A Human Connection

Contrary to what the amount of caffeine in my system dictates, I can’t help but stop and allow myself the brevity of a short pause’s worth of contemplation. It occurs to me that, much like the way I am now sitting in front of my lap top, (writing this post for your reading pleasure), engaging in some specific form of interaction with whoever reads this blog, there are millions of people scattered throughout the face of this planet, doing the exact same thing, and more than likely in a much more direct manner than I am doing right now. I can’t help but think that, not only are there millions of people out there doing the exact same thing, but the amount of time for which they have been doing the exact same thing is also more than likely a longer period of time (and I mean much, much longer) than the time I have taken typing this post. Surely, even as I finish typing this post and prepare for the day ahead, those same millions of people that were on their internet-accessible devices, interacting with other millions of people, will continue to do so and remain in that state for even longer periods of time.

So then comes the question: What is it about this entire meta of online social interaction that keeps us plastered to our seats, uploading the latest pictures of last night’s crazy shindigs or waiting for someone to respond to our posted frustration of “Fuck doing lab reports”? Why are we so preoccupied with letting the hundreds of friends we have on Facebook know that “I just drank my tenth cup of coffee and I am so wired!”? But most importantly, why must we do it so often, and for such extended periods of time?

Well, after careful consideration, I managed to construct a hypothesis of my own that, in a very subtle way, coincides with a couple articles I was able to find online. It is my hypothesis that, we are so attached (addicted if you will) to online social interaction because ultimately, as much as we love to deny it, we seek to make a connection, a human connection, with others. We hate to admit it, but we love the attention that we are given when someone responds to even the smallest aspect or details of our life – that is, the parts of our life that we willingly decide to portray on the web for the viewing pleasure of well, everyone.

It sounds simple, I know, almost too simple, but I believe it is true, or at the very least it is a major factor behind the reasons why we spend so much time on online social websites.

According to this rudimentary study on Facebook addiction, my suspicions are not unfounded. Although the conclusions drawn from this study are phrased differently, they intersect, even if only casually with my own hypothesis. Basically, if we were to categorize the people that we can say are addicted not just to Facebook, but to online social networks in general, we would find a distinguishable pattern among this group of people. Things like a connection to neurosis and extraversion as mentioned by Dr. Andreassen and colleagues, as well as its prominence among individuals of a young age.

All of these things can be ultimately tied in to our constant need of attention and our need to distinguish ourselves from everyone else. We strive to make a human connection because well, we are weak and frail creatures that need to feel a sense of solidarity with the people that form part of our lives and more. We gain a sense of satisfaction and reward when someone comments on, or “likes” something we post. It’s arguable, but the truth is that the great majority of us wouldn’t be able to live without that connection, that feeling that assures us of our existence and relevance to other people’s lives – that feeling that we are sure is keeping us sane. And therein is the irony of our lives: that the very concept we created to maintain our sanity is the the same thing that is driving us to our insanity.

So that’s that. Why do you think we are so attached to the online social network enigma? Rain your thoughts on me.

Also, ladies, I found this interesting article online that you might want to check out. I can’t wait to see what you think about that.

Apple users are smarter, more attractive, and make more money

According to a report from Nielsen/NetRatings, Mac users are better educated and make more money than PC-users. If you disagree, you’re likely unintelligent and unattractive (according to a report from me).

In fact, certain cultural commentators (aka this random guy from my online Poli-Sci course) such as Ryan Rivera have even claimed that possession of an Apple product increases one’s sexual desirability:

However, why exactly do we buy Apple? Is it because Apple makes us smart and sexy? Or is it simply because Apple has become a status symbol in today’s culture?

Examples like ‘phone on the table’ students and wannabe iPhone users (see cartoon) are two examples of how Apple has obtained a cult-like following.

In fact, the cultural phenomenon is to the point where people can’t even justify their own rationale behind buying new Apple products. See Neil Katz’s response to the iPhone 5.

Katz is a longtime Apple supporter who has “bought just about everything Apple’s made since the Apple II Plus came out in 1979.”

He announced to the world that he would “probably be standing on line [sic] with millions of other Americans buying an iPhone 5. Only this time, I won’t really know why.”

Given that buying Apple seems to be the default option when it comes to getting a new phone or a new laptop, have we been culturally conditioned into preferring Apple?

What are your thoughts? Is Apple a status symbol? Is it perhaps something more? Or perhaps this dialogue is overblown and you’d simply prefer a good laugh. Look no further than “Sh*t Apple Fans Say”:

Information & Identity?

Hello World!

Branching off from jabong1’s blog, information technology is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society. We use gigabytes of data in our everyday lives for work, school, and play. You wouldn’t be able to read this very blog if it wasn’t stored on the cloud!  As such, more and more research is being devoted towards optimizing the way we store our information. Being curious, I recently came upon an article barely released just 31 days ago. “700 terabytes of data into a single gram” of DNA; a lot of people have a hard time using up just one terabyte! The very notion of using DNA to store data opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

DNA already serves as a blueprint for living organisms to exist. As such, we all have a different DNA sequence that makes each one of us unique from one another. Would it not be logical then, to utilize DNA towards storing information that make up our identity? The movies we’ve seen, the music we love, the moments we share… people will argue that all our different experiences in being alive makes up a gigantic portion of our identity. It is no surprise people love to share their experiences through social media such as twitter and facebook in order to express their identity and feel alive in the online community. If this data was stored in our DNA (and we had the ability to extract it), it would be simple to share with our friends at school or to start up a conversation with someone whom you are interested in meeting.

Research on DNA data storage could lead to DNA data-extracting-scanner-type-machines in the future.  It will change the way we do things on the day-to-day basis. The idea of scanning your skin at airports, banks, or in place of a driver’s licenses would make things much more convenient and easier for us to do than having to remember to carry around every little piece of important documentation. It also helps with taking attendance in schools and in meetings and could help keep a log of hours spent on certain jobs or activities. Since DNA replicates when cells divide, people will never have to worry about misplacing their important data and information.

An important issue with this, however, is that using DNA to store information may not be very safe and secure. A person could easily get their hands on another’s DNA by obtaining a lock of their hair or a piece of a fingernail. Because every single cell in our body contains a copy of our DNA, we could have millions of DNA strands just lying around our homes or on the streets just waiting to be picked up! On the extreme level, people might do something as extreme as cutting up a corpse to access the individual’s information when he/she was alive (a whole new meaning towards identity theft!!).

Getting to the point, the concept of identity is who we are as individuals. People are “ever-changing and in constant communication with each other,” as Turkle mentions in her article, “Looking Toward Cyberspace: Beyond Grounded Sociology.” Who we are with friends differs from who we are with our families. New ways to make friends and network with people have changed the way we view our relationships. Being anonymous gives people courage to act like a**holes online where they would be looked down upon out in the real world society, acting like hypocrites, or acting like someone they aren’t. However, it also allow us more freedom to express our personal views and opinions on topics of major concern. We laugh, we cry, we are sometimes highly motivated, and other times disappointingly lazy. Putting on a myriad of different faces is just a part of our human nature, and all these different faces make up our identity.

Although it is an amazing concept to be able to use DNA to store a perhaps infinite amount of data occurring in our everyday lives, I, personally, do not believe that it to be plausible to go as far as use DNA to keep information about our identification. Though, it definitely makes the future all the more interesting.