Can you make real friends online asks @PsychologiesMag

Guess I better get round to submitting an article that’s skittering around in my head for Psychologies magazine, as I spotted this story asking whether online friendships are ‘real’? I need to get on with my research – once I’ve written my book for parents/turned my PhD into a book (or equivalent digital!), as I want to write a book called something like “it’s real”.

Common themes in my conference papers are:

  • The ‘digital native’ debate has been debunked by Prensky who wrote it in 2001, as it limits by age, rather than by mindset – a more commonly used phrase is ‘digital resident’, although this is not uncontested.
  • I think Dunbar’s number also needs to be contested – I suspect personality type comes into this. As an E, I love having lots of different friends, and some are closer than others. A lot of I’s I suspect, are happier with a smaller, closer number, and there’s more research that can be done on engagement there.
  • Online relationships ARE real, there are real human beings, building real relationships and having real conversations online, and we must always remember that there’s a human being behind the keyboard. This does not mean that online relationships are THE SAME as offline relationships, but they shouldn’t be diminished on that basis.
  • In the most recent talk I gave on Friday, we’re seeking to do research into values in social media, and we were seeking to find the values that I was putting forward when I talked about ‘a blend’, we played around with ‘community’, but I think ‘inclusiveness’ is truly what I’m seeking. It doesn’t matter what tool you use – your mouth, pen/paper, telephone, online – it’s all about conversation, community, feeling a part of it (whatever ‘it’ is), and building relationships, and it’s at the heart of everything.
  • With The Big Bible project we’re seeking to build a sense of community amongst those who are trying to engage with the Bible – whether online or offline, although especially seeking online ways of engagement.

I was intrigued to see responses to my “I could say lots…” at which point I’d stopped with a brain choked full of cold, so I’ve come back today to write the response above… fascinating:

Look forward to seeing more debate – the one re embodiment comes up frequently in Christian sessions (and I love my face-to-face contact, and often use technology to enhanced that!), and I do find myself highlighting the power of digital for those who are physically disabled, but as in all my projects on accessibility/usability – anything that can improve things for those with a disability tends to improve the lot of all!


Remembrance Day for the Digital Age

It seemed like a strange idea to pay to download 2 minutes of silence from iTunes, and I was expecting that it would do the ‘We Will Remember Them’ at the beginning and the Bugle call afterwards, but instead, once I realised I should be in the video option rather than the audio option, there’s a series of images of celebrities (and a soldier at the end) standing in silence, with their poppies on.

With the last WW1 soldier dying in the last year, this year is even more noticeable (than last year) in it’s focus on current conflicts, and remembering about those who are fighting for the nation (not such a strong concept maybe as it has been in the past) now.

Virtual Remembrance

In working from home, I wasn’t able to join a physical act of remembrance, but there were plenty of virtual versions, from the video above, to adding a Twibbon (to Twitter and Facebook), to a 2 minute halt to Tweets. A number of hashtags were used, the one I went with was #silence, and you can see a number of others used it:

Twitter carries the top 10 ‘trending’ topics. In the World ‘Armistice’ was trending, within the UK, you can see that the majority of topics are focused on the Act of Remembrance:

A truly 21st Century way for virtual communities (who already spend a lot of time with each other) to come together.