Chatroulette – Not so freaky

I’ve experienced Chatroulette before, and had some pretty interesting, and creepy experiences. Tonight I was prepared for some very graphic images, but fortunately I did not! This may be random speculation, but after tonight, I think it may depend on the day of the week as to what you will find on Chatroulette, and therefore the technopanic can be more accurate on different nights.

In the past, I’ve chatted on a Friday or Saturday night, with my friends just goofing around and seeing what this website was all about. Oddly enough, I was on at the same time as a friend of mine, but we never saw trace of each other, yet I found numerous people multiple times. That night, guys would be sitting around drinking, flipping through the masses of people who came through their computer screens, playing pranks, and showing off their genitals. I can definitely understand why there is technopanic about this website, if you are constantly viewing inappropriate and pornographic material. It can be fun for mature audiences, but for an unsuspecting teenager, or preteen, it can be a scarring experience.

Tonight, however, was a much more pleasant adventure. Everyone was clothes (whew) and I only encountered a few people who skipped past my chat immediately. Most people stayed to chat, and were just looking for something to do, someone to talk to, and probably hoping to find something silly or a creative prank. One person set up a jack in the box, which reminded me of Saw. They didn’t stay to chat when I tried to talk. I chatted with one guy who was from Mexico, and attempted to get information out of me as to where I was from, where I studied, and personal information I didn’t feel was appropriate to share with a stranger. I evaded questions and gave vague answers. He complimented me and tried to flirt with me. It was not a situation where I would feel technopanic, but I also did not feel comfortable just sharing information that he was requesting. Luckily, this site allows you to just flip right by the people who give you the willies, onto the next viewer! Another guy was getting high in the bathroom, and I couldn’t hear him, but from what I could get out of him, he sounded ready to debate and battle anyone – probably his means of entertainment, or maybe he’s more confrontational when he gets high, who knows.

So overall, concerning the technopanic, this is a harmless website for adults who are aware of what to content expect (just about anything!). I would say this website is not appropriate for young children, for obvious reasons that I experienced that one Friday night. However, it also does not disclose any more information than you are willing to give, except your country of residence. I suppose if someone were to try to hack my IP address, they could probably find my general vicinity some how, but the odds of that are slim. Most everyone I chatted with tonight was just being fun and friendly. Good experience, especially since I feared the worst ūüôā

I-Dosing as a study break?

For this weeks assignment I decided to do the less risky option of moral panics and explored the world of I-dosing. Since I have heard nothing but horrific stories about Chatroulette I decided to steer clear. When MySpace was the cool online hang out I quickly became obsessed, and used its artistic layouts to express myself. However, I never dabbled in the dangerous aspects of MySpace and left it as soon as it started to fade. This left me seeing MySpace as more of a boring option to choose when exploring technopanics.

I sat down and dove into the world of i-dosing at the end of a long Tuesday and sampled one labeled “Energy Drink”. I found this and many others at Binaural Beats. The reviews had people raving about how well it picked them up when they were feeling sluggish. However, I am not sure how convinced I really was after experiencing it. It was that time of day for me when I feel like ditching the homework and spending the rest of the night lounging around. This made me think I would be the perfect¬†candidate¬†for this virtual pick-me-up.

While experiencing the i-dosing I tried to not be distracted by anything else and let the different sound waves do their dirty work. After about 10-15 minutes of listening I was definitely more alert but I am not sure this had the same effect as a real live energy drink streaming through my system. I feel like having two different sound waves coming directly into your ear drums is comparable to a mental wake up, for the time being. The comments people left were outrageously positive and left me thinking I would never need to drink coffee again. Although, after experiencing it I am not left fully convinced on how affective this really was.

As far as this activity being considered a technopanic I am left unsure here as well. If anything I think that this would harm young people’s eardrums but I do not see the argument that young people are using this outlet as a way to be on another level and also experience any type of high. Maybe if the conditions were different such as higher quality ear phones or at a very high volume I could see a greater impact, but after my experience I was just in awe at how addictive these buzzing and rumbling noises seem to be.

Support Groups Are Intimidating

For my practicum project I joined an online support group for alcoholism.  I chose alcoholism because it is an addiction that is quite prevalent as is its media coverage.  I felt this topic would allow me to interact with many individuals and hear their stories about their alcohol problems and learn how support groups helped them recover/heal or if groups left much more to be desired.   I started out on my first discussion board submission by introducing myself and giving my reasoning for joining the group.  I let everyone know it was for a project but I also disclosed that I have gotten in trouble with alcohol in the past and would use this opportunity to learn things as well.  I asked if anyone would volunteer to maintain a continuous conversation with me about their issues with alcohol and explain to me how support groups influenced their lives.  I felt it was necessary to disclose a lot of information about myself so that what I was doing was ethical and the other members would trust me and feel comfortable disclosing information to me as well.  I am still waiting for any replies and I will update you all when that happens

When will people stop using Chatroulette?

When Chatroulette first came onto my radar I thought the concept was a breeding ground for bad ideas and disturbing images. How can pairing two random people with video cameras turn into anything good? Nonetheless, I really wanted to see what all the hype was about, so I  gave it a try. My findings were nothing short of creepy because my experiences were marked by a few disturbing images of the male anatomy and stuffed animals in compromising positions. I felt relieved when I encountered completely harmless groups of high school to college age kids waiting for something interesting to come up.

When taking a step back from this experience, I understand why there would be a moral panic about this site. Chatroulette is like a chat room with video involved, which honestly scares me. You get live two-way interactions with complete strangers. I do not understand the point or the appeal of using it. There is really no way to censor or prohibit pornographic behavior. I don’t believe the internet should be policed, however, this website really does not serve any purpose or benefit anyone. It does not link old friends or connect you with people that have similar interests. Clearly this behavior and these images appear all over the internet, but most pornographic sites do not foster any interactions between people. Chatroulette makes it easy for teenagers to physically engage in sexual interactions or encounters. Although some people use it in an innocent manner will not cause any permanent damage to a child, it does seem like it could be an easy route for online predator to connect with a lonely teenager.

I really hope this fad is not here to stay because it doesn’t really fulfill any social needs. There are way more productive and better ways to spend your time than speaking with random strangers with bad intentions on the internet.

Second Life: Day 1

I may need some major work with socializing. That is my final thought on my first attempt on SecondLife.

I did read a brief background on the program or online community before I signed up and joined just so I was not totally clueless. It totally reminds me of The SIMS, which I used to play a lot when I was younger. However I am dissapointed I cannot build a house, guess I may need to pay a couple dollars to upgrade.

My first encounter with fellow avatars did not go so smoothly. I tried the chat option but no one seemed to want to chat back. One person did chat back, however with some not so kind words. I asked several people to be my friend and am hoping the next time I sign on, I will be accepted!

For the first time being on Second Life, I am a little creeped out, but I think it will just take some more online avatar socializing to get used to it. 

I-Dosing…to be concerned, or not concerned?

Just like most people, I had MySpace way back in the day, so I know how it used to be and how it has evolved into something not used by many people anymore. From my guy friends, I have heard all about Chatroulette, so, needless to say, I didn’t really feel like engaging with random people on the website and possibly running into some X-rated material (and I’m also currently in the library, so I have a feeling it would’ve been extremely awkward for anyone who happened to gaze over at my computer to see I was on Chatroulette). ¬†What’s left? Of course, that leaves I-Dosing. ¬†I wanted to see what it was all about, since up until Section last week, I had never heard anything about it.

I started off Google-ing the term, and came across a news video titled, “Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Warning Parents About I-Dosing.” It discussed parent’s concerns about their children and the evolution of I-Dosing throughout society. ¬†I happen to think that they have an irrational concern. ¬†I am not someone who has ever heard of this term before, so this is all going off of my gained knowledge from tonight, but I feel that possibly it is a generational thing. ¬†The generation of current parents did not grow up with the technology that we have today, so anything “out of the ordinary” like I-Dosing which claims to “make people high” and “simulate drug use” from different frequencies and digital sounds absolutely scares adults to no end. ¬†The idea that technology and noise can do what I-Dosing claims it does makes worried parents react in a way which seems concerning.

I listened to a few videos tonight, which consisted of different pitches and levels of noise, and if anything, it reminded me of an airplane taking off from the runway, or a calming ocean. ¬†It did not seem like anything around me was changing, I was just clued in to how annoying it was, and spent my thoughts wishing it would stop. ¬†The YouTube videos of the reactions of teens portrayed an image that I-Dosing actually works, and I beg to differ. ¬†Curious teenagers want to experience this phenomenon, and in all honesty, its for nothing…I-Dosing, in my opinion, does absolutely nothing.

I was actually listening to the “Gates of Hades” I-Dosing video while writing this blog entry, since I saw in someone else’s post that was a common one, and I didn’t come across it in my studies…just like all of the others, it has not phased me at all (and now it’s even sounding like an annoying, moving train, which is making me laugh, but that’s just me and my imagination I guess). ¬†You know how after you go into an ocean you feel like you’re in waves hours later, where you can literally feel it after the fact? ¬†I thought that was what I-Dosing would be like. ¬†It wasn’t at all.

iDid some iDosing

I suppose in an age when technology changes so quickly it can be frightening. I do remember my friends not being allowed to go to chat rooms and secretly doing it anyway behind their parents backs. I was always afraid of chat rooms myself because you never know who you are talking to. These different technopanics do make sense to me. I have been on chatroulette before and saw my fair share of body parts I did not care to see. I also think that myspace can be dangerous. Many people do post information that can compromise their privacy as the Marwick article suggests. I had not heard of iDosing prior to this assignment but I so think that it is worth worrying about if a kid is looking to get any sort of “high”. Because¬† I did not know much about iDosing I decided to check it out for myself.

An article I read about iDosing explained that there are slightly different frequencies in each ear that can alter brain waves. The article suggested that the placebo effect is in place here and that perhaps these kids are just feeling high because they think that this music will give them a high. After listening to some for myself I think I agree.

I found a short video on YouTube called 3rd Eye. The description on the video read “This is an advanced iDose. The audio is designed to be awaken your third eye (shakra). If you listen to this with headphones and your eyes closed, you WILL experience what is commonly known as an “iDose”. It is completely harmless, and strictly for meditative purposes only.” After listening I read some of the comments on the video and many of the comments said it was scary. I have to agree. I listed to few other “iDose” videos and they all sound creepy to me. The 3rd Eye one definitely freaked me out a little. I was trying to close my eyes while listening to it but I kept opening my eyes to make sure everything around me was alright. I do not feel “high” but it can give you some kind of rush, I suppose the same way a haunted house or scary movie would. That being said, many parents allow their children to see scary movies. I do not see this as being much different. There is a problem, however, with kids looking to get high. But, if this iDosing satisfied that desire and prevents them from seeking drugs, perhaps it is a good thing.


Figuring out Flickr: Practicum #1

For the practicum project, I am doing Media-based social networking. ¬†I have chosen to focus on the website called Flickr, because I have always been very interested in photography (even though I’m still learning…I got a new camera this summer I’m pretty much obsessed with) and I have seen many of my friends pages over the years. ¬†Starting off, I have been surfing the website and trying to get to know how it works. Going into this project, I had literally NO knowledge on what Flickr even is, besides the ability to share pictures. This weekend I went out of town, and was delayed for hours in the airport on my way back to Madison, so I had lots and lots of time to explore. ¬†I have so say though, even after going through the website, there still are things I do not understand yet.

I started off looking at random accounts, realizing that you can make a Flickr account private (to friends and family) or to the general public. ¬†I found that some of them were jokes, where people did not really care to keep them up. ¬†But some of the profiles were extremely good, and looked like professional photography. ¬†It really made me think about photography and how different lenses and settings can make all the difference in the world. ¬†I made my own account (link is below if you want to follow– my user name is stephwez), following all of the steps needed as a beginner to Flickr. ¬†I now get to know how to say “Hello” in a different language whenever I refresh my homepage, which I thought was a pretty cool feature.¬†

This weekend on my trip, I went out on a trail and took pictures of random things that maybe the average eye wouldn’t have noticed. ¬†I documented random leaves, rivers, bridges, grass, bees on flowers, tree stumps, and more… eventually uploading them all to my Flickr. ¬†I had no idea that Flickr had a “photostream” or “sets” or “tags”…. I still need to learn all of this Flickr lingo.

Still trying to figure everything out on this website. ¬†I’m still confused on a few of the things, such as how you get followers or see who is following you. ¬†I have spent some time on Google looking up tips and tricks for Flickr. Hopefully in no time, I will be pro.

D.I.Y… getting over being shy.

I was assigned the microblogging practicum assignment, and for this I decided to create a tumblr page.¬†I didn’t want to make my first practicum blog post before I really got my idea together and had made my first tumblr post. After spending a week just poking around people’s tumblr pages trying to explore what it is all about, I decided I was ready to create my own. Although the purpose of tumblr, and microblogging in general, is to create a blog-like page that allows you to blog via the use of pictures with short captions or “short, timely messages,” I found that the most popular tumblr pages with the most followers belonged to users who chose a specific theme for their page/photo blog. Since I spent the summer in New York with my friend Adelaide doing various arts and crafts projects (lame, we know), I decided to make a tumblr page that posts pictures of D.I.Y (Do It Yourself) projects I’ve done this year in my free time at school. Any of my friends who know me understand my obsession with stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby, and my need to stock up on crafty finds. Although a somewhat juvenile passion, I didn’t want to limit my D.I.Y posts to just things I’ve made from stores. Since food is another passion that happens to consume my life, I also wanted to include the things I’ve baked. My tumblr blog is titled D.I.Y apple Chai.

The problem I’ve already encountered with microblogging after setting up my account is the fact that I’ve never blogged before, and contrary to popular belief, I’m pretty shy when it comes to social media. I rarely ever take or upload pictures on Facebook and don’t have a twitter account because I’m too shy to write a daily tweet or facebook status update… so putting myself out there on a tumblr page for people to see, especially when the page shows off my quirky passion for arts and crafts, is a little uncomfortable. That might be my biggest challenge so far. Since I don’t have too much added to my tumblr page yet, I will be ready to add a link of my page and what I’ve done on tumblr so far with my next practicum blog post.

MySpace Who?!

At first, after reading my classmates responses I was actually very curious to see what all the fuss was about regarding chatroulette. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately considering everybody seemed to be majorly spooked by the site) my computer won’t allow me on the site. Instead, I opted to check out 15 random MySpace profiles. Since I never really got sucked into the whole MySpace craze back in the days before Facebook revolutionized social networking and online media, I have to look at these profiles from a non-user distance, which somewhat limits what I can and can’t see. However, after glancing at my first few profiles, I’ve decided I’ve seen enough.

Like Facebook, each Myspace profile consists of a profile picture, personal photos tab categorized by albums, a friends tab, comments tab, and tabs for whatever else the user wants to make accessible via their MySpace page. Unlike the ever popular Facebook, the website’s layout is far less advanced in its aesthetic and technological nature. While there seems to be a place for all of the social networkers needs, it is obvious that the site has lost popularity in comparison to other sites.

Besides these few first observations, I poked around MySpace to see how it fits into the world of “technopanics.” For one, Facebook may be used by people of all ages today, but it’s important to remember that it started as a place for high school and college students to connect with one another via schools. I remember when Facebook has links to friend’s networks right at the bottom of the page. Although it has far out grown that phase of its life, something about the fact that Facebook started as a place for only students, made it feel much safer and exclusive. Today, Facebook could probably be grouped into the realm of technopanics with the rest of these creepy sites. I know I’ve gotten a message before on Facebook from a 60 year old man in India asking if I would like to join him on video chat before. Just because I have the option of ignoring him and denying his friend request doesn’t mean he is unable to find, and contact me. That’s what makes MySpace so scary as well. For some reason, almost every MySpace page I encountered included a picture that somebody took of themselves either in a mirror or held up from a distance whereas Facebook Profile Pages tend to be perfectly cropped pictures out of high quality photo albums using a “profile crop” option. As Marwick mentions in his article, “These claims about MySpace fall into two broad categories: first, that the site makes it easy for online predators to contact minors, and second, that social networking sites generally lower cultural expectations around privacy, encouraging children to expose more of their lives online.” To address some of those categories, I decided to do some profile searching. What separates MySpace from Facebook is FB’s “report” button that allows a viewer to report a picture they find inappropriate to a technical team at Facebook. They then take a look at the picture themselves and decided whether it should be removed or not. This is a feature MySpace doesn’t seem to have and due to this it makes it easier for users to post material that may be considered inappropriate and for “online predators” to find children who do so. However, with all the points Marwick explains make MySpace seem like a place for panic, after examining these profiles, I don’t see much of a difference from Facebook and as Marwick also explained, MySpace has made major strides to ensure the safety of its users.

All in all, yes this website is a “public forum” and yes it allows a lot of freedom to teenagers– maybe more than parents want to allow. But the truth is, if teens aren’t posting what they want, when they want on MySpace, Facebook or other social networking sites, they will undoubtedly find somewhere else to do so.