Week 3: The Absence of Social Pressure

This morning on Ellen, I saw the perfect example of one of the main points of discussion for Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody”.  Shirky explains that group formation has become easier and faster with the use of new media today.  On Ellen, a group of eight hikers came together based on a post online about a dog stuck in the mountains.  A couple was hiking and saw the dog in a rocky terrain and although they could not move the dog alone, they knew something needed to happen fast or the dog would die.  After posting about it online, the eight hikers went out together and were able to coax the dog and carry him to safety.   Later, they found out a man had been hiking with the dog when the dog was injured and the man felt he had to leave the dog behind (not sure how someone could ever do that to their pet). This story follows last weeks reading which gave a prime example of how word can spread and how group formation can be much stronger than an individual (p.161).

In chapter 2 of “Smart Mobs” by Howard Rheingold, he discusses various elements that are essential to keep a group intact.  On page 36, he lists what sociologist Elinor Ostrom argued in 1990 keeps groups together that had shared public goods for centuries.  One element that makes the list is “A graduated system of sanctions used”.  This is the one main component point that can stop people from free riding in society.  It can be so hard to sanction people online because you are not face to face with them.  Peer-to-peer social pressure works well because we all want to keep a good reputation (p.37).  But how can this be applied to groups online?  In the case of the hikers, if one of them did not show up, he or she may have felt bad- but it ends there.  No one knows who that person really is on the other end of the internet.  Think about how much your peers influence you whether you claim to be different and an “individual”.  Can this be applied online?  What are some examples of social pressure at work online?

This entry was posted in Fall 2012, Week 3 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Week 3: The Absence of Social Pressure

  1. jessliu91 says:

    I think a great example of peer pressure on social media is the “share” and “like” feature on Facebook. For example, many campaigns post on peoples’ walls saying that “200 of your friends already voted, what about you?” Another example would be when you download an application on Facebook and they tell you the number of friends who are currently using this application. These two examples are peer pressure because they are essentially saying, “Look! All of these friends are using this app or voting and so should you!” Another instance that comes to mind is chain posts on Facebook. Recently, when I am browsing Facebook, I see a photo that multiple of my friends have shared or liked. Reading the description of the photo, it’s usually something very upsetting or political and the last line typically reads “If you care, then share this messages with all your friends.” I think this is another example of peer pressure because it’s saying that all your friends care, along with the other 500 people who have already shared/liked it, and you should too.

  2. bdisant611 says:

    I agree that Facebook has definitely set the bar when it comes to social peer pressure online. While I agree with Jess that the “share” and “like” buttons are examples of this, I believe it goes far beyond that. Vanity, sad as it may be, is the main source of pressure. In “Absense of Social Pressure”, it is stated that “No one really knows who that person is on the other end of the internet”, but with Facebook, you do. For an average college student, it is between 500-2,500 of your “friends” who you have had some contact with in life. This puts an unbelievable amount of pressure on a person to portray themselves as well as possible on a profile. This normally manifests itself through a Facebook’s “photo” application. Everybody wants to look their best, and there is added pressure to do so when there is the possibility of getting tagged in a photo and appearing on the “Newsfeed” for thousands to see. The argument can be made that this added pressure by Facebook to look good can create healthier lifestyles through better diets and increased exercise, but does it outweigh the mental toll it takes through stress? Most teenagers start using Facebook at the onset of high school at the age of 14. Do we really want young teens worrying about their looks in Facebook photos at the same time puberty is already taking its toll on awkwardness and insecurity?

  3. arlaurin says:

    Great thoughts. Is there any other ways BESIDES Facebook/other major social networking? Groups are formed in other ways online. Just trying to expand thoughts here!

  4. goblu says:

    I think that twitter is another social networking site that has peer pressure online. It may not be as direct as facebook, but people try to seem funny or intelligent on twitter through their tweets. Users always want more followers or other users to re tweet them. The desire to be followed or re tweeted is a type of pressure. I think this aspect of twitter hits on what bdisant611 says. It creates a type of insecurity if you cannot be as funny or get as many re tweets as your friends. It is a negative type of pressure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s