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comment by Wintermute
Wintermute  ·  2222 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Stephen Fry's Blog post on Social Media.

    They couldn’t force me to have an online presence after all.

I wonder where he gets this idea... Both the Comp. Sci. and Engineering schools at my university require that all students have a laptop capable of running software related to the coursework (financial aid is available specifically to help meet this requirement). The university also supplies plenty of computer labs. If I insisted on turning in all assignments on paper, I would be laughed at and given failing grades until I was kicked out of school.

The modern world absolutely can and will force you to have an online presence.





user-inactivated  ·  2222 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yea, I figured that was going to come up. No way in hell you can do anything offline now. Even the art students need to use computers.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  2221 days ago  ·  link  ·  

To you and to Wintermute both:

When I started living in the rented apartment in Tomsk, which happened in September, I had no Internet access for months - April's going to be the second month I have it. The thing I missed most was YouTube videos. I once spent a night in the uni library just to get all of the stuff downloaded and saved to watch later.

The Internet makes a lot of things simpler, quicker and/or more comfortable to do. It provides instant communication as well as archives and logs of things. It lets you do almost anything with the digital data.

But to say that you can't do anything offline? To say that you can be forced to be present online? Ridiculous, almost infantile.

While I do send and receive messages through the only social network I have a page in, I use it mostly to gather home assignments for a single class and search through vast array of musical tracks when I want to listen to one of them. In fact, while it's possible to do without a social network page (which I did for a few months), the latter being so comfortable in this particular network is the only reason I haven't deleted the page yet. The assignments I can also gather from the tutor directly, with no detriment for either of us, but I don't while the page is up.

Most of our assignments are required to be presented in written form. The only reason I don't do a lot of them long-hand is because I have trouble writing by hand and I asked the tutors to allow me not to. We're linguists. Guess how many other faculties use the same practice in the uni (Tomsk State Uni).

If I had to lose Internet access, I'm sure I'd miss some things - like YouTube videos, quick music access and one particular online game, Dota 2, - but beyond that, there are so many things to do offline that to say that Internet presence is a "should" rather than "may", that it is socially mandatory rather than a preference is a skew of values rather than a representation of reality. The Internet is useful, and there are a lot of things there that you won't find anywhere else, but you can live without it, much like you can live without coffee or swimming: once in a while, for a good measure, and if that's enough for you, that's fine. You will only miss out on things you deem important, and not to everyone Internet presence is such a thing.

P.S. The incomplete list of things you can do offline:

- spending time, face to face, with friends and family

- cooking delicious meal

- jogging/running

- powerlifting

- reading books by famous philosophers

- solving Rubik's Cube

- writing

- arguing over the meaning of life with other people

- volunteering

- driving a motorcycle across the city

- walking

- having sex

- bottling your own beer

- cutting figures out of wood

- teaching children English

- arguing for a better future, on any scale, with those who can make it happen

- looking good in that shirt and tie

- doing homework

- doing housework

- sewing

- farming

- riding a horse

- building a plane by hand

- growing tea for yourself

- consulting

etc.

By now, you should get my point.

user-inactivated  ·  2221 days ago  ·  link  ·  

If I don't have the Internet I cannot do my job, and I don't get paid. I have friends, some I have never met in person, in four countries and seven states. Without the Internet I'm have never met them. You, for example, and I would never interact without an online forum.

The issue you address was not the issue I was addressing, so I take a step back.

    No way in hell you can do anything offline now. Even the art students need to use computers.

This comment was in the context of kids going to college. Just about every class, yes even the art students, requires online access and access to the college intranet. I have coworkers taking online classes and then they have to show up with a laptop at the final; no laptop no grade.

So, going with the offline theme, let's say you decide to abandon the online world and move out to the middle oh nowhere and be a farmer. They no longer fax weather reports here in the US, so you need some way to get the NOAA alerts online. If you live in a rural area and are building new construction, good luck getting land lines unless you already have telephone lines running along your land; here in the rural areas they use phone calls over wifi and cell phones and are going to stop laying copper to new construction in "low population tracks" in 2018. Even still there is a multi-thousand dollar hook up fee if you want a land telephone. You can buy older farm equipment that is not online enabled, so at least there you can pull off your goal. But, then stuff breaks. Parts, depending on what you are using on your farm and its age, will almost certainly have to be bought online, or at least ordered online and shipped to the guy who is going to do the work. Living on 40-50 acres isolates you more than most people realize and we being social animals, you will need some form of social interaction. That means hoping you get along with your neighbors or talking to people online. The new tractors even use GPS to till and harvest, requiring map uploads via the internet. Is it still possible to live in the first world without the internet and online connectivity? Possibly, but it will take a lot of effort.

Where you live looks like it is way out in the middle of nowhere, yet is still a modern connected city. The reason I posted this link is to still a conversation on how to move online communities to embrace the good that they can do while being on the lookout for the dangers of 'hug boxes' exclusions and the other darker parts of the human experience.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  2221 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    The issue you address was not the issue I was addressing, so I take a step back.

That's fair. I've gone way wild on the blaming and the bashing in the comment you replied to. Writing past bedtime, when I get tired and grumpy, was not a good idea. I apologize for the dissent of the discourse.

    This comment was in the context of kids going to college.

This is not reality for me. I can't vouch for the whole of Russia - I can imagine, for example, Moscow or Saint Petersburg having similar practices due to economical advantage - but in Western Siberia and further to the east, such connectedness is not the case. As students, we are to learn how to operate a computer and the basic stuff there - office software, library databases, stuff like that - as well as, occasionally, partake in online-only homework (which I've totally forgotten about because I don't take part in the class), but this is it.

Neither is reality for me the fact that you have to work so much online as a farmer. In fact, it's hard for me to believe you get to - or have to, from how you put it - work in such interconnected conditions. In Russia, farming is done very much offline; as they call it, "by the old ways". You want parts for your tractor? You go to the shop and buy or order them. You want seeds? You go to the shop and buy or order them. You want weather forecast and warning? You have radio, cell phones and neighbourhood. Even if the last two don't work for you, as per your example, you still have radio, which doesn't require any lines but the electric one, and that's done with diesel engines if you don't have the connection (which, given how communitized our gardening is, you most likely do). So on. What you describe sounds more like sci-fi to me.

    Where you live looks like it is way out in the middle of nowhere, yet is still a modern connected city.

Your middle of nowhere is nowhere near my middle of nowhere. You'll be surprised how well people are doing without the gimmicks like Wi-FI and GPS in Russia, be it city, town, village or a secluded little house in the woods. This kind of living is where I draw my conclusions from, and while effortsome, it's far from impossible, given how 70-year-old women can survive on their own in the harsh Siberian winter.

    while being on the lookout for the dangers of 'hug boxes' exclusions and the other darker parts of the human experience.

Can you expand on those darker parts? I never heard of hug boxes before you've mentioned it. Links to the articles alone would be fine.

user-inactivated  ·  2218 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Can you expand on those darker parts? I never heard of hug boxes before you've mentioned it. Links to the articles alone would be fine.

Watch this TED talk. https://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles?language=en

The problem comes into play when you are surrounded by people and ideas that enforce your world view. There is a reason religious cults practice segregation and demonize the outside world. Liberals who do nothing but read and interact with other liberals, to use an example, reinforce the good parts of being a liberal, and then also reinforce the idea of "Anyone who does not think like I do is s stupid redneck who hates women and wants to pave the earth." same thing with any ideology that can become an Identity. then, when someone comes along and says "oh that is not correct" and tried to counter you with facts, you dig down and believe your worldview even more.

The Backfire Effect is real, I've watched it in action, and I have been guilty of it myself. Start talking about cutting NASA, R&D, and educational funding and I have to fight my gut reflex to call you a dumbass, take a breath and read what you are saying before I can react to it.

That seems wrong, don't it? But Humans are not rational creatures. We had to invent the scientific method as a way of processing data to take our biases out of the observable universe and to prevent our ingrained ideology from contaminating what is really going on outside out heads. A conservative should read at least one liberal paper, web site, blog etc., if for no other reason than to know what the other side is saying. A christian should read atheist/Buddhist/Shinto philosophy to see how close some of what they are saying is to Christianity. Listening to the contrary view can help you better understand YOUR reactions to the world, see the problem through someone else to get a bit of perspective and, when you are ready to debate you know the talking points the other guy is going to use and can counter them.

The final thing to think about is that humanity grows when it faces a challenge. We as individuals grow and become better people when we see difficult situations and learn to deal with them.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  2215 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's a great deal of detail on opinion bubbles many communities act as. I particularly appreciate how you present scientific method as a counterbalance to our natural bias mechanism, or, perhaps as a supplementary system.

Is there anything else as obscure or not immediately obvious that one should be wary of on the Internet?

user-inactivated  ·  2215 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Well, honestly, you have to fight it. There is no easy answer. If you believe "A" then find people who think "A" is wrong and see why they think opposite you. Ignore the screeching extremists for the most part, but do occasionally check them out so you know what language they use. In the US we call certain phrases and words "Dog Whistles" so that the nut jobs know you are on their side, but no scaring away the moderates.

The point here is not to get you to change your worldview. The point of doing this is to get you to see your beliefs through the eyes of the opposition so that when you get outside your filter bubbles you can debate intelligently. Nothing disarms someone faster than saying that you read on THEIR media (talking point here).

That, and leaving your filter bubble will lessen the risks of you becoming an extremist yourself.

user-inactivated  ·  2220 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Can you expand on those darker parts? I never heard of hug boxes before you've mentioned it. Links to the articles alone would be fine.

Place holder as this deserves an answer, may make a new thread.

    Your middle of nowhere is nowhere near my middle of nowhere.

LOL. Yea, you got me beat there. Here the furthest I can get from a city of 500,000 people is about two hours drive.