Friday, March 2, 2012

The Hawthorne Effect and Facebook

I laughed out loud (LOL - sorry, couldn't resist) when I read the section about the Hawthorne Experiment (pg. 10) in Lanham's "Stuff and Fluff," especially when considered in the context of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Lanham wrote, "when we are observed in our work, we socialize it" (pg. 10). I would argue that this "theatrical self-awareness" is exacerbated by websites such as Facebook, where some individuals actually allow how they believe people on Facebook would react to something control what they do or how they present themselves. It seems that climbing to the top of Mt. Everest is not enough for personal satisfaction alone, indeed if a photo of said person posing on the top of Mt. Everest is not attainable and able to be posted on Facebook (along with a tweet to cap things off) then a good portion of satisfaction from the experience is lost. It seems like because people know "everyone is watching" ("everyone" here meaning their Facebook friends and twitter followers) they carefully craft how they want to appear to others through what photos they post and what they choose to say online. Corresponding with this argument is Gleick's "On Internet Time" article where he discusses the "Simplify Your Life" movement (pp. 89-90). It seems like people are constantly trying to simplify and get back to nature in a sense, yet they go about doing this by consuming boundless amounts of networked media articles, hints, and tips on how to simply. And let's not stop there - one must also announce on Facebook and Twitter that one is simplifying his or her life and include Foursquare check-in's of shopping at Ikea and Bed Bath and Beyond for closet organizers and storage boxes (including photos of each new item purchased).

Below is an interesting graphic article on the "Facebook Effect," a.k.a, is social media ruining students? It argues both the positive and negative side of such social networking use. But, when students are heading to the library simply so they can post on Facebook that they are in the library (and then proceed to spend their time in the library reading their peer's reactions to such a post) I argue that we could have a problem (although the optimist in me would believe the majority of these students would actually get some studying accomplished).

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