We know now that technology has played a part in how humans have been evolving but for most of human history, technology was "tangible" -- wood, iron, plastic, silicon. Now, it is a world of 0s and 1s -- a cyber-spread of binary weaves filled with exciting information veiled as "experience" and "knowledge." It has become as intrecate part of who we are and has been redefining what is means to be human. How could a cber life, punctuated with emoticons of shouts, laughter, rage and chuckles have the power to slant who you are and who you will become?
But even in cyberspace, it seems you cannot really escape the rules of nature. Do not look at the fine print when you signed up in any social networking site because it is not there. But you are subject to it whether you agreed to it or not. It is the proverbial nature-nurture tug-o-war being played out in a cyberlab of human relationships and this is how it may be working.
I can understand how young people could find social networking very attractive and even addicting. Being on those sites gives you a constant audience for all your whoa s, grunts and sighs which is especially reassuring if you are young and not so.... I have not forgotten the youthful thrill of getting to know people and knowing yourself more through new friendships. I can also even understand how otherwise very reserved people could suddenly be so ready to inform others of their activities and whereabouts in click-speed. But I really find it hard to understand how others could treat it as a substitute for life, for the raw unbearable goodness that a string of 0s and 1s could never endow our humanity. I think Greenfield flagged a very good point of comparison between reading a novel and being in a social networking site when Wintour quoted her as saying: "Unlike the games to rescue the princess, where the goal is to feel rewarded, the aim of reading a book is, after all, to find out more about the princess herself."
I think social networking sites have also redefined the Asian concept of "face." Whereas before, any "scandal" could cause you to wish you had another face, being a "face" in a cyberbook could offer you other "faces" to wear when one gets "scarred." Whether that is a bad or good thing is rooted in what technology is - it is a double-edge sword, held by the complex nature of a Homo sapience armed with a click of button.
But if you think that you are a wholly held ransom by social networking sites, you should know abut a study done by scientist who found that our "genetic traits" also play a role in shaping these flipping worlds of cyberspace that we turn by our keystrokes. The study is called "Model of genetic variation in human social networks" by James H. Fowler at etc...
In summary, their study showed that several individual traits that shape the networking sites are genetic. If a social networking site were a building, think of these elements as the "foundations" : "how many times a person is named as a friend" (in-degree) and a "the likelihood that two of a person's contacts are connected to each other" (transitivity). The study showed that these foundations were largely influenced by genes.
How did they determine this? They used identical twins as the experimental group and the non-identical twins as the control group. Identical twins share the same genes having come from the same egg. In the study, the identical twins largely scored the same in those two "foundation." This provides good evidence of the pull of nature at work - you very own genes affecting your own choices. This means that the way you behave or misbehave in a site could not be solely influenced by the technology freedom the site offers you but also of your own genetic factors which influence your own "sociability" as a person. It means that if you were, like me, born to gravitate to a close circle of friends more that to a wide universe of emoticon-sending people (sincere and casual alike) then that is you will behave, whether if social network or in an actual crowd of people in four dimensions.
Indeed, the worlds shaped by 0s and 1s are continually shaping who your are as a human being. But you also meet technology's chisel with you inner biological shaping tools, the letter of your DNA:ATCG. They too influence your choices to tag him, invite her, share the connection, play the game, Darwin will still see that it is still nature in a face-off with nurture as it has always been since life began. They are still at it but this time is a game of CLICK....


kompi21 said... @ March 24, 2009 at 8:32 PM

good article.. :)

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