a tide,turning

This past month has been marked by:

  • Moving from the ghetto of Bushwick to the gayborhood of Chelsea (Brooklyn->Manhattan).
  • Getting laid off from my dog-running position (the day after we decided to move to the area).
  • Extensive website-making and my nascent introduction to programming (Python).
  • Working on my first publications, which are in the final stages of the editing process.
  • A lot of beer-drinking and friendshipping while I wait to hear back from schools and start my new jobs.

At least I am not alone in my misfortune – just another victim of this drowning economy. On the plus side, the current climate has shattered the false gods of individualism and consumer culture, revealing the matrix of proximate connections and interrelationships that enables our survival. As we continue to weave this web of neotribes, those markers of identity that once defined our place in societal structures (be they institutionalized or “alternative”) become increasingly meaningless. Trust, authenticity and reciprocity, those factors which are paramount to the success of online communities (truly the “network of all networks” when I speak of neotribalism), have never been so essential to my survival as they are today.

It’s been an enormously eye-opening experience, and in the process I’ve learned a few things:

  • Dissolution and spontaneity are easy; it’s the building of something new and true that’s the hard part.
  • I’d rather be honest and poor than rich and wasting my time on that which does not align with my values.
  • While I’d long considered myself oversensitive- prone to shutting down in the presence of those who make me feel uncomfortable- I’ve come to deeply value this instinctive mechanism of self-preservation. Trust is not something to be dispensed lightly.
  • On that note, toxic friends construct their own social demise, so let them do so and avoid ’em at all costs.
  • No matter where you are now and how alone you may feel, it will change again with great velocity and immense unpredictability.
  • Thus, continue Big Dreaming and inventing the future, for life itself is an artform fuelled by love’s imagination.

Lit Review: An Evaluation of Identity-Sharing Behavior in Social Network Communities (Stutzman)

-Though academic institutions have been working to protect student identities, their work is increasingly being undermined by social networking communities (SNCs).
-The goals of this study were twofold: obtaining quantitative data about SNC participation on college campuses, and analyzing member attitudes pertaining to SNC participation and online identity sharing. This data was gathered from the perspective of an outsider to these communities.
-A random survey of 200 students (38 of whom responded) inquired about the specifics of their involvement in SNCs as well as their feelings regarding online identity sharing. The researcher then created a disclosure matrix for each participant by examining the data made available in their SNC profiles.
-Limitations: Small sample size, internet survey may be biased toward the tech-savvy, outsider status, lexical differences in coding identity elements of the SNCs (favorite movies, sexual orientation, academic status, etc;).

-71% involvement in SNCs: 90% of undergrads, 44% of grads.
-Most popular was Facebook (90% of undergrads), followed by Friendster and MySpace.
-Though participants expressed doubt that their identity information was protected online (2.66 on a 5-point Likert scale), they were nevertheless okay with friends accessing this information (4.55), but markedly less so with strangers (3.15).
-Information of particular interest: location, sexual orientation, political status
-Urges discussion of new identity disclosure threats posed by SNCs.

The very small sample size of this study makes it almost entirely worthless to review, but it is worth noting that academic institutions are working to protect the identities of their students. In another vein, the enormous discrepency between SNC participation by undergrads and that of graduate students suggest that the undergaduate community may possess certain qualities or needs that SNCs fulfill, such as maintaining high school ties.

Seeing as identity disclosure would seem to be a pertinent issue, it would be interesting to reassess users’ feelings on the matter now that SNCs have become both mainstream and problematized by media discourse. How is “stalking” defined (it is a commonly used term in Facebook discourse)? What sort of activities and degree of involvement are deemed acceptable by today’s norms?