Practicum Tomorrow!

Hey Everyone!

Tomorrow is my practicum presentation, and I am really excited to share my research with the rest of the class. As you all will see in my presentation tomorrow, I had just as many failures as successes in trying to gain the trust of the participants as researchers. The senior citizens weren’t keen on the idea of being part of an experiment, so I had difficulty building personal relationships with most of them. Here is my question for you all: If you were participating in an online community that was age specific, would you feel violated if a researcher (who isn’t part of your age group) were to enter your world and ask you questions as part of a school project? I want you to put yourselves in the place of the senior citizens to see if their emotions are justified. Looking forward to tomorrow!


Bye for now!


Chat Room vs. Discussion Forums

As I continue to search for chat rooms where I am able to be actively involved with the senior citizens, I find that the more chats I venture into, the more inappropriate seniors I find. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: An increase of age can bring on an increase in inappropriateness. I was shocked to read some of the comments that come out of these seniors mouths! Although a lot of the websites write up a list of rules, it doesn’t stop some of these adults from saying some vulgar stuff.

The last chatroom I participated in was on This website was interesting because you could participate in a big chat with anyone who is online, but also have a personal audio-video chat. I found that when I was on this site almost every member sent out a request to have a personal audio/video chat with me. I wasn’t comfortable saying yes, but I have included a shot of what it looks like when someone sends a request.

Since my experience with chat rooms hasn’t been at all positive, I decided recently to venture into discussion forums and see what I could find there.  I think there is a large difference in discussion forums than chat rooms, and seniors get different outcomes from each of these choices. I joined a website called, Boomer Women Speak, and have observed  a variety of forum topics from “Widows” to “health problems”and tried to get a good understanding of how senior citizens use these communities in their lives. Seeing the different discussions allows me to see how personal people become on the internet. These women have used this website to get through traumatic life situations and also to just talk about their feelings. It is really special to go to a place where they can talk to women who are experiencing the same types of situations they are going through.

I wanted to personally be involved so I decided to post a message on the welcome site to see if anyone had anything to say to me (I included a screen shot below) and the “boomer in chief” responded back. I also personally messaged one of the “top posters” named “chatty lady.”  I am waiting for her response back but I will be sure to keep you updated. I am liking this forum environment better, but haven’t given up with chats just yet!

A new strategy…

So after I was booted out of a bunch of senior citizen chat rooms, I took the time to come up with some new strategies on how I am going to approach this project. While I want to be honest in my intention as a researcher, I also want to dig deep and find out the different reasons why senior citizens engage in chat rooms and what they get out of it. I have continued to participate in various sites, but have been caught when I have to say my age. I think that my best approach so far was to be in a chat room a few times and observe rather than participate. By doing this, I was be able to gauge the various uses of these websites without interjecting and getting questioned by the other senior citizens.

So with this new strategy, I participated in a few chats where I sat out. This process wasn’t as entertaining as participating, but I feel like its necessary for me to get more of a foundation to these chats before I really dive in there. What I have found most interesting is that a lot of these chatters have met each other outside of the chat. They partake in what is called “chat-ups” where they will find places to meet and go out for drinks with each other. I find this very interesting because I feel that there are a lot of scary people out on the internet. As I have now vowed to be honest about my age and who I am, many people aren’t the same. These senior citizens seem to be pretty comfortable because they have met numerous times and continue to talk in these chats rather than communicate separately by email.

What I also found interesting is that the same people participate in the same chats. I thought that seniors would travel around to different chats and get to know different people since the virtual world is so big. From what I have gathered so far, it seems that there are “cliques’ within different chat rooms and people like to talk to the people they are comfortable with. This is hard for a new comer, like me, who wants to get in there and talk to people because they seem hesitant to reveal information about themselves to strangers. Which is ironic because they are all strangers to begin with.

Anyway, I think that a few times sitting out in these chat rooms was great, now my next step is that I am going to try and participate without them asking me how old I am. Hopefully that works or I will have to become a silent chatter again..which is no fun. That’s all for now!

Voted off the island…

Hey Everyone!

So I am doing my practicum assignment on Senior Citizens and I have been a bit confused on how I should approach these online communities. While I don’t want to lie to the members of the community, I was hesitant to reveal my age because these communities are built around connecting with other senior citizens, not 21 year olds. Well, my skepticism was proven as I was kicked out of the senior citizen chat room! Here is how it went. I joined a chatroom on a website called “Senior Chatters” under the name “lyssbe.” Everyone was pretty welcoming at first and I started to get some information by asking what sorts of things they talked about etc. Then, I screwed myself when I asked them how old they were. Their ages were around 61. As I tried to start more conversation, they were persistent to find out my age.

I tried to ignore those questions and continue conversation, but then they all kept asking me! I didn’t know if I should lie or tell the truth! I tried to get out of it by saying something along the lines of “I don’t like to reveal my age, it is an insecurity of mine, is that so wrong,” and mean user “patricia” responded, “it is here, no age, no information.” Then they ALL pressured me and said it was my last chance so I cracked and said 21. I could’t lie!!! Then “patricia”, and “krazykatlady” requested to vote me out of the chat, and they all ganged up on me and I was kicked out!!

Does anyone have any suggestions? Should I lie about my age to get information? I don’t think these senior citizens respond well to being part of a research experiment. If anyone has suggestions let me know. For now, I will include some screen shots of my interesting experience. Maybe I will have better luck next time…Hopefully.

Feeling “Unlucky” on Chat Roulette

I was curious to see if Chat Roulette was still filled with the same people as it used to be, for I hadn’t visited the site in at least a few years. I was not pleased to find that it was. I was greeted on my first chat with a naked man, followed by sounds of pornography in the background. I was completely offended and had to exit the page, before I got the courage to go back on again.

My second experience was a little less frightening. It consisted of a hello and me pretending I was from London with a British accent,  followed by me hiding my face from the camera. For some reason I felt more comfortable putting on an act than actually participating in the site. I think I am uncomfortable with the fact of strangers seeing my face and being able to do whatever they want, because they are in the privacy of their own homes.

The concept of Chat Roulette is both interesting and creepy at the same time. As I revisited this site many years after I used it for entertainment, I still say to myself “There is absolutely no way I am the only normal person on this thing”,but I always seem to be. There was not one comfortable experience I had on Chat Roulette. I see how it is considered a moral panic because it can make people feel violated and uneasy. While I am sure that many people have had a decent experience on this website, I have not. I guess that’s the “gamble” about it, there is a good chance you will get a creep. Overall, I can say that this is my last time using Chat Roulette. Ever.

History of the Internet Video Reaction

While I agree with my fellow classmates that this video was a bit confusing, I find it very intriguing how much went into the Internet before the general public even knew it existed. It is so interesting how something that is so readily used today required an extraordinary amount of time and intelligence to create and perfect. We, as consumers, often take for granted how easy our access is to various realms of technology. When I think about my first experiences with the Internet as a child, I remember the dial up tone and the two minute wait just to get onto AOL. Now, frustration grows if we have to wait more than 10 seconds to get onto a website. To think about how much progress was made in just those 10 years of my experience makes me realize the tremendous amount of progress has been made since the advent of the Internet, which was described in this video. While I lack the skills to understand science, I find it so amazing that people are able to think and create these intricate worlds that, to me, seem impossible to produce. I don’t doubt that I will continue to be astonished throughout this course when I learn more about the Internet’s history and the important people who made it what it is today.

Hi 346 classmates!

Hi Everyone! My name is Alyssa Bernstein and I am a senior majoring in Communication Arts. I am from Bedford, New York – just north of New York City. I love to travel, exercise, eat sushi, and watch reality television. As I’m sure most of you are the same, I am on the Internet for the majority of each day so I am excited to actually learn about the internet and its function in society. This past semester I studied abroad in Prague, which was absolutely amazing! While I miss Europe a lot, it is great to be back in Madison for my final year of college (scary!) Looking forward to a great semester 🙂