Thursday, March 11, 2010

S03 - How much do windows really reveal?

I mostly agree with Danah Boyd when she explains that web sites like MySpace or Facebook help young people learn what is socially acceptable and what is not, making them more able to interact with their peers in the “real” world. However, what I find to be a problem is the fact that young people seem to learn more every day and yet they are becoming increasingly distant from each other. Chats, wall posts and private messages often seem to replace face-to-face contacts. I am wondering why we find less time (and possibly motivation) to interact with each other directly when we possibly have more social skills than we had before. In my opinion, online conversations can make us feel like we are maintaing the connection to someone, but no matter how often we talk, I still have the feeling that something is missing, something that not even web camera can replace. I am an international student and I have video calls with my family and friends on a daily basis, but I never fully understand how much they changed until I see them during the breaks. I agree that windows reveal vulnerability in many ways, but I also think that they never fully reveal what is behind them – we don't get to know the space fully through the window, it usually always conceals some part of the space from us. Yet, I do feel that windows make my life much easier and less stressful. I just don't think that windows can be replacement for spending time in the actual space, and, yet, that is the role they are often assigned.

The notion of rape in the virtual space was also very interesting. When I was younger I used various programs for online interaction, but I was never afraid that anything bad could happen. I never felt vulnerable. Strangers would talk to me and sometimes even tell me weird or insulting things, but I never took them seriously. For some reason, I was never angry, annoyed or hurt. It was all mostly amusing and when it started being boring, I would simply turn the chats off. I guess I never exposed myself enough to feel vulnerable. In addition, it would be enough for me to imagine someone sitting by a computer and trying to figure out the most insulting things to say to other people for me to start laughing. That is why it was hard for me to understand the notion of virtual rape in the beginning. I think windows expose us as much as we allow them. As soon as the window stops reflecting a shadow and starts reflecting a whole person, the person is running a risk of being hurt. On the other hand, learning to manage risks is the only way of learning the art of social interaction. That is why, as Danah Boyd points out, web sites for social interaction prepare us for the “real world”.

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