Teresa Ovalle

Welcome to Me

Facebook is making us feel connected – or is it?

When I was a teenager, the one thing my mother could use against me was the telephone. When she was angry with me, she banned me from the telephone; the one thing in my world that connected with friends – one friend at a time. It was a harsh existence back then. Now not only kids, but people from every generation have the opportunity to connect with hundreds of friends at once. Oh, how the world has changed.

Facebook makes us feel connected – or is it? I feel connected to friends I have not spoken to in years because they are only click away. I’m updated on family events, job changes, relationship status changes and a host of other issues because of what they post and because of what I read. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re more connected. When was the last time I picked up the phone to speak to any one of my friends? When was the last time I dropped a birthday card in the mail to let them know I was thinking of them? For most of my friends, it has been a very, very long time.
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Don’t Play With Me

I recently read an excerpt from a book by Steven Johnson. The book was titled, “Everything Bad Is Good For You”, which Johnson does his best to convince me that playing games is actually good for a person. I think there is some merit to this book, but before I begin, I want to share a childhood story.

When I was young, I visited my Uncle Jim and we often played a game called Scan. It was a card game that had a stack of large square cards that we spread across the floor and another stack of cards that we mixed up and put facedown in a holding block. Each card on the floor and in the stacked deck had four squares, each with a different set of colors and patterns. Before my uncle or I would flip over a card face-up in the deck, we had to distinguish which square type we were focusing on, color or patterns, etc. Once the card was flipped, the first person to identify the same pattern on the cards spread on the floor won that round. To me, Scan is an older version of Tetris.

In the article, Johnsons says, “Researchers have long suspected that geometric games like Tetris have such a hypnotic hold over us… because the game’s elemental shapes activate modules is our visual system that execute low-level forms of pattern recognition – sensing parallel and perpendicular lines, for instance.” I vividly remember looking for similar shapes and color patterns and knowing the reward in finding it first was winning the point and ultimately beating my uncle. I also remember my love for the game. I’m not sure if it was because of the time I spent with my uncle, or if it was the joy in being good at the game, but I do remember being hypnotized from the beginning of the game to the end.
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Cancer Support Community

Fighting is one thing, supporting the fighter is another.  Supporting the fighter can often be a difficult task and the role is certainly not for the faint of heart.  This is the reason Kristie, my class project cohort, and I thought it was important to include supporter information in our Scarred and Beautiful social media community.  The fighter has a tough road ahead, but it’s even tougher with no support in place.

So when it was time to find a blog to follow for this week’s assignment, I wanted to focus on finding a blog that was centered on the caregiver.  I found this wonderful blog called Cancer Support Community (Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara) that I plan to use as a reference not only for this assignment, but for the Scarred and Beautiful community.
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I Know I’m Right – There’s No One to Tell Me Differently

Imagine surrounding yourself by people who believe what you believe.  You think alike, and you have empowering conversations as to how to change the world for the better.  Nothing can stop you as a group.  This group has a way of thinking that you’re very comfortable with, with little to no outside disruption of countering thought.  You have found your niche.

As Sunstein states, “With just a few clicks, you can find dozens of Web sites that show you are quite right to like what you already like and think what you already think.” (pg. 1)  This is true.  I belong to a couple of niche groups that I find appealing because the group members have similar thoughts as I do.  It only took a few clicks to find what I was looking for online.  Suddenly, I was surrounded by people who felt familiar to me.  That’s a good feeling.  My ideas were validated, and I realized how right I was.  Or was I?

Through my travels, I’ve met people who knew everything and were certain that what they knew was absolutely right.  There was no room for speculation.  They had statistics to back up their facts and quotes from famous people who thought the same as they did.  They could be right.  That I cannot refute, but were they right because the facts presented were fair and impartial, or were they right because their enclave of like-minded people gave them boldness to declare them so?
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The Ambiance of Social Media

When I think of the word ambiance, I think of a soothing place to relax or unwind, perhaps indulge in a glass of wine and chat with family and friends.  The lighting is comfortable; the mood is light, and people are glad to be hanging out with me.  This is a good place – wherever this is.

This is online.  This is me – and you – and the other ‘reported 2.7 billion people – almost 40% of the world’s population’ (Elephant Creative) hanging out in our cyber worlds, ready to engage in conversation from the comfort of our own lives.  This is social ambiance.

The ambiance is the setting or the mood of our surroundings.  In this case, we are in the privacy of our own homes in close proximity to our 2.7 billion family members and friends; they are only a few keystrokes away.   The air is thick with anticipation of the joy of communicating and connecting with a lot of people at once.  The news feeds are active, friends are tweeting and the amount of information you are receiving is almost overwhelming, but it’s not.  You’re used to the feeling of being connected to a lot of people at once.  And it feels like you know them.
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I had to choose a hashtag to follow for one week for a recent assignment.  At first, my choices weren’t yielding any good results.  If I plan to follow a hashtag, I expect it to be interactive with people participating.  I finally thought to check #darwinawards and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was just what I was looking for.  All that and a laugh or two.

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Scarred and Beautiful

For the remainder of the semester, Kristie, my classmate, and I will be building a community called Scarred and Beautiful.  The intent is to have a place for women to talk about how scars from cancer has affected them and a place to find and offer encouragement.  This week’s video assignment was to find similar communities and to use listening tools to learn more about them.  I hope you enjoy the video.

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David vs. Goliath

We all know the story of David and Goliath; a young boy destroys a menacing ogre with a sling and a stone.  The short story I am about to tell is similar, but it entails one internationally know author, Salman Rushdie (David), and Facebook (Goliath).

One weekend, Facebook decided to cancel Rushdie’s account without his knowledge.  Rushdie contacted Facebook to request that his account be reinstated.  Facebook wanted proof that Salman Rushdie was in fact Ahmed Salman Rushdie.  Once Rushdie proved he was himself, Facebook denied Rushdie the use of his middle name Salman on his account and forced Rushdie to use his first name Ahmed instead.  Rushdie had always used his middle name, as many people do, but Facebook would not allow it.  Facebook did not respond to Rushdie’s requests.
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How to Become a Groupie

Becoming a groupie used to be a challenge. You had to do research by talking with people you knew about the group you wanted to find – which could be awkward – then you had to participate physically in the group. That can be a daunting task for the shy, quiet type and time consuming for just about anyone else. Thank goodness the internet has taken care of that for us.

The internet offers us a safe place to interact with others from where ever we may be at the moment. We can join a number of groups at any time and participate as much or as little as we’d like. As Wellman and Gulia say, “People can easily participate within the comfort and safety of their own homes or offices, for any length of time they choose at their own convenience.” (pg. 4) This makes becoming a groupie very easy. With only a few keystrokes, we’re connected and ready to observe or to participate in our groups.

Groups are a way for people to connect and feel connected to others. McKenna adds that, “One of the most basic interpersonal needs is to “belong,” to feel that one is a member of a group of others who share similar interests and goals, and to feel that one is a valued (and unique) member of that group.” (pg. 116) Whether you’re a shy, quiet type or a party animal, human connection is important to our lives. Online groups are a great way to fill that need.
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