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October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network" 
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Post October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
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Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:52 am
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
I agree with what you're saying for the most part, I do have a Facebook and a Twitter account, but I rarely ever visit them, because having online friends just isn't as appealing as having real-life ones. I don't understand what the appeal is of having hundreds of friends you don't even know, no one person needs that many friends. I'll admit it can be nice to talk to someone who you share common interests with, but you're never 100% sure that the person you're talking to is who they say they are, for all you know, you could be chatting it up with a registered sex-offender or any other type of serial criminal, or just a sick-minded individual in general, who may not have done anything legally wrong but has very disturbing views. Bottom line, these are all people you'd avoid like the plague in real life, but on the internet, everyone can just hide behind a wall of personal claims and odds are you'll have a hard time knowing if they're telling you the truth or not. This is why i'm very selective about who I talk to on the web, i'll admit it would be nice to meet someone online and form a loving relationship, but there'd always be that underlying thought that i'm somehow getting scammed or set up, and it's hard to shake that feeling(though if a person posts a video of themself, it does ease you up a bit) in real life, it might be more akward to have social conversations, but at least then you get a good idea of the type of person you're talking to, which is the most important thing in any relationship, and that's why Facebook will never be a "real" substitute for real life interaction.


Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:59 am
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
My long-standing theory about the Internet is that online anonymity turns just about anybody into some kind of an asshole. However, if the person is already an asshole to begin with, then the Internet turns them into a completely insufferable asshole.

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Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:34 pm
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
First, I've been on the internet for almost 20 years and met my wife there around the same time you met yours. So, we're coming from the same place. I think your analysis is spot-on; I'll just add some more comments.

The timeline internet--WWW--application (e.g. Facebook) is not obvious to most, since most are aware of the current stage when they came in. How many Facebook users know that there is more to the WWW than Facebook? How many WWW users know that there is more to the internet than the WWW? How many internet users know that there is more to a computer than the internet? (And how many computer users know there is more to the world than computers?)

Newsgroups are still around. Most of the ones I follow I've been following for almost 20 years. The amount of traffic is about the same, and many regular posters have been there for many years as well. Of course, in terms of the fraction of internet traffic they are negligible today, but in absolute numbers, not much has changed. Spam and flames have come and gone. With so many other outlets for idiots these days, newsgroups are a safe haven.

I regularly read (and sometimes contribute to) several blogs. Even with RSS feeds (separate for posts and comments), I still don't have the functionality I had on usenet 20 years ago: a common interface (including my favourite editor) for everything, the ability to see only new posts, everything sorted by topic and within the topic in order (who replies to whom) and this for all newsgroups at once. My newsreader updates all the groups I subscribe to in a couple of seconds then I can see all the new posts. If I'm not interested in a thread, I can make all posts invisible with a single keystroke.

I am on Linked-In because someone asked me to join, but I haven't done much there. No other social media. In addition to the disadvantages you mention, I see two more. First, it's not the way I communicate. Almost everything is meant either for one person or a small group of people, in which case email is appropriate, or for everyone, in which case it should go somewhere anyone can access it, like in a forum or on a regular web page (remember those?). There is practically nothing I want to communicate to some vaguely defined circle of "friends". Also, the whole point of the web and indeed the internet is that content is separate from presentation. A web server can be accessed by any browser. One doesn't need to know what OS the other side is running. And so on. With Facebook and other social media, everything is tied to their format. One can't just transfer it somewhere else like one can transfer web pages from one server to another, with different server software, operating system and/or hardware.

My first wife once asked a neighbour what her husband used to do before he spent so much time with the computer (in this case, mainly playing Tomb Raider). Her reply: he slept a lot.

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s I read a lot of stuff, fact and fiction, by Asimov and Clarke. Depending on how far in the future the story is set, either Asimov or Clarke is more realistic. Clarke was better for the near future. Essentially everything we now have on the internet was described by him decades before. He even had a short story relating how much of the bandwidth would be used for porn. Back then, reading about people working from home, the ability to have more information than one can digest in one's lifetime in the blink of an eye on the basis of just a few keyboards seemed like magic. (As Clarke said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.) And it has come true in my lifetime. Not to mention free porn! :-)


Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:35 pm
Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
Not to mention, Clarke eerily describes a tablet computer with access to worldwide, up-to-the-minute news websites in 2001: A Space Odyssey, all the way back in 1968.

Sexual Chocolate wrote:
My long-standing theory about the Internet is that online anonymity turns just about anybody into some kind of an asshole. However, if the person is already an asshole to begin with, then the Internet turns them into a completely insufferable asshole.

Maybe having just watched Apocalypse Now a couple nights ago is coloring my logic, but I don't think anonymity turns anybody into anything. It just reveals something that's already there, a dark potential that lies within all of us. That's the human condition: in the right circumstances, we're all insufferable assholes.

---

James, have you considered using a client that cross-posts to both Twitter and Facebook? I can understand your avoidance of the big blue monster for personal purposes, but it can be very useful in maintaining a strictly professional presence.

One thing your Reelthought made me think of was the mid-1990s, when corporate websites started to become commonplace. People looked at them with derision. Pepsi.com? Who on Earth would ever go to a website like that? (I remember a newspaper cartoon--a Ziggy or something like that--with a newly dead soul standing at the Pearly Gates, which were adorned with the banner "HEAVEN.COM".) Within just a few years, it became the reverse. Every commercial enterprise, big or small, had to have a website, or it was viewed as hopelessly out of step with the times.

We're not quite there with social media, but it's coming soon. Anyone who's anyone in the professional world will have to adopt it. The small presence you've cultivated with Twitter is more presence than you'd have otherwise, and the same would go for Facebook as well if your new review alerts appeared there. Every little bit helps.

Re. the concern that online life will overtake offline life: I don't know if we'll get to that point or not. I do think the distinction will become less and less meaningful, maybe to the point where there is none. It will be like the explosion in personal automobile ownership in the early 20th century. It will remake our thinking. Technology changes our lifestyle in profound ways, and it's difficult to say whether it's for better or worse. It's a question with a lot of equations to balance.


Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:48 am
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
I tend to think of the Internet, Facebook and Twitter as tools that in the hands of the right people will be used in the right way, and in the hands of the wrong people can lead to all sorts of issues. That has been my long-standing personal opinion.

I personally don't use Facebook at all. I think it has its benefits; for eg., one of my cousins was able to get himself linked to a contact from the U.S. who was able to help him get into a Master's Degree programme at a respectable university whose name escapes me at the moment. It can also be a great tool for advertising and, in the case of people like James, can help in pulling in an increased viewerbase. However, the majority don't use it for that purpose.

I hate some friends/relatives who choose to come home after work/college and talk with friends through FB rather than meeting them in person. Some of these people will be within walking distance of each other and yet choose FB over personal interaction. Many of my long-time school friends have repeatedly requested me to use FB more and I have denied each time. Whenever I want to talk to them, I make a phone call and hang out with them on weekends. Even right now, I've been outside the country for the past year, but still choose to call them directly instead of FBing them. I still have a FB account, but it largely remains inactive for the most part. I have been able to get in touch with some really old friends - People who I'd like to remember but not really be close friends with.

One of my friends cited an incident which only increased my hate for FB: Apparently his close friend had a baby girl, a happy news under any circumstance, but chose to share the info through FB instead of calling his closest friends. My friend had to find it out through the FB photo upload and called him immediately to give him an earful for not calling. The person in question said he had updated on FB and therefor didn't bother to call everyone individually. TL;DR - As James has pointed out, the moment people choose FB over personal interaction is when it becomes more of a bane than a boon.

Twitter is something that I've come to grips with and has really improved my writing in general. I stayed off Twitter for a long time for much of the same reasons as FB. But I've recently been using it more and more often in an effort to get more readers for my blog. Not to mention it is fun and captivating to use as well. The challenge to present a decent train of thought within 140 words is something that I find worth pursuing. Whenever I don't find the time to come up with meaningful posts on a topic, I usually end up tweeting the same. For people like James, it can be advertising gold with the amount of re-tweets they are bound to get.

Overall, in one sense, I do agree with James that when FB and Twitter overtake a person's interpersonal interactions, then they are really bad. However, the Internet (and tools like Twitter and Facebook) is much of the reason for the wealth of knowledge I've been able to build up on a variety of worldly topics. I still feel that when used properly, they - like any technology - will be more of a boon than a bane.

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Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:29 am
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
You and I must have spent the 80's on different Usenets. Some newsgroups were very civil, but they were known for it as the exception, not the rule. Flame wars were common and ongoing, and not just in net.flame, or later in talk.abortion (which if you read now is, minus the spam, no different contentwise from what it was the day it was created).

I remember back in 1984 when this NY Times article was referenced in net.flame, under the subject "Flaming being studied at CMU": http://www.nytimes.com/1984/10/02/science/emotional-outbursts-punctuate-conversations-by-computer.html?scp=1&sq=Emotional%20Outbursts%20Punctuate%20Conversations%20by%20Computer&st=cse

The general reaction was that it was about time someone tried to make sense of how the most timid people IRL could take leave of all manners and decency online.

So is it a good thing or a bad thing that I can look up Usenet content from the mid 80's on Google Groups? I'd hoped that the crap I wrote back then had disappeared forever. Anyway, the net.flame posting is here: http://groups.google.com/group/net.flame/msg/5c21151f36b1ff60

Also, you'll always have people who don't know what the Internet really is. Just as there are people for whom the web, and Facebook in particular, is the Internet, it wasn't that long ago that the same could be said for AOL and CompuServe. OK, sorry, it was that long ago. :)


Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:46 am
Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
Two close friends of mine (real life ones) have recently left Facebook and I'm considering doing the same. Not just because the experience is irritating beyond belief but also due to the attitude of those who run the site, that the law somehow doesn't apply to them.

The only reason I stay is to quickly arrange real life social gatherings with people I see 'IRL' on a regular basis.

I disagree that the introduction of visuals to the internet is a 'style over substance' issue. We underestimate the importance of 'seeing' in our everyday lives, I feel.


Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:58 pm
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
Almost ANYTHING can over take a person's life. Movies can over take a person's life. Obviously, facebook is no different.

I love facebook but despite twitter but that has more to do with the crappy 140 character limit which is obscenely low. Facebook has a character limit as well but it's not nearly as bad as twitter's.


Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:25 pm
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
BTW, what a trip to look at the site the way it was from it's past. I've been a regular reader/viewer of this site since 1994 or 1995. So it was pretty awesome to take a trip down memory lane and to see how the site has evolved over the years! 8-)


Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:28 pm
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
I myself am on Facebook and have at last count around 340 friends. However, I'd estimate that about 315-320 of them are people I know from real life, a few going as far back as Middle School.

I've witnessed a few real world instances of computer addiction (not counting myself :lol:).

Admittedly there are times where the current state of cyberspace reminds me of a Kurt Vonnegut or Phillip K Dick novel.

I never had friendster or myyearbook (the first two social networking sites). I set up a Myspace account back in 2005, then more or less forgot about it for a year until a friend of mine from work mentioned he was on there. I was heavily on Myspace back in 2008-early to mid 2009 mainly because my girlfriend was on it more than she was on FB and the geographical distance between us at the time made regular face to face interaction difficult (a problem that has since been corrected).

Today FB is the primary cyberspace thing and I go on at least once a day if not more. However I have no interest at all in the FB games that keep a lot of people on there a lot of time. Games like Farmville and The Sims Social are to me as boring as watching paint dry. Myspace, while not totally dead and buried, has descended into basic irrelevance. Do a Google search on "Why Myspace failed" and you'll find lots of business related viewpoints. Speaking from a user standpoint I'd attribute the downfall to two things: the overall feel of Myspace was always (to many people anyway) of a site for primarily high school kids and the fact that the glitziness made it a lot less user friendly. At some point, FB will fall by the wyside. But I don't see that happening for a while yet. Remember, there was a time when AOL was the big thing in Internet access. Today it's just one among many.

I suspect that many of the people who get caught up so deeply in cyberspace tend to be those who are unpopular in real life. Many of them are either students or people with few friends and shit jobs that they barely tolerate. To them cyberspace is a form of escape from the inanity and insanity of the real world. That part is easy to understand. I first got online when I was a senior in high school. At that time when I went online it was for about an hour or so each day for fun. Then when I got into college I started spending more time on it. At the time I was going through a lot of personal problems and the online world represented an escape.

Today while I'm not online as much as I once was, I do spend more time there than I really should.

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Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:42 pm
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
I was fine with myspace. I just migrated over to Facebook because everyone else did. It would have been a bit lonely if I stayed with Myspace. Although technically I'm still with Myspace since I never deleted my account.


Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:51 pm
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
First of all, I'm glad to see the Reelthoughts are becoming more frequent. I always enjoy them no matter how cynical they come across.

I use Facebook frequently, but Twitter sparingly. The status-posting on the fly almost makes the two interchangable, except that one is for words only and the other one explodes with photos, videos, games, and personal details galore. All of my "friends" on Facebook are people that I know or have spent some sizable degree of time with at one point (like at school or a job). As a supplement to my life, it does wonders, especially considering that I can chat with people I hardly ever get to spend time in real life with (but would if there were more hours in each day). But I'm not obsessed. Once you start with the whole uploading photos and videos thing, a few "likes" and comments will start to make you feel obligated to post more just so you can get attention and quasi-respect. People can easily become famous for being famous.

The online bullying is a pervasive problem. I know people who are friendly in real life, but once they get behind a computer, they turn really nasty and hurtful. I don't mean the little good-natured ribbing or joke you'd have at a buddy's expense (like the "being unmanly" jokes in the Miller Lite commercials), I'm talking about ugly, personal diatribes. I'm sure we've all seen it. Look no further than Armond White, whom JB says comes off as almost meek in real life whereas his reviews often read like fire-and-brimstone rants.

Bottom line, I love technology, but I'm always careful to show consistency; be the same person you are in real life as you are online.


Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:34 pm
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
I was finishing my engineering degree at the same time James started his. I remember all of these things listed, but really didn't get into the internet until discovering Reelviews. Online is a wonderful place, but I have no use for facebook at all. I'm convinced it is nothing but a waste of time for most. My wife loves it though, and I guess if it actually keeps people amused its not worse than any other form of entertainment. I do my share of time-wasting on this and three other non-movie related forums. Guess I'd rather be entertained by strangers than keep up with the minute details of my friend's lives.


Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:37 pm
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
Ken wrote:
Pepsi.com? Who on Earth would ever go to a website like that?


I still don't know why anyone would bother going to pepsi.com other than to see what cool flash animations they are wasting money on or to give them your life's information to win a contest...


Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:40 am
Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
ilovemovies wrote:
BTW, what a trip to look at the site the way it was from it's past. I've been a regular reader/viewer of this site since 1994 or 1995. So it was pretty awesome to take a trip down memory lane and to see how the site has evolved over the years! 8-)


I remember the marquee goofy banner James had on the site back then, but i don't remember the "out of 10" rating.

James, how did that work?


Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:43 am
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
MrGuinness wrote:
ilovemovies wrote:
BTW, what a trip to look at the site the way it was from it's past. I've been a regular reader/viewer of this site since 1994 or 1995. So it was pretty awesome to take a trip down memory lane and to see how the site has evolved over the years! 8-)


I remember the marquee goofy banner James had on the site back then, but i don't remember the "out of 10" rating.

James, how did that work?


Ah, the old 0 to 10 scale. I used that exclusively in 1992, 1993 and 1994. Starting in 1994, I migrated over to the 4-star system but kept both available for a while (through the end of 1997). The mapping was straightforward:

0.0 to 0.9 - 0 stars
1.0 to 1.9 - 0.5 stars
2.0 to 2.9 - 1 star
3.0 to 3.9 - 1.5 stars
4.0 to 5.9 - 2 stars
6.0 to 6.9 - 2.5 stars
7.0 to 7.9 - 3 stars
8.0 to 8.9 - 3.5 stars
9.0 to 10.0 - 4 stars

I used the digit to the right of the decimal point, but after I while I realized I couldn't tell the difference between an 8.2 and an 8.3. Too much granularity.


Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:29 am
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
Value of Twitter: It's not on the server that hosts ReelViews (and my e-mail account). So if ReelViews were to crash, I could post a message on Twitter about the problem and update the status. There was almost such a catastrophe yesterday. ReelViews.net was being bombarded by hits from Korea and Russia to the point where the site had to be temporarily suspended because it was gobbling up resources. The host company did some selective blocking that resolved the problem, but there's no guarantee something similar couldn't happen again (or the forums could be hacked as they were several weeks ago, although that was an easy fix). Twitter provides an independent means of communication. So if there's some kind of failure that lasts for more than a few hours, check Twitter. It's likely I will have posted a status update if it's more than a transient problem.


Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:34 am
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
KRoss wrote:
The online bullying is a pervasive problem. I know people who are friendly in real life, but once they get behind a computer, they turn really nasty and hurtful. I don't mean the little good-natured ribbing or joke you'd have at a buddy's expense (like the "being unmanly" jokes in the Miller Lite commercials), I'm talking about ugly, personal diatribes. I'm sure we've all seen it. Look no further than Armond White, whom JB says comes off as almost meek in real life whereas his reviews often read like fire-and-brimstone rants.


I don't get the online bullying thing. If some one is bothering you on facebook you always have the option to de-friend them. Problem solved.

Of course, bullying in any form has never been an issue for me.


Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:14 pm
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Post Re: October 11, 2011: "The Anti-Social Network"
ilovemovies wrote:
I don't get the online bullying thing. If some one is bothering you on facebook you always have the option to de-friend them. Problem solved.


You're correct that un-friending can alleviate the direct attacks, but often the larger problem in online bullying situations is others publicly bashing whomever they're trying to oppress. It's a strange concept, but when it becomes an enormous problem for kids is when they believe (rightfully or not) that everyone knows the grievances of those doing the bullying. Trash-talking in written form, and the seemingly finality of that, is the larger problem that leads to depression or worse.


Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:36 pm
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