Question Forum 3

1. Do you think technology (e.g. social networking sites, online gaming, etc.) is a coping mechanism or do you think it causes us to need coping mechanisms?

2. “The worst thing that could possibly happen to anybody would be to not be used for anything or anybody” (26). Do you think that people want their lives to be validated and do we use social media to gain that validation from countless online viewers? Why do their opinions matter?

3. On page 37, Shirky sates that “Social media tools aren’t an alternative to real life, they are a part of it” (37). Consider your perception of yourself. Is your perception related to what groups you’re involved with, friends you have, quotes you use to define your outlook on life? Do you agree or disagree with Shirky’s statement?

4. In chapter 2, Shirky brings up the point of people going to a bar to buy a beer when it costs twice its original price. Why do you think people pay for “something” in order to have a chance for an experience? Will the Internet eventually replace face-to-face interaction for example, online dating sites and other fee-based memberships?


Question 4

I think that people pay more for the experience of going to a bar than it would actually cost them to have a drink at home because the bar provides a sense of community. People go to bars for the same reason that people pay a fee to join a country club or a fraternity/sorority. People crave social interaction and they are willing to pay for it. For this reason, I do not believe that the Internet will replace face-to-face interaction.

On page 59, Shirky writes, “Humans intrinsically value a sense of connectedness.” The Internet is a convenient way to gain social interaction, but the sense of connectedness it provides is not authentic and therefore less fulfilling. For example, Skype is a great way to stay in touch with people, but I do not think it could ever substitute being in the same physical location as the other person.

Even though the Internet involves more participation than TV, I think that it also could be viewed as a form of “social surrogacy,” as discussed on page 7. In some ways, the Internet is an alternate reality. For example, on online dating sites, it is easy to misrepresent yourself or contrastingly find yourself deceived by others. Just as people have found that “TV pushes aside other activities that are less immediately engaging but can produce longer-term satisfaction,” (6) I think that people will ultimately find that communicating via the Internet is less satisfying than engaging in an actual face-to-face conversation with another person.

I think that Shirky’s description of the PickupPal business is also an excellent example of why the Internet can never replace face-to-face interaction. He writes that the website only becomes valuable when people actually physically get in the car and ride together (42). He writes, “This is a case of social media as part of the real world” (42). Notice that he writes that it is only “part” of the real world. Social media is not a substitute for real engagement in the world. Even with online dating, the Internet only enables the couple to meet, but does not substitute the face-to-face social interaction that must take place for a real relationship to develop and succeed. For these reasons, I do not think that the Internet will ever replace face-to-face interaction.

Emily Whitesell


Question 1

I am 50-50 on this question. On one hand I don't think that most technology is a coping mechanism. I don't play any online games but if I did it would be to entertain myself not to cope with life. I use social media sites as a way to keep in touch with my friends or see what is going on in the world. (I follow CNN on twitter.) I don't use any of these as coping mechanisms.

However, I do think that I use TV as a way to make myself feel better about my life. Sure I don't have a job lined up for after college, but I'm not 16 raising twins. And I'm not Snookie getting drunk on a beach and falling face first in the sand. Sometimes I watch shows like 16 and Pregnant and Jersey Shore just for mindless entertainment. Other times I watch them to feel better about where I am in life.

Question 2

I immediately agreed with Shirkey's quote. I do think that we want to be validated but for me personally, I want personal validation. I want to see someone smile when I do something nice for them. I want to be recognized for things that I do, not tweets that I write or a Facebook status that I post. However, I think it is getting harder to get that personal validation. Something really great happened to me recently and I posted it on Facebook. Only about 4 people liked my status and I was a little upset. Why did I care? I guess that I do unconsciously expect validation via Facebook now because of the role of Facebook. But the other part of it is that I won't see some people on my friends list in order to personally tell them about what happened.

Despite feeling a little miffed at the lack of Facebook likes, I did feel great by the hugs and high fives I got when telling people in person. I still think that personal validation is still the most important to me.

Question 3

I agree with the quote that Shirkey says here. Using Facebook and Twitter seems normal to me. My parents aren't as used to the social media tools but it's all too common for me to have all friends with Facebooks. As far as social media defines my personal perception—it doesn't. Nothing about what I do online or on Facebook defines who I am. What does is my love for my family, my love for my pet, my love of reading, my hard work ethic and my ability to talk to anyone about anything. I don't use the "quotes" section on Facebook to let people know who I am. I don't think quotes are capable of doing that. I definitely do not have a self perception based on online aspects (at least for the most part). I am not sure that all people feel the same way. I am sure that people perceive themselves as gamers because they play W.o.W. all the time. I am sure some people consider themselves bloggers because they write a bunch of random thoughts down all of the time. However, this just is not the way I look at myself.

MC Hawes


Question 3

Social media have played an immense role in creating a internationally integrated community for our generation. As an international student, social media connected me to the lifestyles and communities of the west to my Asian traditions. My perception of my life has been a continuous change from a child growing up in India, in a heavily post-colonial influenced city, to my pre and teenage years in Singapore, moving from a local community to an international, British-dominated community to college life in southwest Virginia. Through all these drastic changes, the one constant in my life has been social media and how it has moulded my reality.

Shirky’s statement has been absolutely relevant in my life as I have relied on trends in television shows and movies, influences of popular music versus classics and how they are perceived in different communities and the literature I have been exposed to to mould my life. In college solely, the past four years have been a constant change with the influence of social media of different places on my life and outlook on it. While I spent my freshman year completely involved on campus and living the ‘American college-life”, I listened American top 40s chart while I reverted back to my high school lifestyle post- Christmas break with mostly British rock bands like the Oasis in my music taste. Once I returned to classical dancing my sophomore year, I paid a lot more attention to classical music, both in Indian and Western cultures and disconnected myself from the popular music that I enjoyed my first year. Last year, I spent a lot of my time listening to Spanish music and after a summer abroad in Spain, I returned to school listening to only European music and feeling out of place in a lot of bars and parties as I hadn’t been aware of what was popular on the radio here.

Using music as an example of social media and its’ influence on our lives, I have personally experienced its impact on the perception of my life and how it has developed in the past four years. Shirky believes that groups and social mediums change our perception of our lives and it has personally created different experiences and phases of my life.

Minni Gupta


Question 4

People probably pay for an experience because they believe the experience will be worth more than the money they pay for it. Some people may value money more than anything else in their lives, but I would say that most people want to do more than just accumulate wealth, which is why people are willing to pay more for a product than it may really be worth. The experience that comes along with the increased price is worth it.

Humans have more than just material needs; we crave connection, attention, praise, novelty, and many other things (look up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs if you want a better illustration), and we are often willing to pay to have these needs met. As Shirky says, buying a beer at a bar may cost more, but the bar also provides a place for conversation and connection. We also go to nice restaurants and pay more for a meal than it’s really worth because we might like the atmosphere or the novelty of the experience, and we also are willing to post our work online even though we aren’t being paid because we might want the attention or praise from other users and the feeling of having shared something with other people. This last point relates to the second question posted in that people may contribute content online or participate in social media in order to meet personal needs.

While I think that people are willing to pay for experiences, especially experiences that meet emotional needs, I do not think that the Internet will ever meet all of a person’s needs or that the Internet will replace face-to-face contact. Being in the same physical space with someone is much different than talking to someone online, and I don’t think this can be fully substituted. We may spend even more of our time talking with people online in the future, but it’s still just not the same as talking to someone next to you. I also don’t think that people will use more online fee-based sites in the future. Online dating has become increasing popular and socially acceptable, but I don’t really see a market for other services. Many websites are free to use, and I just don’t see it changing anytime soon. The fact that users contribute to sites for free probably plays into this. If people start having to pay to contribute, I don’t think they’ll do it, especially if such a change causes a significant number of other website users to leave. They’ll just find another website instead of paying to use that one. I think that if some websites start to charge users, for them to stay successful, they will have to offer additional content or privileges at a cost, while maintaining a section of the website that is free to the public

Amy Gay


Question 1:

I think that coping mechanism are different for everyone. I would argue that social networking sites and online gaming are not examples of ways that people “cope”. Exercising, sleeping, drinking, and eating are all proven coping mechanisms, where social networking sites are more of a forum on which to complain about your life’s problems. I can’t imagine that updating your status would be any kind of stress relief (unless of course you typed the keys really hard). That being said, I think that expressing emotions and life events on websites such as Facebook and Twitter is a way to gain sympathy – which teens and young adults are more and more interested in gaining for every aspect of their life. While some see this as a negative trait, I am indifferent. Is it annoying that I open my Facebook and see life complaints all over my newsfeed? Yes. But then again, it is my choice to be involved on such a site so I feel that I don’t have room to have issue. I think that all the books that we have read so far have the opposite views of our younger generation. As is life, the older generation sits on their ivory tower and judges the new kids as they develop and begin to make their mark on society. I feel like I can’t say this enough: Just because we don’t do things the same way that you did when you were our age, does not mean that we are any less of a population with any less brains then you had.

We can’t do anything right.

Carey Callaghan Bald


Question 4

I mean, I personally pay for the "experience" every time I go to a bar. I usually go during happy hour, but that is just because I'm poor. I think there is something to dressing up and going out with friends that adds to the experience. I also run into people that I wouldn't run into just drinking a beer in my own living room. Last night, for example. I didn't have a ticket to the basketball game. I did, however, have the ability to go to a bar and watch the game with the rest of the Hokie Nation. If that causes me to pay double to drink something there, but I get to band together with the rest of the "Hokie Nation," then bring it on.

I think the internet-based dating sites are a different situation though. People can meet online before they meet in person now, through Skype. Especially for the first date, people would probably pay to see someone online rather than meet them in person because of safety reasons. You hope the person you are talking to are who they say they are, but who knows these days. With this technology, you can also meet someone from across the country without leaving your living room. You can even dress up the top and be in pajamas on the bottom if this is a torso up conversation, which leads to more comfort.

However, there is something about being with another person face to face that helps to make that connection. My boyfriend is long distance, and we Skype often. But it's not the same as seeing him in person. I don't get to hold his hand or smell him, or kiss him; something that is important in building a relationship. I don't think the internet is something that will replace human contact, because we all crave human contact. I do think it is something that is a part of relationships these days, no matter what the context.

Megan Forbes


Question 3

I believe social media tools won’t replace real life. They are tools or options to use that offer other opportunities to engage socially with people with whom you wish to interact. I agree with Shirky’s assertion that social media tools are a part of real life. At school, a person joins a club or sorority to be with people who are like-minded or share some social value. This is a conscious decision to join those specific groups that help define who one is as a person. So, absolutely a person’s self perception is related to what groups one is involved. People understand that they are judged by the people they associate with so in the social media world it is no different. You like to interact with friends more so than casual acquaintances you make online. It is the same in the offline world. You hang out with your friends, but there are times when your close circle of friends expands either at a party, a school project or a larger social gathering. Online, a special announcement or piece of news will generate more comments and interaction. It is the same thing going on, it is just in a different format. It doesn’t replace live interaction, but it is a part of the real world.

Question 4

Paying for something is a decision that a person consciously makes. Whether the choice is to go to a basketball game or watch the same game on television, the question becomes a matter of value. Staying at home, even with someone, and watching it on television may be convenient and worthwhile, but going to the game, with the atmosphere and the lively crowd, is more fun and it was something one can be paid for. If you stayed at home, you know what the experience is going to be whereas you don’t know what to expect by attending the game and there is a bit more excitement.

I don’t believe that the online world will ever replace face- to-face interaction because people are social and it is in their nature to want to interact. The internet offers another option in social interaction. If the internet option is something worth paying for and a person finds it to be satisfying, they will pay for it. A person can use the internet social option as an additional source or enhancement for their social interaction. You might meet (online) someone who shares an interest in something and the most convenient method of interacting is via a website because it offers worldwide access. not just local access. A person can develop a “friendship” with someone this way but it may only be specific to the site. For a relationship to develop, direct interaction is much more important. Doing things online is a way of staying in control as I can always just logoff. Face-to- face is taking more of a chance in that there are fewer elements of a relationship that you can control. So for some people who are very shy or afraid, the online world offers them a way to stay in their comfort zone. They find that the online world is more satisfying and will pay for it. Others who find that the internet offers another option in social interaction will use a site specifically for that and if they find it satisfies a need, they too will continue to pay for it. So, I’d say that for the great majority of people, the internet does not replace face-to-face interaction.

Brittany Hansen


Question 4

I do not think the internet can ever fully replace face-to-face interactions. Even with technology like Skype, which allows you to feel like you’re in the same room as a person who may hundreds or thousands of miles away, there is a limit to how it can replace “real” interactions. For example, it is great for talking to a single person or maybe even a couple but if my friends were having a party, I would not want to be there only via Skype. Watching and listening to the party via an internet connection feels completely different from actually being at the party and enjoying the atmosphere. I think it basically boils down to the experience that you are looking for, because clearly this technology has a lot of great benefits but it still has limits. I think we, as humans, are willing to pay a slight upcharge (for example going to a bar to get a couple beers even when it may be cheaper to drink at home) if we believe that the total experience will be worth it. There is no doubt that drinking in a bar full of people is more fun than drinking at home alone, but it not merely a function of alcohol. The bar atmosphere, particularly after an awesome basketball win over the number one team in the country (!), provides a sense of camaraderie which cannot be found in the digital universe. There is something undeniable about being the same physical space and celebrating the same thing which cannot be replicated online, possibly because the world-wide community is simply too large. There will always be detractors online.

Ted Brasfield


Question 4

When Shirky discussed “amateur sharecropping” (59) with the parallel of bar owners charging more for beer, I thought of the way YouTube users put up videos for free. But I can think of a couple users; comedians, makeup artists, bloggers who actually get picked up by companies, and paid for advertising—the YT member has followers that companies wish to grab. I always felt it was the strangest mixing of “real” and “online,” so maybe users contribute to amateur media for chances to become known, and not just to share. That would make it differ a little from a bar-owner charging for the “value that is created by the customers for one another” (58).

But that companionship apparently means more to people than a drink at home. In terms of online replacements, I have to bring up the launch of gamecrush.com, where guys pay girls to play video/computer games with them.

The co-founder Eric Strasser claimed, "It's the same as if you're in a bar buying someone a drink. What do you use to get to know someone? A drink. We're just trying to replace the drink with the game." (http://www.walletpop.com/2011/01/22/gamecrush-now-allows-gamers-to-play-women-for-free/)

It’s a really interesting idea, and apparently it actually became pretty popular. That’s even more isolating than online dating sites, unless gamers decide to meet each other, which could happen. But I also think that, regarding those particular gamers, they might not likely have gone out in the first place to a bar and bought a girl a drink, so is gamecrush really replacing that for them? I think instead it gives them an option they never had before—broadens the scope, essentially. I mean, we still somewhat look down on online dating; I can’t see it replacing real-life interaction, because that is something valued too highly by society, although we can certainly append it, such as the makers of gamecrush.com did.

Shannon Yen


Question 4

Having a chance at an experience is very valuable. For the bar example, many students have two choices for drinking on their Saturday nights; go out and drink or stay in and drink. While there is no guaranteed adventure waiting for us outside the walls of our apartment, we still would rather go out just for the chance. When we stay in, we know the limits of our night, we can make educated guesses at how it will end, and we know who we are going to talk to and meet. But we are not looking for a controlled environment. Unfortunately, safety does not equal fun. We would rather believe that the night has no limits, and that the unexpected will be good. I for one always feel like I am missing out on something (even if I do not know what that “something” is) when I stay in. This fear is why I walk in the bitter of winter and pay double for drinks just to be at a bar with the same friends that I could have stayed in with.
Because we do not want a controlled environment, I do not think that the Internet can replace real-life interactions. The most notable example of an attempt at this is Skype. I like Skype and use it often, but the potential for it to better than face-to-face interactions is just not there. With Skype, friends hear what I want them to hear and see what I want them to see. That kind of control is ideal for wearing a mask, but I do not need to wear a mask for my friends. The best times I have with them are when they notice something that I did not plan on them noticing. Yesterday two of my friends got a kick out of a stain on my shirt that looks like a dinosaur. Yes, this is a random example, but within it I know that experience blossomed out of lack of control. The Internet may be limitless, but it puts limits on things like social interaction simply by letting you control it.
Think about immersion. We have the most control over it when using technology. I am no longer immersed in my music when I take my headphones out. I am no longer immersed in an online conversation when I look away from my screen. I can be taking fire from Axis forces in WWII only to have my roommate walk in and unknowingly remind me that I am sitting in my room playing video games. With the internet, staying immersed is a balancing act. We can use bigger monitors with high-definition graphics, we can buy noise-canceling headphones, but staying immersed is difficult. Technology will continue to try by stripping us of the senses of being at home and adding the senses of being out-and-about. Going out and doing the “real thing”, like being at a bar, means constant forced immersion. Do you know how to not be immersed at a bar? You put on your coat, you say bye to your friends, and you walk out. At bars, you never run the risk of suddenly “waking up” and discovering that you are all alone sitting at a computer screen. Yes, we gain a lot of control using the Internet for our social interactions, but we lose the ability to really immerse ourselves in the night.

John Del Terzo


Question 1

I think that it’s a bit of both – I can see how technology is a coping mechanism and can also see how it isn’t. For some people technology is a place to escape. All of the online games that we have today are a completely different world. Some people find this world to be an escape and log onto it to cope with whatever is going on in their lives. In this technology “world” people can be whoever they want to be, usually making up a name for themselves and becoming immersed in this “world.”

On the other hand I can see how technology is not a coping mechanism, but just a form of entertainment. I feel like I can relate to this more than using technology as a coping mechanism because I do not play video games and escape into the technology world. When I go on Facebook or watch TV I am doing it for the entertainment aspect, not to cope with something. If I had a bad day or am upset about something I’d go workout to relieve stress, not log onto a video game or Facebook.

Bottom line is I think everyone copes with things differently – some people cope by logging into technology while some people don’t.

Laura Nolan


Question 2

I definitely think people use social media to validate their lives. I think it’s human nature to want approval from others, and by making nearly every aspect of your life public, you leave your actions open to be judged. If users of social media didn’t want the attention they gain from posting aspects of their lives online, then I don’t think they would post those things online at all.

Jennifer Romeo


1. I would say both; technology allows us to connect with people we care about who live far away. With technology, we can form new networks, keep up to date with events all around the world, and even be employed. However, these ways to communicate with others have developed new coping mechanisms. Now we rely on technologies for most new actions and products we believe we need everything to be more available, accessible, and cheaper.
2. Being needed by others and by my job always gives me peace of mind. Knowing that someone relies on your presence and your work makes me feel like I am getting something done; more so than if I did it only for myself. Most people seem to feel better when needed, especially on a personal basis. If someone works mostly online and communicates with others mostly online, they must learn to make this contact suffice. The opinions of others do matter; we often need people to validate our actions and decisions. The more that people think we did something right means that we truly did.
3. I perceive myself in many different ways. An “alone” self exists, as does an “online” self, a “student” self, a “social” self, and a “trying to find a job” self. These selves all do form one person, but they definitely vary in behavior, thought, and confidence level. I would not be able to exist fully without all of these selves, and though it can get stressful, all the selves make me who I am.
4. I really hope that the internet and living “online” does not fully replace our personal contact and how we meet new people. Personal relationships mean something, meeting someone face to face for coffee means something more than meeting someone through e-mail or dating websites. We pay for coffee, beer, and sandwiches even though we could drink and eat at home because of the environment, the action, and the meaning of the action. It feels good to be around people, and sometimes it’s worth the cost for the company. –Rosalie Wind