By Hannah Landers, Staff Writer
Burglary, arson and murder are all considered to be pretty terrible crimes, but one look at any number of ranting articles on the web could have one believing that there is no atrocity more heinous than that of the “selfie.” Yet they’re out there, and multiplying by the second.
Though the term itself has become a recent phenomenon, selfies have long been a staple of social media.
Come with me now to a simpler time, when Myspace reigned supreme in the kingdom of the internet. Ah, yes, I can see it now: the profile layout that you carefully selected after hours of scouring the web, that Dashboard Confessional song with just the right amount of angst for profile’s music player and, most importantly, your profile picture.
You spent time on that photo, if not in staging it then in scrupulously selecting it from all those photos you took at your cousin’s wedding where your hair looked, like, so good. Myspace gave us the selfie, and we all embraced that sweet little nugget of vanity in our arms like it had come from the holy womb of Kate Middleton herself.
In fact, if we really want to “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” this into the depths of history, any artist who has ever produced a self-portrait has engaged in the not-so-sacred practice of selfie-dom. Yes, these portraits vary in their realism (I’m looking at you, Van Gogh!) and require a certain level of artistry, but doesn’t every great selfie? Today, the tricks-of-the-trade are a soft-focus filter and a steady hand.
And really, vanity is the social media endgame no matter what you’re posting. Sure, your Instagram might not be flooded with photos of your face, but it’s still a collection of the things that you see, the things that you experience. No matter what you’re posting about on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram, it all comes down to the bare-bones fact that you’re commanding followers and strangers all across this great internet nation of ours to care about you.
Therefore, there’s nothing really so egregiously arrogant about wanting to share your cheesin’ mug with the rest of the world. Selfies should be something to praise, not to condemn. You’re looking and feeling good, and you should be encouraged to share that positivity with the rest of the world. Selfie on, Garth!
By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
We’ve all heard it—we’re in the electronic age. From finding out that our friends from home are engaged at 21 on Facebook, to following people on Instagram who have killer style (but they don’t even go here), or reppin’ some of the cutest DIY posts your friends have pinned for Thanksgiving.
The thing is, well, isn’t it kind of odd that people can see what we do and like what we’ve liked? It’s not for us, but if you think about it, it totally is. Even companies like Hulu and Facebook are getting real personal with advertising products and websites that are geared to what you like.
If you’re ready for another revolutionary advertising tactic, Japan has it for you. Neurocam and its new app were introduced at the Human Sensing 2013 conference in Yokohoma, Japan.
Advertisers can tell what we like based on a headband system that attaches to your head and holds an iPhone next to your temple. Hitting the soft spot, huh? Well, this headset knows you better than you know yourself with the help of EEG sensors.
The camera on the headset records whatever you’re viewing, so when you see those Jimmy Choos and can’t contain yourself, the sensors will pick up on those spikes of interest through the brain scan.
The spike value ranges from one to 100, so once the data gets to a value of 60, the EEG sensors will claim whatever you’re viewing as something of interest to you. That’s when the phone’s camera will start to record, in five-second GIFs, the image you’re viewing (like a Tardis teapot in commemorating the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary).
I told you it’s a little weird, right? Well, advertisers are going to use this to their advantage, which I don’t have too much of a problem with, but my wallet just might. Advertising titan Dentsu is supporting the Neurocam through Dentsu ScienceJam. They think it can help to determine what goods interest people and also help in urban development planning.
The thing is, when I see a commercial for the Kia Soul while I’m on YouTube and literally scream because I’m obsessed with those Kia hamsters, only I see this side of me. I don’t know how I would feel if Kia can actually see how many times I’ve watched the commercial because it’s right there on the screen when I’m browsing online. I’m sure they’ll keep showing the commercial to me until I buy the car…oops.
Don’t you just want to buy the car now? Yep, totes.
By Brandon Lewis, Staff Writer
Twitter’s been on a roll as of late. Last week, “the SMS of the Internet” went public and witnessed its shares rise 73 percent above the offering price on its first day in the stock market. It was a pretty amazing accomplishment, considering Facebook flopped during its public debut last year. Facebook’s shares rose only 0.6 percent.
I’m pretty sure Facebook’s top guns have put this day in the back of their minds. Since Twitter now has something to gloat about, the rivalry between the two is definitely heating up.
Twitter and Facebook are currently fighting over celebrity attention. Both want to make it easier for celebrities to create profiles and interact with their fan base. They believe a stronger celebrity presence will not only attract more users, but also engage them.
It’s important that more people sign up for accounts with Facebook and Twitter but if they’re not engaged, these users aren’t going to stay.
Twitter is often credited with breaking down the barrier between celebrities and their fans. Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake and Nicki Minaj can connect with the world by re-tweeting and favorite-ing their fans’ tweets. They could make someone’s dream come true by simply hitting the follow button on their fans’ pages.
However, it’s a different story while on Facebook. Celebs don’t have many options to address fans because their public profiles have certain limitations. They’re attempting to change this.
According to an article in Yahoo!, it looks like Facebook is going to launch a feature allowing the Jay-Zs and Lady Gagas of the world to better reach out to their supporters. Facebook hasn’t released any details on the new feature as of yet. It’s been hinted that the feature will “step on Twitter’s home turf.”
I don’t really pay attention to celebrities on Facebook, but when it comes to Twitter, I follow them religiously. I feel more connected when they tweet about their normal lives than on Facebook when their posts are more glamorized.
It’s also entertaining to watch celebrity feuds pan out on Twitter such as the recent feud between Kanye West and Jimmy Kimmel. You would never see something like this on Facebook. I love Twitter.
I’ll give Facebook the benefit of the doubt and wait to see what its new feature will offer. Whatever happens, I’m still #TeamTwitter.
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.