Why Your Facebook Page Can Never Be Perfect
Sam Gosling, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. His work has been widely covered in the media, including The New York Times, Psychology Today, NPR, and "Good Morning America," and his research is featured in Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink." Gosling is the recipient of the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution. His first book, Snoop, was a New Scientist Editor's Pick for top books of 2008. His most recent research has focused on how animal psychology can inform theories of human personality and social psychology.
Question: What’s the latest frontier of your research on personal spaces?\r\n
Sam Gosling: We've begun to look much more into virtual spaces now, the idea being that people have much more control over those, to try and understand what people are doing in that context. Are they using virtual spaces—and by virtual spaces I mean things like social networking sites like Facebook and so on—how are they using those? Are they using those just as a medium of social communication, or are the using those as a kind of way to promote themselves, to portray themselves in a positive light?\r\n
Question: Are our physical and virtual spaces similar, or do the latter project an ideal?\r\n
Sam Gosling: We were very interested about that. We were interested in whether people use their social networks as a kind of compensation. So is it that people who are really outgoing can go into this virtual space to behave like an introvert, or is that just another opportunity for them to be outgoing? So do we see the out, offline activity mirrored online, or do we see it more of a hydraulic model, so they do one online and one offline? And what we've found on that is that people tend to do the same thing, so the people who are extroverted and have loads of friends in real life have loads of friends on Facebook too. People who have loads of interests in the offline world also do on the online. So in this case people are—it acts as just really an extension of their everyday life. Having said that, there's a couple of interesting things, is that people don't really know how their viewed on the basis of those spaces, so one of the things we've looked at is whether people project an accurate view of themselves or they project an inflated positive view of themselves. Because we thought, well, maybe people are using these more like a sort of a personal Web site in order to promote themselves, or are they really just using it as a way of communicating, more like the telephone? Are they just using it as another way of living out their lives? And so how we tested that was, we got people to observe people on the basis of their Facebook profiles, and we compared that to how people really saw themselves and also how they would like to be. And what we found there was that people—the impressions people get of you based on your profile—and they know nothing else about you, but just based on your profile—match much more closely with how you really see yourself than how you'd like to be. And that raises the question of, well, what are—are people trying to create a false impression and failing, or is it that they're not trying at all? I mean, we don’t really know what's going on, whether they're trying and failing or just not trying. But one of the interesting things which would make it a real challenge to create a false impression even if you wanted to is that people have no idea how they're viewed on the basis of their profile. So if you give somebody—if you say, okay, what do you think people think you're like on the basis of your profile, and then you compare that to what people really think, those things are entirely uncorrelated. They have—people are completely oblivious to the impressions they portray in everyday life, which of course has all kinds of implications for—in terms of your ability to try and control it. But also you have no idea what impressions these employers who are looking at your Facebook profiles are, or people who are, you know, cyber-stalking you or whatever. You have no idea of what impressions they're really getting of you.\r\n
Question: What problems arise in the conflict between personal and virtual worlds?\r\n
Sam Gosling: Well, I think there are a number of these effects which really only show up—which are nonlinear. So people are seen as more and more positive if they have, for example, a large number of friends and contacts. If they have too many, then it's seen as—it becomes seen in a negative light. So you have to control the number of connections that you have. But I think one of the, sort of the broader points is, you have to kind of realize that you can't really control these things. I mean, I think most of the technologies that we've had, you know, probably since industrialization—we used to live in tiny groups of people, and we'd know everyone in our group, and we wouldn't have this idea of having a work self and a social self and a relationship self, and even, you know, sub-selves within those. You'd just be the person—everyone would know you from all of those contexts when we lived in small groups. Then when you start having a life where you have to leave and you go to work, and you have people who know you at work who don't know you at home, you begin to segment these things out. You have these different selves. You have this idea that you can go and be a professional self, and then that's different and it doesn't matter that you behave in what some people might think is a nonprofessional way at home. And so—and I think until now, all of the technologies have increased the segmentation; they've made us to into these different fields. But now, with these social networking sites, where we can't really control who looks—and we can control a bit, but not that much—and where people can look us up on Google, suddenly you're losing control of that. And I think this is the first technology that's now beginning to have reversed the trend. So you can now—for the first time you can now no longer keep these things separate. So I can dress up in my suit and shirt and go in and teach my students at the university and, you know, portray myself in this very serious professional way. But I can't stop them, you know, logging on and finding photos of me, you know, drunkenly yelling at the camera with all of my friends too. I've lost control of that. So I think, you know, part of the thing that we have to do is sort of shrug and sort of reconcile ourselves to this idea that look, we are multifaceted, and people know it. I mean, we've always been multifaceted, but we've been able to portray ourselves, to direct certain selves to certain audiences. We're losing control of that, and I don't know really if there's much way round it. I think norms will change, though. I think norms will change. I think people will understand, just because you go out and, you know, go to Renaissance Fairs on the weekend, that doesn't mean you can't be a good accountant, or—you know, they'll realize, oh, in fact those people who I've always seen at Renaissance Fairs, they are the accountants or whatever it is.
Recorded on November 6, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen
New research suggests that we’re as skilled at seeing through social masks online as we are in the real world.
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What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
- A team of physicists carried out experiments to determine the precise value of the fine-structure constant.
- This pure number describes the strength of the electromagnetic forces between elementary particles.
- The scientists improved the accuracy of this measurement by 2.5 times.
The process for measuring the fine-structure constant involved a beam of light from a laser that caused an atom to recoil. The red and blue colors indicate the light wave's peaks and troughs, respectively.
Scientists at Washington University are patenting a new electrolyzer designed for frigid Martian water.
- Mars explorers will need more oxygen and hydrogen than they can carry to the Red Planet.
- Martian water may be able to provide these elements, but it is extremely salty water.
- The new method can pull oxygen and hydrogen for breathing and fuel from Martian brine.
The WashU electrolyzer<iframe src='https://mars.nasa.gov/layout/embed/model/?s=6' width='800' height='450' scrolling='no' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe><p>The WashU electrolyzer—it has no snappy acronym yet—will not be the first device capable of extracting oxygen from Martian water. That honor goes to the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or <a href="https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/instruments/moxie/" target="_blank">MOXIE</a>, which is en route to Mars onboard NASA's <a href="https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/" target="_blank">Perseverance</a> rover. The rover was launched on July 30, 2020. It will arrive on February 18, 2021, and will perform high-temperature <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrolysis_of_water" target="_blank">electrolysis</a> to extract pure oxygen, but no hydrogen.</p><p>In addition to being able to capture hydrogen, the WashU system can even do a better job with oxygen than MOXIE can, extracting 25 times as much from the same amount of water.</p><p>The new system has no problem with Mars' magnesium perchlorate-laced water. On the contrary, the researchers say it ultimately makes their system work better since such high concentrations of salt keep water from freezing on such a cold a planet by lowering the liquid's freezing temperature to -60 °C. He adds it may "also improve the performance of the electrolyzer system by lowering the electrical resistance."</p><p>Cold itself is no issue for the WashU system. It's been tested in a sub-zero (-33 ⁰F, or -36 ⁰C) environment that simulates Mars'.</p><p>"Our novel brine electrolyzer incorporates a lead <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0926337318311299" target="_blank">ruthenate pyrochlore</a> <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anode" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">anode</a> developed by our team in conjunction with a platinum on carbon <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathode" target="_blank">cathode</a>," explains Ramani. He adds, "These carefully designed components coupled with the optimal use of traditional electrochemical engineering principles has yielded this high performance."</p>
Back home<p>"This technology is equally useful on Earth where it opens up the oceans as a viable oxygen and fuel source," Ramani notes. His colleagues forsee potential applications such as producing oxygen in deep-sea habitats with ample water available, such as underwater research facilities and submarines.</p><p>The study's joint first author Pralay Gayen says that "having demonstrated these electrolyzers under demanding Martian conditions, we intend to also deploy them under much milder conditions on Earth to utilize brackish or salt water feeds to produce hydrogen and oxygen, for example, through seawater electrolysis."</p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Pfizer's vaccine needs to be kept at -100°F until it's administered. Can caregivers deliver?
- Fair distribution of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines is especially challenging because they need to be stored at extremely cold temperatures.
- Back in 2018, the WHO reported that over half of all vaccines are wasted worldwide due to lack of cold storage, and they were only talking about vaccines that need to be chilled or kept at standard freezer temperatures.
- Real-time logistics data, location tracking, and information about movements are crucial to track shipment progress, product temperature and other conditions.