FB and other peep sites? No. But it’s a big part of it and we have to acknowledge that. And interactive tv is already happening with more just around the corner as TV and Peep inevitably complete their merger.]
MS: The correlation between lower grades in TV-watching students and Facebook-ing students does not necessarily imply that the same factors can be attributed to the causality models. For example, both models most likely identify “distraction” as a factor that contributes to the effect of lower grades. But what are the other factors unique to the between Facebook and lower grades? I would suspect that they differ and that it would be quite interesting to analyze them on a deeper level. I think that a major divergence between TV and Facebook is the presentation of a narrative within a formally defined beginning and ending (even so-called “reality” shows are presented as such). Facebook is a never ending “narrative” that is not framed within any context. In addition, as TD points out, TV is passive (TV viewer) whereas Facebook is active (Facebook user). Therefore, the comparative influence of each medium on the grades of students’ must take these factors into account.
[agreed there’s plenty more to study. we’re still trying to figure out the effects of television watching on kids, let alone the rest of it. love your point, MS, about the fact that FB and peep are never ending, unlike tv which at least has nominal breakaway points. ergo: peep is more addictive and fascinating and obsessive!]
MM: Whether passive or active, one thing the two mediums have in common is the mass communication of meaningless drivel: on that point, Hal, you are spot on in your analysis.
[thanks MM. but I’m not sure it’s drivel, or always drivel: it’s people – all of us – using the techniques presented to us, ironically alienating mass media type techniques, to try and announce the fact that we exist, have opinions and feelings, aren’t just statistics and net worths.]
TD: That could be said of the Internet as a whole (vs. a specific comment on social networking behavior). In fact, is the bulk of Facebook use even “mass communication”?
[it is…it’s one person communicating to many. how many? depends on # of friends etc. and, yes, it can be said and has been said and will continue to be said that the bulk of the content on the Internet is drivel…]
RS: absolutely! maybe worse ...cause when ‘working’ on computer you can Facebook without even noticing (like now!) but I’d never go up and turn on the tv.
[so very true…social networking and peep break down barriers which, again, is why it’s all so addictive: you are twittering and you maybe aren’t even sure if you’re twittering for work or for yourself or both at the same time…]
MM: TD, I think Hal’s thesis is that both mediums are more about “mass entertainment” and “mass amusement” rather than “mass communication”.
TD: As I’ve said, I agree in part (if by “both mediums” you still mean social media in particular). But is “mass” anything (e.g., audiences) a prerequisite for ‘peep’ to function? Hal? I swear I see it play out on a much smaller scale all the time, just as I also see social network interactions that I can’t dismiss as detached/pointless amusement.
[i think that, yes, peep functions only on an ‘mass’ scale which is not too say that every blog post and twitter gets a mass audience, but that anything anywhere has the potential to become mass entertainment on a massive scale. the prerequisite for something to be part of peep culture is, in my mind, that potential. and, again, it’s not at pointless, and, as with television, there’s more to it than just entertainment, but no matter what happens, those other elements are always a by-product of entertainment]
MM: I still think Hal’s thesis is spot on. Think about it: ppl on FB surfing each other’s status statements like they used to change channels with their remote control, seeking (i.e. peeping) whatever entertains or amuses? Moreover, the social contact between FB friends (unless based offline in the first place, or an anachronism, at best) hardly ever rises above that of superficial. How much more akin to TV can a medium get anyway?
[I’m with mm here]
TD: That’s just not my experience with the medium. YMMV.
[thanks everyone, great conversation, let’s keep it going!]
Hey, I’m Hal Niedzviecki. I’m a writer/thinker who lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with my wife and daughter. Up till now I’ve always considered myself a private person. But at the same time I’m fascinated by people who effortlessly open themselves up to the whole world. So I’ve… more...
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