iFriends

internet friends vs real friends

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Excerpt from this article:

Yeah, yeah, I might have loads of Facebook friends but it’s my REAL friends, the ones I see every day in the office, or went to school with who matter… It’s what you’re supposed to say, isn’t it? The internet has ruined friendships. It’s made a mockery of carefully built up relationships. It’s no substitute for REAL LIFE interaction. Pressing the ‘like’ button has replaced caring for people. Online interactions damage ‘real’ interactions.

*sings* Bol.Locks.

…Through [online] groups I connected with a clutch of incredibly like-minded people; people who sit alone at home all day, often in their pyjamas, typing on their laptops, writing articles read by millions of people, influencing decisions and generally producing stuff that would make you think they were a lot cooler than they really are. Suddenly I had met my peer group, people I could talk to about my work who knew what being a freelancer feels like and who understood that interviewing a rock star was sometimes the least glamorous thing in your life.

 

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13, right now

Excerpt from this article:

This is what it’s like to grow up in the age of likes, lols and longing

Right now, Katherine is still looking down. “See this girl,” she says, “she gets so many likes on her pictures because she’s posted over nine pictures saying, ‘Like all my pictures for a tbh, comment when done.’ So everyone will like her pictures, and she’ll just give them a simple tbh.”

A tbh is a compliment. It stands for “to be heard” or “to be honest.”… “It kind of, almost, promotes you as a good person. If someone says, ‘tbh you’re nice and pretty,’ that kind of, like, validates you in the comments. Then people can look at it and say ‘Oh, she’s nice and pretty.’ ”

…“Happy birthday posts are a pretty big deal,” she says. “It really shows who cares enough to put you on their page.”

…Some of Katherine’s very best friends have never been to her house, or she to theirs. To [her Dad], it seems like they rarely hang out, but he knows that to her, it seems like they’re together all the time. He tries to watch what she sends them — pictures of their family skiing, pictures of their cat Bo — but he’s not sure what her friends, or whomever she follows, is sending back. He checks the phone bill to see who she’s called and how much she’s been texting, but she barely calls anyone and chats mostly through Snapchat, where her messages disappear.

…Even if her dad tried snooping around her apps, the true dramas of teenage girl life are not written in the comments. Like how sometimes, Katherine’s friends will borrow her phone just to un-like all the Instagram photos of girls they don’t like. Katherine can’t go back to those girls’ pages and re-like the photos because that would be stalking, which is forbidden.   Or how last week, at the middle school dance, her friends got the phone numbers of 10 boys, but then they had to delete five of them because they were seventh-graders. And before she could add the boys on Snapchat, she realized she had to change her username because it was her childhood nickname and that was totally embarrassing. Then, because she changed her username, her Snapchat score reverted to zero. The app awards about one point for every snap you send and receive. It’s also totally embarrassing and stressful to have a low Snapchat score. So in one day, she sent enough snaps to earn 1,000 points.

Four Hours of Screen Time? No Problem

Excerpt from this article:

This past summer, I came home from work to find my son and his friend M. playing Roblox, a massively multiplayer online game that lets you construct virtual worlds and customize an avatar to explore it.

“How long have they been playing?” I asked his baby sitter.

“Four hours,” she said.

Stunned, I looked at them. “Four?”

At 8 ½, my son had a 15-minute daily limit for iPod games or the Wii and 30 minutes on weekends. By all rights, I should want to kill my baby sitter, who knew that. But I looked at my son, happy, hands flying over the keyboard, talking and laughing with his new friend, and realized, I didn’t care.

It was his first play date in months. There were extenuating circumstances. Over the course of second grade, his behavior deteriorated so badly that he lost every single friend. I looked at his baby sitter and shrugged. “They’re happy,” she confirmed.

The possibility of a new friendship emerging, for me, outweighed all the warnings about screen time.

Video Games Are Key Elements in Friendships for Many Boys

Gaming Boys Play Games in Person or Online With Friends More Frequently Than Gaming Girls

Excerpt from this article:

In our focus groups, the responses to questions about who teens play with ran the gamut. One high schooler told us, “I play with everyone,” while another explained, “I play with friends and then I meet new people through those friends.”

…Other teens told us they liked playing games because they could be a different person. A high school boy explained how “you use an alter ego” when playing. And still others benefit from the opportunity to take out their frustrations on people they would never interact with again. As a high school boy told us, “If you, like, have a bad game, instead of throwing your controller, you can just take it out on them.”

…One middle school boy in our focus groups explained that he and a gaming friend talked about a mix of things pertaining to the game and their lives: “Like, we were talking about the game and then I’d be like, so, what do you like to do? And we would just share thoughts. Stuff.” Other teens told us that this type of interaction was “very rare.” And that usually it’s, “No hi’s. No bye’s. No hellos.”

Focus group data suggests that trash talking is pervasive in online gaming and that it can create a challenging conversational climate. As one high school boy told us, “If you’ve ever been on any form of group chat for a game, yeah. It’s harsh. … It’s funny, though. Unless you take it seriously. Cause some people take certain things personally.”

 

 

How the Internet Affects Our Relationships

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A recent study found that “Facebook stalking” an ex-partner was found to hinder recovery after the end of the relationship through prolonging the emotional distress felt. Those who were more traumatised by the break-up were more likely to indulge in Facebook stalking. It’s hard to imagine that these people would all have been prepared to stalk their ex-partners so readily in real life. What is the Internet doing to our relationships with other people that lead us to behave so differently on- and offline?

The two key attributes the Internet offers that allow people to act so differently online are anonymity and physical distance. These attributes contribute to the disinhibition effect. The Internet essentially removes the constraints we usually feel when talking face-to-face, with the resulting effects on our behaviour, leading to online bullying, trolling, stalking and flaming. The regularity with which these behaviours appear in the media might lead us to think that the disinhibition effect has only negative effects, but there can be positive effects too.

For good and for ill

Building closer relationship with people is built upon sharing things about ourselves, such as our likes, dislikes, worries and concerns. Some people find this quite challenging face-to-face, so the physical distance provided by communicating through the Internet is invaluable. For example, socially anxious adolescents find it easier to disclose personal information to their friends when online, the Internet acting as a place where relational skills can be practised.

The New Intimacy Economy

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Lately Facebook is getting a little too intimate with me. “Good morning, Leigh,” it coos. “Thanks for being here. We hope you enjoy Facebook today.” Then, like a slice of dystopian cafeteria lunch, it serves one of its abysmal “memories” into my feed, some forgotten years-old share, and when I tell it I don’t want to see that, Facebook scrapes apologetically: “We know we don’t always get it right.”

Pretending at closeness is really the only way forward for anyone who wants to make money on the internet. As such, watch as organizations pretend, with increasing intensity, that they are individuals. Start counting how many times platforms, services and websites entreat you in human voices, with awkward humor, for money. Watch as the things we expect to be invisible, utilitarian, start oozing emojis and winky-smileys. Even Silicon Valley, global epicenter of whitewashed empathy voids and 1-percenter sci-fi wank fantasies, is going to pretend it cares about you. Especially Silicon Valley. Ugh.

Your inbox is going to fill up with requests for professional favors from strangers who tell you they love you. They are not remotely your peers, but they’ll expect you to work for them anyway for exposure, for credit, for kudos, for ‘the community’. They add emojis for effect, too. Your feelings are now professional currency. Everyone who makes anything digital is monitoring the exchange rate to survive. Every content creator is now a community manager.

You live in a network of friends, likes, favorites, hearts and stars. The future is not a prison of robot overlords, but a Lucky Charms hell world stuffed with ‘plushies’ you backed on Kickstarter. Tell Your Story, Medium begs me in the field where I post this article. Please like and share this article. Please Tweet at me to tell me I kick ass.

How to Meet an Online Friend in Real Life Without It Being Awkward

How to Meet an Online Friend in Real Life Without It Being Awkward

Excerpt from this article:

…somehow, meeting someone you know online platonically has become a far more awkward endeavor than a random OKCupid date. You know her but you dont know her. Do you shake hands? Do you hug? Do you do that open-palmed half-wave? God forbid she goes for the hug and you go for the handshake like you’re in some jerking, uncoordinated, chest-poking dance.