You probably remember that embarrassing photo you posted on Facebook last summer or the one in your family photo album with your two front teeth missing. Ever wonder why? It might have something to do with the way these memories were shared. A recent study by Prof. Qi Wang, human development, reveals that posting personal events on social media make those events significantly easier to recall. Wang is interested in studying social cognition, specifically how memories and personal experiences help shape an individual’s identity.
Having devoted the better part of my free time to social media (and not proudly so), it has been remarkable to witness the transformation in the kind of material that crops up in my feed. There have been tangible shifts, to the extent that everyone I know seems to have become a political activist at some level. Recently though, I have gotten into too many spats with people who have pulled out articles they saw on their Facebook feed on the alleged perpetuation of rape culture by the present-day Indian society, or people who have quoted a friend’s tweet verbatim to back up their point about the presidential primaries, only to stand corrected after being presented with a news report that speaks otherwise. I have become extremely wary of these quickly formulated opinions: while everyone is at perfect liberty to air theirs, generalized statements featuring charged words make me immediately put my guard up. I think this largely stems from my worries about where such opinions originate and whether they are informed or not.
It’s the year 20-something-or-other. We’ve made contact with the aliens. We still call them “the aliens,” even though it’s quite possible they’re not the only aliens out there — even though we too, are space creatures, whether or not we choose to think of it that way — and even though “the aliens” has long been a conceptual colloquialism rather than a scientific label. (“Kind of like the word planet,” says Pluto.)
So, we’ve made contact with the aliens. They tried to dodge our calls.
In middle school, Facebook was a novel concept. A cyber-venue, not to be confused with MySpace, where one was compelled to maintain a certain minimal level of social acuity. Most importantly for me at the time, it was a platform to join friends in fiercely juvenile exhibitions of hand-eye-coordination through games such as “Helicopter” and all derivative variations (if you anticipate a wistful, Buzzfeed style walk down memory lane, I apologize in advance). Looking back, I could easily envision those games as a hook-and-bait strategy to lure teenagers to the social media website. Unlike the buoyant and cheerfully colorful media of Miniclip — Bubble Trouble — the competitive Facebook atmosphere likely had ulterior motives.
It is with a twang of guilt that the archetypal bingewatcher of Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” realizes that the taut, expertly-told story he or she is watching could be summarized as though it were the schmaltz-ified voiceover in a trailer for any puffed-up TV legal drama. The narration writes itself: cops corrupt to their medalled gills. An unwitting, simple man in the slammer for a crime he (apparently) did not commit. Two lawyers on an All- American crusade to prove his innocence. All this with an uncomfortably intimate Midwest backdrop just naïve enough to be rocked to its core by the murder of the new millennium, and any viewer familiar with In Cold Blood and the past few decades of American true crime will be instantly at home.
Overheard at Cornell began in the fall of 2012, and since has become the largest Cornell community group on Facebook, with almost 9,000 members. What started as a place for students to share funny stories has evolved into a massive hub for extra-campus student discussion on varying topics, according to Jocelyn Lee ’16, the group’s founder and administrator. “Initially I created it with the intent of it being a fun page to share and browse for amusement — like a Tumblr for inside school jokes,” Lee said. “I noticed that some of my friends at other colleges had a page like this and I thought it looked fun. People kind of scorned the group at first, but after a few months it grew to a couple thousand people.”
Lee said she believes that while the group has retained its original purpose as a place for amusement, it has also become a place where students could also spread news and have a platform to discuss important and controversial issues.
Facebook got a facelift in February, and the new site layout elicited many a group in its opposition. Though less visible, changes in the site’s governing documents also generated controversy. The new language in Facebook’s Terms of Service implied that the site owned all content, even after profiles were deleted. Site officials recently put the change to a vote, inviting all 200 million members to decide between the existing governing documents and the controversial proposed ones. The week-long voting period ended last Thursday. Participation was low, with only 600,000 ballots cast, but the old terms were reinstated with 75-percent approval.
In the past few years, social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace have brought together millions of people around the world. At Cornell, the Facebook phenomenon is widespread, with more than 52,000 active users in the Cornell network. Everyone from alumni to incoming students have found their places within Facebook’s groups and forums; even President David Skorton has a profile.
Tommy Bruce, vice president of University communications, appreciates the influence that new Internet technologies present. “It is very important for any institution, Cornell included, to participate in the Internet world,” Bruce said. “However, all Cornellians should behave without violating the rules.”
This is from an anonymous person, named Rebecca Weiss.
9:43 a.m. — Wake up. Find inexplicable patches of dry skin on arms when I get dressed. Think they may be from cold weather shock after coming home from California. Find one in particular on inside of left elbow. Consider that someone may have injected heroin into me in my sleep. Continue getting dressed.
All that time you spent on Facebook when you should have been studying may not be a waste after all. In a recent study, Prof. Jeff Hancock, communication, found that use of information on Facebook can be harnessed to gain influence and popularity amongst peers.
Hancock’s study paired participants who had not met each other over instant messenger. Some were asked to look at the opposite person’s Facebook profile before the conversation.
Those who looked at their partner’s Facebook beforehand were able to use the information obtained to ask questions and make themselves seem more similar to their partners. Hancock found that the more people used the information found out beforehand through Facebook, the higher likelihood that their partner would like them.