The E-Persona
January 12, 2011 5:48 AM   Subscribe

Separation Anxiety: "Now that there's no escaping the digital world, research is getting more serious about what happens to personalities that are incessantly on."
posted by zarq (42 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
There was an idea from Warren Ellis's "Transmetropolitian," where people could use their skeletal system as an antenna for their phones and online gear. I liked the idea at the time, because it meant I could always be connected.

Now that I'm almost, but not always connected, I LOVE the idea and thought you should know.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:57 AM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sure, we all had a good laugh at the time...but Homer Simpson was right.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:11 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Infinite Reality: Avatars, New Worlds, Eternal Life, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution (HarperCollins, to be published in April), he predicts that avatars "are going to qualitatively change the way people interact socially. Avatars offer the possibility of doing something perfectly, of self-presenting much more effectively."

'Self-presenting' as...the presentation of something other than the self. Neat!
posted by robself at 6:15 AM on January 12, 2011


He means us, guys. Especially you, buddy.
posted by Eideteker at 6:26 AM on January 12, 2011


Now that I'm almost, but not always connected, I LOVE the idea and thought you should know.
Actually, what we need is implants that can generate electricity directly from the glucose in our blood. Not only will we not have to carry chargers and find outlets, we'll but calories and never get fat!
posted by delmoi at 6:31 AM on January 12, 2011


Actually, what we need is implants that can generate electricity directly from the glucose in our blood. Not only will we not have to carry chargers and find outlets, we'll but calories and never get fat!

Wouldn't that encourage more eating though, in order to produce more electricity? Ex: "Oh man, in order to reach 100 FPS, I need to eat that box of donuts!"

Power management would still be super important.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:44 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


'Self-presenting' as...the presentation of something other than the self. Neat!

The biggest self of self is indeed self.
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:10 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Strategies to Maximize Your Solipsism
posted by Burhanistan at 7:30 AM on January 12, 2011


we'll but calories and never get fat!

yes are and if overweight!
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 7:49 AM on January 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Now that there's no escaping the digital world. . ."

Well, there is an escape, actually. Leave your phone at home and go outside. I, too, worry about what will happen to a generation of people who believe that it's necessary to be connected all the time, especially when, increasingly, that connection takes the form of tweets and status updates and text messages. Conversations are replaced by a disjointed sequence of 140-character missives, and brevity is valued above nuance or depth. People may be connected, but never really present in the moment.

I am not anti-internet but I think it means that everyone needs to make a conscious effort to carve out time for uninterrupted thoughtfulness, alone or with others.
posted by mai at 8:15 AM on January 12, 2011 [14 favorites]


whatever *refresh* this *recent activity* doesn't *twitter* really *Gmail* concern * Recent Activity* me *refresh*
posted by The Whelk at 8:18 AM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Actually, what we need is implants that can generate electricity directly from the glucose in our blood.

Done (#2 on the page), and done!
posted by AzraelBrown at 8:19 AM on January 12, 2011


> whatever *refresh* this *recent activity* doesn't *twitter* really *Gmail* concern * Recent Activity* me *refresh*

A crack smoker can joke about his habit but still have nasty burns on his lips from the broken glass pipe.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:21 AM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


A crack smoker can joke about his habit but still have nasty burns on his lips from the broken glass pipe.

You're right, there are much worse addictions than the internet.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:27 AM on January 12, 2011


Well, there is an escape, actually. Leave your phone at home and go outside. I, too, worry about what will happen to a generation of people who believe that it's necessary to be connected all the time, especially when, increasingly, that connection takes the form of tweets and status updates and text messages. Conversations are replaced by a disjointed sequence of 140-character missives, and brevity is valued above nuance or depth. People may be connected, but never really present in the moment.

Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story is a phenomenal book, and one of the things I liked best about it is the way it depicts a society where nobody's ever willing to unplug- so if you get together with your friends in a bar, one'll be livecasting about it while another one is status-updating about the Fuckability ratings of everyone in the place.
posted by COBRA! at 8:32 AM on January 12, 2011


Actually, what we need is implants that can generate electricity directly from the glucose in our blood.

Done (#2 on the page), and done!


Thanks, I've been meaning to research a post apocalyptic robotic vampire love story.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:39 AM on January 12, 2011


"While he knows that some people play too much, he believes that for many there are positive effects of extended play. He cites a study that showed that teens who play multiplayer games have more friends, lower Body Mass Index, and are more socially integrated."

That seems like a flawed measurement; sure, teens who play games have more "friends", but what is the depth of their friendship? Just because the kid who plays 4 hours of Warcraft a night has 500 Facebook friends, does that mean he/she actually knows any of them? Can said kid rely on any of these friends for anything more than a late-night raid or a pithy status update? To me, this says "People who spend time around groups of people know more people."

Also, the term "socially integrated" bugs me. I don't know the heuristics of the study, but if this kid and all his friends play the same game, of course he'll have more in common with a group of people. That allows the terms of the social network define the ideal.

Yes, it's important to belong, but the study seemingly ignores emotional depth in lieu of popularity.
posted by Turkey Glue at 9:09 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I imagine a future a couple of generations from now where the combined effects of the collapse of the American economy, peak oil, global climate change, et.al. have produced a world where the vast majority of people have never seen or used a computer, cell phone, video game, or any other piece of technology except the elderly (and the small enclaves of the rich elites). The younger people will have, out of necessity, returned to pre-technological culture, rediscovered the pleasures of community and shared experience, and will simply stare in complete pity and contempt of their grandparents who are hopelessly detached, distracted, and constantly agitated by a world that doesn't provide them with non-stop input.
posted by briank at 9:11 AM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I always check the Facebook status of the kids on my goddamn lawn before tweeting my indignation.
posted by Dmenet at 9:19 AM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I worry about the implications of a future generation permanently connected to my lawn.
posted by Zozo at 9:25 AM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I got 1.5 paragraphs in before I Googled something.
posted by zennie at 9:31 AM on January 12, 2011


As far as the multitasking goes, I've found that it seems like a symptom, not a cause. When I'm flipping mindlessly between tabs, looking for updates, there's a 90% chance it's because I'm stuck somewhere and bored, stressed out of my mind, or both (I am refreshing this page right now, for example, because I've got nothing to do at work and am frantically trying to make time go faster.)

When I'm feeling good, or I've got a task I find interesting, I feel no desire to use computers like this at all. I'm learning to code right now, for example, and am utterly monomaniacal--I can spend hours at a time working on a couple dozen lines. The online community, at these times, is an invaluable resource--I'd never have gotten anywhere without hundreds of forum posts and my CS-major friend on instant messaging.

As a final data point: I've had pretty serious depression for most of my life, and the times I've spent the most unfocused time online correlates closely to the worst periods. It's not that I use a computer less when I'm worse, it's that depression makes it difficult to do anything but the most basic tasks, and surfing the Internet/grinding in games, rather than seriously reading or creating, counts as one of those. Same goes for a friend of mine.
posted by Tubalcain at 9:34 AM on January 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


The Borg Begins
posted by crapmatic at 10:10 AM on January 12, 2011


According to a Nielsen study, the average 13- to 17-year-old now deals with 3,339 texts a month.

What?! Is this for real? HOW?
posted by heyho at 10:11 AM on January 12, 2011


What?! Is this for real? HOW?

The average 13-17 year old is in High-school/Middle-school. It's easy.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:13 AM on January 12, 2011


ur jst 2 slo
posted by Babblesort at 10:15 AM on January 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


The younger people will have, out of necessity, returned to pre-technological culture, rediscovered the pleasures of community and shared experience, and will simply stare in complete pity and contempt of their grandparents who are hopelessly detached, distracted, and constantly agitated by a world that doesn't provide them with non-stop input.

This is no going back. Humans are social and long for connections. If the world collapses, one of the goals of rebuilding will be to establish the web and social media again. I'm utterly convinced that there will come a time when all humans will be connected, even the Amish and similar groups. It will become too cheap and too easy to not do it. Like the American equivalent of needing a Social Security card to participate in society, being always connected will just be a simple fact of life.

This won't be universally good or bad, it'll depend on the situation and use.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:16 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


3,339 texts per month...

I'm also thinking of this (o_O) in terms of the amount of money cellphone service providers likely raked in for overages before the customers switched to unlimited texting... Appalling to think about.
posted by heyho at 10:24 AM on January 12, 2011


> The younger people will have, out of necessity, returned to pre-technological culture...

This is basically what James Kunstler is hoping for.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:33 AM on January 12, 2011


the times I've spent the most unfocused time online correlates closely to the worst periods

Yep, this has been true for me, too...although sometimes I find it goes the other way: if I "put away" the email/twitter/mefi/etc then I force myself to DO SOMETHING, and that helps. (Very CBT, that.)

Also, I just glanced at the title and now I feel eponysterical. ;)

Mr epersonae came up with my nom-de-internet in 1998 or '99. My actual name starts with the letter "e" and I've been writing stories since I was a little girl, so he though the combination of "personas/personae" with the "e" would be a cute domain name. It's a b*tch to spell out over the phone, though.
posted by epersonae at 10:36 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've already forgotten what this is about... Besides, isn't it already too late?
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 11:10 AM on January 12, 2011


How blithely ironic for Stanford magazine to publish a hand-wringing piece about the perils of overconnectedness, as if the smart-asses at Menlo Park had nothing to do with landing us into this morass in the first place. Et tu, Stanford! ET TU?
posted by bicyclefish at 11:33 AM on January 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


What is it that makes people feel they need to communicate with their friends constantly? Alienation? Boredom? Insecurity?
posted by mareli at 11:45 AM on January 12, 2011


Conversations are replaced by a disjointed sequence of 140-character missives, and brevity is valued above nuance or depth.

That's one way to look at it, but I have always loved texts for their poetry and will be sorry when the constraint of 140 characters is lifted.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:50 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


You have checked in at Zozo's Lawn!
posted by Joe Chip at 1:01 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


mareli What is it that makes people feel they need to communicate with their friends constantly? Alienation? Boredom? Insecurity?
Also positive emotions, eg love, group membership, camaraderie. The same reason that literal birds of a feather, literally flock together. We have strong instinctual drives to be with others of our kind ("kind" can be redefined for us from time to time, and probably is even for birds), and to fear being away from others of our kind.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:10 PM on January 12, 2011


What is it that makes people feel they need to communicate with their friends constantly? Alienation? Boredom? Insecurity?

Yes? Welcome to middle school.
posted by RedEmma at 2:07 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is it that makes people feel they need to communicate with their friends constantly? Alienation? Boredom? Insecurity?

Cookies. I need someone to share these cookies with.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:13 PM on January 12, 2011


What is it that makes people feel they need to communicate with their friends constantly?

Ummm. Because it's there. Because all the difficult challenges have been overcome and only the impossible challenge of understanding each other beckons.
posted by Twang at 3:26 PM on January 12, 2011


What is it that makes people feel they need to communicate with their friends constantly?

I don't know about communication, but when it comes to constant status updates, etc, narcissism plays a part. It's not so much that Narcissus was in love with his reflection, but rather he would cease to exist without it.

Five billion earthlings have cell phones.

Does this number sound wrong to you? Because it is. There are five billion cell phone subscriptions in the world. This does not equal five billion people with cell phones

Here's another number for you:

In 2001, 1.1 billion people had consumption levels below $1 a day and 2.7 billion lived on less than $2 a day.

*sigh* I'm glad MetaFilter's here when the neo-Nazi types chase me off of reddit. I'm not kidding, unfortunately. I just wish you guys would figure out a way to sort your comments more clearly. The big threads are hell to slog through. One troll can scramble a whole thread.
posted by viborg at 6:11 PM on January 12, 2011


According to a Nielsen study, the average 13- to 17-year-old now deals with 3,339 texts a month.

What?! Is this for real? HOW?


Presumably they're counting 3000 twitter messages that got ignored or glossed over.
posted by atbash at 6:21 PM on January 12, 2011


>What is it that makes people feel they need to communicate with their friends constantly? Alienation? Boredom? Insecurity?

Yes? Welcome to middle school.


This is exactly the problem. At this vulnerable age, the slightest variation between the relative difficulties of different activities makes a huge difference. And when I say difficulty, I mean the amount of mental and physical effort it takes to receive a psychological reward. You see this when students, who were formally just plain "good students," enter middle school.

Suddenly they're getting As and Bs in English, Science, and Band, but failing Math and Spanish. Suddenly, these are seperate things. The bell rings, and they have to go to the next class. It's a new teacher, who is slighly less tolerant of tardiness, or sloppy homework, or slightly more generous with grading, or extra credit, or assigning homework. Or it's something that's just hard, like Math or a foreign language, and it takes a lot of work. They're not natural musicians or writers, and they get behind. It's hard to do well reading Proust if you can't master Dick and Jane. So they redefine themselves as band kids, or theatre nerds, or science geeks, and focus on that. This is fine. We call it specialization, and it is a basic building block of a post-agrarian society. But, ideally, it should happen after high school, after they've received a basic grounding in the things that we, as a society, have decided that an adult should understand in order to be and adult.

It's the same thing with Facebook and SMS. It's way easier to write a text, that your friend will understand just fine, than it is to write a book report. And so they get behind in other things. These are the same things that we, as a society, have decided are essential to being an adult. The difficulty is not that, as many articulate, they are using too much technology. It is that they are using technology to the exclusion of other, important, things.

I don't have any answers, but I think we need to articulate the problem better. It's not the technology, not in this case. This piece smacks of technological determinism, as if Mark Zuckerberg invented introversion, preteen drama, and illiteracy. In a past age, it was playing stickball in vacant lots or hitting barrel hoops with paddles. In my day, which wasn't that long ago, it was Livejournal and Neopets.
posted by LiteOpera at 6:24 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


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