By Bhaswati Chattopadhyay
The entire crowd at Coolidge Corner Theater sat at the edge of their seats and leaned in to hear the arguments Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg pitched for greater women’s representation in the workplace. In the sold-out WBUR event last Thursday, Sandberg discussed with interviewer Robin Young her national bestseller, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
The enthusiastic crowd consisted largely of professional women already carrying copies of Lean In for the subsequent book-signing. Many already appeared to be sold on Sandberg’s message — unsurprising, as Sandberg has established herself as a strong voice in the business community. Consistently featured on international lists of “Most Influential Women,” Sandberg gained a massive fan following after a 2010 TED Talk on “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders.”
Her book, her nonprofit organization, and the discussion all serve as a call to action for women to “lean-in” in order to truly lead in a male-dominated world where women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, and only hold about 14 percent of executive officer positions in the United States.
While acknowledging that many challenges women face are institutional and there must be an effort from men in power to work against prejudice, Sandberg asserted that the “best way to reform an institution is to run it.” The problem lies in the lack of encouragement women receive to be leaders.
Sandberg explained that these problems stem from gender stereotyping that start at early childhood. Citing shirts told by major retailers for babies featuring the words “Smart like Daddy” and “Pretty like Mommy,” she said the pigeonholing doesn’t stop there.
“We’re held back by sexism, discrimination, and terrible public policy, but we’re also held back by the stereotypes,” she said. “Go to any playground and you’ll hear little girls called ‘bossy.’ You won’t hear little boys called bossy, because we expect boys to be assertive. Lean In is trying to change that – instead of calling our girls bossy we should say ‘my daughter has executive leadership skills.’”
However, even women who break past these initial barriers and discouragement aren’t given the same credit as men are. Sandberg cites research that reveal how women are more likely to attribute their own success to “working hard, help from others, and luck,” while men credit their own “core skills.”
Additionally, the negative perception of strong women continues onto the professional world, where intelligent, assertive men are praised as “leaders,” while women with the same traits are deemed “bossy.”
According to Sandberg, the best way individual women can counteract the discrimination is to not tolerate subtle condescension or inequalities. She urged women to be more confident in their skills, to negotiate for higher wages and positions, and to demand equal treatment. Women are capable of making these changes by themselves. Quoting Alice Walker, Sandberg said that “[t]he most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
While Sandberg’s message is very simple to follow, it has garnered considerable criticism, especially from women who otherwise support women occupying more leadership positions.
Young described one of these view points: “There are people who think that in saying that women need to lean in more and claim their place at the table that you are blaming them.”
Sandberg argued that her message had no such intention and that encouraging women to take control of their destinies ultimately empowers them to no longer depend on a huge shift in social attitudes to occur before they can make a difference.
Following the interview an audience member raised another point of controversy when she noted that many of her otherwise like-minded colleagues cannot relate to the “Lean in” message because of additional struggles women of different socioeconomic, resources, opportunities, and ethnic origins face.
The question prompted me to consider the situation from the following perspective: “How much can working class women of color truly benefit from advice given by a billionaire COO with two Harvard degrees?”
Sandberg handled these tough questions with considerable grace. Thankfully, she did not attempt to argue against the fact that she was incredibly privileged.
“I don’t think that I can address every issue and it would be dishonest for me to try. I’m lucky and I know that. But what can I do with that luck? Do I not have some responsibility to make a difference with the resources and position I have?”
She added that the many arguments she raised in her book could easily apply to any group that has faced historic oppression and has not been empowered yet.
Nevertheless, this criticism is valid. It is indeed an oversimplification that “leaning in” will work for all women equally. Sandberg’s message is, in many ways, reminiscent of “second-wave” feminist rhetoric that did not fully take the intersectionality of race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation into consideration.
It’s refreshing to see someone with of that position and influence proudly identify as a feminist. On the long run, however, Sandberg’s message, like the greater feminist movement, must “lean in” towards greater inclusivity to truly lead in equality.
By Devon Delfino, Staff Writer
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Facebook plans on adding hashtags, the use of the pound symbol followed by a word or words, to its site.
It’s hard to believe that the hashtag, in its Twitter use, is less than six years old. It was originally introduced to organize tweets and track trending topics, when Chris Messina tweeted, “how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?”
But hashtag usage has been mangled into something much more annoying. Within the past five and a half years or so, the evolution in use has gone from functional to bordering on the absurd.
The hashtag’s overexposure has even led to a namesake baby, little Hashtag Jameson, born in November of last year, a controversy which sparked debate about the level of integration that the internet and social media have on our lives.
I’ve often seen tweets composed solely of hashtags, (a.k.a ‘hashrash’), or the use of #hashtag, or the use of hashtags on Facebook (in case you didn’t notice, it doesn’t work; in fact, the hashtag becomes as useful as any other symbol on your keyboard outside of Twitter or Instagram).
This last misuse prompted the founding of the Facebook page, “This is not Twitter. Hashtags don’t work here,” as well as multiple Youtube video rants about improper hashtag usage. There is even a Twitter etiquette page on hashtags.org that reminds Twitter users that “Peppering your tweets with too many hashtags is not only defeating the purpose of a hashtag but also very annoying to see. Expect to get unfollowed when you do this.” But some of use still don’t seem to grasp this concept.
I hope I’m not the only one who grimaces a bit with the news of the addition of hashtags to Facebook. Twitter has always been a public broadcast network, and hashtags have only helped the site increase functionality; Facebook, however, has always been a more private and intimate means of social interaction. Hashtags make sense in a news-based context, but putting them on a social networking site can only further commercialize it.
By By Olivia DeFrances, Staff Writer
This year on Feb. 10, the 55th Grammy Awards will take place, featuring some of some of the best music of the year as well as live performances. But there’s been a twist this year: Through Facebook, fans also have the ability to nominate their favorite local bands for the chance to win a performance in L.A. during Grammy Live weekend. The finalists from each region of the U.S. have been chosen, and by Thursday we will know which local band or musician will have the breakthrough of a lifetime and will be able to perform during Grammy Live Weekend.
The finalists are as follows: for the Mid-Atlantic Region, a rock ensemble called Nasty Habit; for the Midwest, a mellow two man band called Alabama Capital; from the South Atlantic, outstanding vocalist Doria Roberts; from the Mountain region, Royal Bliss, a feel-good rock band; from the South, Within Reason, a rock band reminiscent of Hinder; and from right here in New England, an indie alternative rock band called Echo and Drake. Even if you’d never heard of these bands, as I hadn’t, they’re all worth checking out. I was impressed by the wide range of unique talent, and I’ll definitely be adding some of them to my playlist.
If you can decide on a favorite or are already a fan of one of the bands, you can vote on Facebook. But there’s only two days left – visit THE GRAMMYs Gig of a Lifetime page on Facebook to vote. May the best band win! Tune in to the Grammy Awards to see their performance.
A live performance by the New England finalist, Echo and Drake.
By Heather Goldin, Staff Writer
On Jan. 15, Mark Zuckerberg announced a new feature that goes far beyond the introduction of a Timeline or Newsfeed. The new feature, Graph Search, is a potential rival for competitors such as Google or even the typical online dating site such as eHarmony or Match.com.
Graph Search gives the user the option of sorting through pictures, places, people, and other interests. Graph Search also specializes in the ability to search with natural language, or a style that people use in everyday conversation. Examples include phrases like “the best coffee houses in downtown Boston” or “people in my city who enjoy rollerblading.” As if this new feature didn’t sound interesting enough, phrases such as “single men from California who attend Boston University” can also be searched, resulting in a long list of Facebook users who fit the search parameters.
Crazy? Yes. Creepy? Possibly. I think it could be used like a free version of online dating without the long sign-ups and required information. Facebook doesn’t need that information because you already put it on your Timeline.
Online dating is popular, which makes Zuckerberg’s interest understandable despite his statements from the founding of Facebook that the site would avoid being branded as an online dating site. It would definitely be a way to keep Facebook users online longer and away from other sites. More Facebook time is what Zuckerberg needs from users with the lack of growth in adding friends recently. The Facebook Team hopes that with Graph Search, users will be more drawn to adding friends faster, a necessary variable of Facebook’s functionality.
For now, the Graph Search is not yet a threat to other search engines, since it’s still in its beginning stages. Currently, the possibilities of Graph Search are extremely limited and only available in English. In addition, Facebook is the only site Graph Search uses to function, which limits its resources as a search engine. Since it uses user’s “likes” to provide answers for searches, it might not be up to date. Users are bound to have liked something in the past that they no longer like, or to keep activities that they no longer participate in posted on their timeline.
On one hand, Facebook’s new feature appears harmless to bigger sites, but if the loyal users of Facebook jump on board with the new feature they will soon be spending more time on Facebook to update those outdated interests and likes. When Graph Search finally makes its debut, maybe think twice about allowing Graph Search to have access to your data. If you do, remember to update your likes. Otherwise you might end up with a friend request based on a common interest in that band you liked in middle school.
By Amira Francis, Staff Writer
Type “Texting turns 20” into your state-of-the-art iPhone, the search engine on your laptop at home or your easily transportable iPad, and what will you find? You will be reminded that something we pretty much all take for granted wasn’t always alive and functioning for your convenience.
As a 90s kid, I’ve grown up with a lot of things my parents never had. In fact, I didn’t even realize that my parents lived without these things until I was much, much older. A world without snap chatting? Please.
In all seriousness, though, it can be nice to stop and take a moment to appreciate all of the commodities that fill today’s social life. And it can be humbling to think about all of the ways that life would be different without technology. What would our social lives be like?!
Certainly, without technology, information would travel a lot more slowly. You wouldn’t know the news that your cousin is having a baby without the excited phone call, you wouldn’t hear that your uncle is getting divorced again without the self-righteous Facebook status. Although, hey—maybe that would be a GOOD thing. I mean, half of us receive our social information through Facebook stalking. How healthy can that be?
If we didn’t have technology, it might actually strengthen relationships. Nowadays, the fact that you sent a letter to your dad or reached out to your long-lost best friend through carrier pigeon means everything to them. It would certainly clear out your friend list if the only people who talk to you were the ones who really wanted your company. And yes, everyone loves saying that they have tons of friends, and maybe technology even convinces them that they do have tons of friends, but sometimes it’s good to know the fake friendships from the real ones. A lack of technology would filter out the bad relationships and strengthen the good ones.
If there were no technology, it might also make you (and society) more productive. Wait, what? More productive? Well, no, not in some ways. For example, with that research project you need to do, does the teacher think you’re going to go to the lengths to retrieve all of your information from the good ol’ library and its wonderful collection? Hell no. But think about all of the time you spend wasting on the Internet. What if that just wasn’t there?! What if you spent that time learning something you’ve always wanted to learn, or visiting somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit? Yes, it’s cliche. And yes, it’s worth thinking about.
Mind you, there are plenty of things that technology makes you thankful for. It’s difficult to feel isolated when surrounded by thousands of Facebook friends. You are always connected to the news, always connected to society, always connected to the world. Technology, of course, has simplified things in a lot of ways. And we should always be thankful for that. I would just say: be careful about over-using these miraculous technological inventions. Don’t break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend through texting, don’t make all of your friends through the Internet and don’t become a recluse because you’re addicted to Tumblr. Life is full of many important, invigorating experiences. Appreciate technology, but get out there and enjoy what’s around you, too.
Oh, and happy birthday, texting.
By Heather Goldin, Staff Writer
Ok, social network world, it’s time to straighten some things out. You are scrolling through the homepage when suddenly three consecutive friends have the same bogus status update declaring their Facebook content unavailable for commercial use. Tone down your ego and your panicking, Facebook isn’t going to try and own your stuff just because they make a few policy changes. Admittedly, I might have almost fell for this scam myself (almost). In case you’re still unsure of what is truth and what is web hoax, I have debunked some of the most common myths for you.
Myth 1: Because Facebook is now a public company I need to post a written message on my wall verifying that I own all the content I post.
Fact 1: You will always be the owner of the content you post to Facebook, but you essentially lease it to the company when you sign up. Giving written protection through a status will do nothing because by having an account, you have agreed to let the company use what you post for commercial purposes. This is all stated in the terms of service agreement. If you ever find the time to read through these, try to decipher the legal jargon because we all know you didn’t when you signed up.
Myth 2: It is impossible to keep my content from being used for commercial purposes.
Fact 2: Let me introduce you to a little concept called privacy settings. Under this handy Facebook tab, you can control what information the applications you sign up for can view and use. Granted, you won’t be able to use some of the applications if you don’t want to share the required information. However, you have more control over who can view your Facebook activity or personal information. You can also set your profile to private, which means that most of your content won’t be visible unless you friend someone or give an app permission to use your information.
Myth 3: Facebook will take away my (recently discovered) ability to vote on policy changes.
Fact 3: There is some truth to this one, but the rest I need to clear up. Although it is true that Facebook is taking away the right of Facebook user’s suffrage, the right to vote on policy change hasn’t been exercised largely in the history of the vote since it’s introduction in 2009. The proposal is to supposedly create a better feedback system for policy change. In short, you have until 9 a.m. PST on Nov. 28 to comment on the proposed changes, and following the commenting period there will be a live chat with Erin Egan, the Chief Privacy Officer of Policy for Facebook, who will respond to questions and comments about the proposed policy. For more details, check out the Facebook Site Governance Page.
Check out College Humor’s funny and informative video on Facebook law for idiots.
Hopefully this information clears things up a bit. And remember kids, don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.
By Jasmine Ferrell, Staff Writer
All the world’s a stage. The often over-used quote (which I realize I just used) proves to be more and more true with technology. The world has turned into an ever-rotating stage with cameras pointed in all directions. “Boston T People,” a Facebook page where people post pictures of interesting T riders, is clear evidence.
It’s like “People of Walmart,” only it’s so localized that maybe even you could recognize a person. Embarrassing? Cruel? Some people think so. After scrolling through comments on a recent Metro article, the people against the “Boston T People” page seem to have the majority, expressing their similar views that all in all, this page is pretty shitty. “S***ty doesn’t begin to cover it,” a commenter said. But not everyone feels the same. A quick visit to the page reveals more than 5,000 likes since it was created Sept. 20.
The creator emphasized that this isn’t illegal in anyway, and she said she even discussed it with an MBTA spokesman for approval, saying she refused to post pictures of the mentally or physically handicapped.
It’s important to keep in mind the bitter truth that we humans might not like to admit: We judge people. Shocking, I know. “Boston T People” visualizes what the large majority of people would think is strange or weird. We question somebody carrying around a blow-up doll. Why carry that around if you want to be noticed?
One man who agreed to be photographed was Davide with his wife Clara, the mannequin. I’d say he enjoys the attention. Other photos are of people dressed outrageously or arguing at extreme volumes. They have to expect that they’ll be noticed. No one has a right to total privacy in public. And oftentimes the comments on the photos remain harmless and merely claim a man is an Albert Einstein look-a-like. Who could be offended by that?
When taking a gander at this page, realize it provides just what it offers. It’s not as much of an artistic perspective on life as is Humans of New York, but it’s not quite as distasteful as People of Walmart. It’s a humorous documentation of the variety of life in once city. Expect only that and you will be satisfied. In the end, it’s all just a joke. And if you show up on the site, at least be able to laugh at yourself.
By Leah Calderon, Features Staff Writer
What is the tallest mountain in the world? Who is the fastest man alive? What is the capital of Bangladesh? Where are you going to go to answer these questions? Let me guess… Google?
You and around 82 percent of all other Americans. Google has become the master of all search engines, it’s the go-to instant-answering agent and a most reliable sage of knowledge, presenting any gamut of answers within seconds. But would you believe that Google is the most popular tech company in the United States—even more popular than Facebook?
A new study shows that although people these days are constantly on their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and every other social-networking site possible, Google reigns over them all in popularity.
Our generation is practically overwhelmed by technology. From iPhones to iPads and Macbooks, we have search engines attached to us wherever we go, and Google can provide an answer for just about anything in a matter of seconds to satisfy our curious minds. What does Facebook have on that?
An ABC/Washington Post poll asked over 1,000 adults which tech company they found most favorable and which ones they found most unfavorable. Around 82 percent found Google the most favorable tech company over Apple, Facebook and Twitter. Another 53 percent even found the company “strongly” favorable. Most of the Google fans came from the younger age groups, who calculated at a strong 92 percent favorabilty for the popular search engine. College graduates clocked in at about 88 percent favorability, while the general public ranged around 66 percent.
Google only had about 9 percent unfavorability, which is surprising given the organization owns so much. What is even more interesting is that while we often label current generations as the “social-networking obsessed” generation, Twitter’s voters surprised everyone by voting it as more unfavorable than favorable. An almost equivalent number didn’t care enough to vote either way.
But Google’s diversity, versatility and convenient features like Google+, Google Chrome, Google Mail, and the hot, new creation Project Glass, puts it light-years ahead from the rest of the pack. With the new Project Glass, Google aims at creating an “augmented reality platform which would bring the benefits of Google’s mapping and social networking into real-world experiences,” say company reports. For instance, Project Glass would allow its beholder to Skype at any moment, allowing the receiver on the other end to see through the eyes of the beholder.
But Larry Page, current CEO of Google, states he is incredibly satisfied with the success of Google’s features, but that is not the only thing he wants Google to be known for. In his published “Future Outlook” piece, he dedicates an entire section to the “love and trust” connection he hopes to establish with its users. He has been furiously working to improve Google’s features so that users can have the best experience possible.
“It’s all about speeding things up so users can get on with the things that matter in their lives. That’s what we aim for,” said Page.
By Christina Janansky, Features Staff Writer
Since its creation in 2004, Facebook has opened doors to new friendships, relationships and even jobs. However, recent studies show how Facebook might be responsible for a lot of the anti-social behavior and narcissism of our generation.
Christopher Carpenter, an assistant professor of communication at Western Illinois University, has revealed Facebook’s “dark side,” in his study “Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and Anti-social Behavior,” explains how Facebook causes “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance.”
Furthermore, it claims Facebook encourages “hundreds of shallow relationships,” promotes “emotionally detached communication,” and allows narcissists to control how they are presented to and perceived by other users, according to a press release.
In the study, Carpenter used a narcissistic personality inventory (NPI) survey to measure the Facebook-induced behaviors of 292 individuals, 75 percent of which were college students.
Observed behaviors included self-promoting activities such as making status updates, taking photos of one’s self, and updating profile information. The survey also measured the negative tendencies of Facebook users, like seeking social support more than providing it, becoming angry when others fail to comment on status updates and retaliating against negative posts.
Carpenter anticipated the grandiose exhibitionism (GE) subscale of the NPI survey would predict self-promoting behaviors like vanity, superiority, self-absorption and exhibitionist tendencies. Carpenter felt another subscale called the entitlement/exploitativeness (EE) could predict anti-social behaviors in each individual. EE behaviors include “a sense of deserving respect and a willingness to manipulate and take advantage of others,” as Carpenter explained.
Results of the study showed that the GE subscale did, in fact, correlate with self-promotion tendencies while the EE subscale correlated with anti-social behaviors in individuals using Facebook.
“Ideally, people will engage in pro-social Facebooking rather than anti-social me-booking,” said Carpenter. “In general, the ‘dark side’ of Facebook requires more research in order to better understand Facebook’s socially beneficial and harmful aspects in order to enhance the former and curtail the latter.”
In other words, (and in the words of Darth Vader): “You don’t know the power of the dark side.”