The Dark Side of Social Behaviour

01 Feb

As I peruse through what is now WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, 1Up, and Mashable, I’ve come to notice trends that make social media a beautiful thing….and then those that make me want to scoop out my eyes with sporks. This post is going to question some of the things I see from the bad side of social behaviour.

I’ve done a literature review of survey data that monitors the motivators for social interaction ( ), and it revealed some interesting data about what makes people ‘tick’-it also only revealed it on a ‘SFW (Safe For Work)’-or in this case, research-level. I’m curious why no one wants to delve into the dark side of social media; why won’t people find those who I’m about to list and discover what their motivators are?

1. The fake name
Everyone knows at least one of these. If you don’t, let me enlighten you:



What in the world? I know I’m not the only person who sees this. With FB in particular, it makes me wonder, as many people have noted that FB started as a very obvious social network, and is slowly (almost completely at this point) turning into a hybrid of a social network/social networking site. That is, there is documentation and statistics stating that hopeful employers, your grandma, or other relatively important people can see this. Out of curiosity, what mark is this supposed to leave? Intimidation is not the adjective I would use. Note as well, on the side, someone else has their real name, broken apart by some other self-bestowed, self-inserted nickname. I hate to say it like this, but no one (minus your close friends) knows what that means. With that said-don’t put it on there. It looks silly. I’m just a cretain-when you forget to take that off and your employer finds it, they will be more than happy to inform why you weren’t hired.

2. The fake twitter advocate
I opened this semester stating that I didn’t care for twitter-I felt it was a status updating site-which is actually what it’s classified as. So, if Twitter is the place to be for consistent status updating, why are people doing it on Facebook and Myspace?

The TECH621 class has been exposed to information and data declaring that 85% of the population is fully aware of Twitter’s existence. Yet, only 8% of the population utilizes it. I get it-celebrities and ‘people who are in to Twitter’ use Twitter. Ok. But if that’s the case, why in the world do you think I care to read about your status update EVERY THREE MINUTES about how you got dressed (one update); you went outside (two); oh my god someone got mud all over you, worst day ever (three); late to class (four); class sucks lol (five); you saw Bridget or whoever and holy crap, you were wearing the same boots (six)…this list can go on. Isn’t this what texting/calling is for? Don’t fill up my feeds with useless information. Even in the defense of Twitter, while yes it is a ‘status updating’ site, I tend to see the people who do very well on Twitter are posting articles, interesting videos, news, and the occasional socialite status-not complaints about how the party last night had no PBR.

3. The refined individual
This is the one that intrigues me the most, mostly because it is a direct contradiction to the aforementioned research. The research reports summarizes that an individuals are more compelled to commit and submit contributions in communities where they feel accepted. In most communities, this is an easy accomplishment-you create simple, straightforward accounts that, essentially can say anything about you. My profile speaks of me openly-what you can see of it. My Facebook is extremely open-once you add me. My Myspace and 1UP are the same way. The point being-once you’re in, you’re in. The only people who know specific, intricate information are you and moderators. As far as you (an anonymous reader) knows, I ‘m anywhere between 17-48 years old, this could be my 2nd or 3rd masters, and I could be a millionaire…with an IQ lower than pickled ham.

And then sites like 4Chan, Reddit, and FunnyJunk have minimal restrictions, and saying that everyone goes haywire here is an understatement. These are the homes of most internet memes that people mentioned they didn’t understand in class, and also home of some the worst internet bullying around. I want to know what really makes these sites flourish. 4Chan in particular is somewhat the armpit of the internet-if it exists, it’s on 4Chan. Good, bad, ugly, hideous, ground breaking-oh, it’s there. What drives motivation to join a site such as these?

Just the same, I’ve seen a complete reversal in behavior-people who are one way in real life, and the polar opposite on their social network identities. I’ve seen genuinely nice people turn into to ‘trolls’, or in a positive light, somewhat introverted people trying to branch out. IT boggles me-the positive side to me is easy to explain. But the negatives…why be something you aren’t? I can’t even say it’s due to embarrassment-as some of these cases you either a) never see, or b) will never be able to confirm its them, unless you met them in real life!

Just a run-through of thoughts I have before sleeping for the night-granted I have these thoughts all the time.

-Vanessa B!


Posted by on February 1, 2011 in Uncategorized


6 responses to “The Dark Side of Social Behaviour

  1. Mihaela

    February 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Vanessa, re #2, the problem is not with the Twitter user, but with following that Twitter user πŸ™‚

    Re: nice people being mean online, this phenomenon is quite well documented. Anonymity & mediated interaction make some people feel more “courageous” online and say things they would never say to a person’s face.

  2. sarahcoxdesign

    February 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I know toward the end of last semester, I saw a lot of people using Formspring which, if you’re not familiar, is a site where you can ask a person a question anonymously or by using your formspring username. This is one of those sites where a person (specifically the asker) feels more “courageous.” Sometimes you want to ask someone something, but you don’t want them to know you asked it.

    Also, I just saw this last week once of my friends posted β€œI have this thing but the only thing written there is something mean. :(β€œ The website is which you can describe the user anonymously in three words. Honestly, if you want to find out what people think of you, you have to expect positive and negative comments. If you don’t want to be criticized, don’t provide people with a way to do so.

  3. Rachel

    February 1, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    I am with you on the Twitter rant. I don’t mind it on Twitter, as that what it is for. However, IT DRIVES ME NUTS when people update their status every 5 minutes! Come on people..! What really irritates me is when people post about what they are eating or what they did to work out, or “walking to class right now!”. Seriously…no one cares. There was one dude I had as a FB friend…he went to my high school..and was quickly removed because he was so irritating. He updated his status every few minutes…AND was the only one to comment on his status and ALWAYS ‘liked’ his status….. ya, enough said.

    In regards to the fake name…do you think that this is mostly done by the younger kids…like high school aged kids? It’s be interesting to see. Yes this will come back to haunt them. The whole MySpace display name is a bad one too… People put stuff that employers wouldn’t want to associate with. I think some people make these fake profiles to be someone that they aren’t offline. They can be/say/do what every and there is less risk associated. They don’t realize at the time that this may come back to haunt them….Oh the classic dirty laundry…

  4. Mihaela

    March 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    One more thought about #1, based on research data we just finished collecting – that is a strategy for managing online identity and making sure only people who know you very well can find you on FB.

    • msvanessab

      March 8, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      I mentioned that partially in the post, but I didn’t mention the implications used to actually up the security so that anyone can find you. I currently have mine set somewhat like that, where I can be searched, but you can only send me a message: no wall, no images, no posts, and not even a friend button. At one point, I did completely opt of the search algorithm because….well, let’s just say a few people found me that I didn’t want finding me.


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