Psychology Of The Internet Essay Research Paper

Psychology Of The Internet Essay, Research Paper

Summary of the Book Today, the internet is a growing community. Millions of

people from all over the world go ?online? everyday to check email,

research, shop, or even just interact with someone halfway around the world. As

this community grows, so does the number of interactions between people. The

Psychology of the Internet examines the psychology of new behavior produced by

this novel method of human communication. It also delves into the business

sector of the internet and how certain companies are using this medium to

increase productivity within their companies and corporations. Analysis of the

Book The book provides several examples of how the internet can affect the

quality of an organization?s production. When used in the appropriate manner,

the internet can facilitate interaction between a group 24 hours a day and is

only limited by the availability of a telephone line. The idea that a person

must be in work and at his desk for production is becoming more obsolete as

companies realize the potential of the internet. One impressive way the internet

can help companies is the workgroups that can be formed internationally. A

workgroup is a group of employees striving to achieve the same objective. In the

traditional sense, these groups are formed in a room with notepads for each

person to help them brainstorm and meetings at regular intervals until the

project is complete. The internet revolution is changing all of that. The

workgroups are no longer governed by the geographical positioning of its

members. I found this particularly interesting because the idea of having a

supervisor in Manila, a Research and Development team in Cebu, and a sales group

in the United States is becoming more of a feasible possibility than ever

before. The internet can also help employees overcome inhibitions that they may

not be able to in person. This is due, in part, to the amount of social cues

that are lost over a computer. In a chat room, for example, the two employees

might know nothing about each other, other than the information they provide

about themselves. Therefore, any type of social stereotypes (i.e. sexism,

racism, bigotry) is less prevalent than if perceived in the real world. If the

employees have never met, social irritations may not be as readily triggered

than if in person. For example, if I am irritated by a person who stutters when

he speaks, the chances that he will do so over the internet are relatively low.

This allows me to concentrate solely on the task at hand and not be distracted

by insignificant things. The book speaks of how the internet groups, in the

absence of social cues and orders, had to find a group identity online. In other

words, the lack of social cues also has its drawbacks. Even if the members of

the workgroups concede personal information about themselves, such as their race

or ethnicity, the other members might have no physical basis for the connection.

So if I wanted to bond with a co-worker who was a Filipino in California, I

would more likely do it in person than online. This is due to the lack of human

contact and the perception that I am merely interacting with my computer and not

a real person. With this in mind, workgroups must find new bases for forming

group coherence. The book speaks of the studying of several different

multinational workgroups. All were given the same objectives to be completed in

a given amount of time. However, only a few of the groups completed the task

while only one group did it in the allotted amount of time. The study showed

that the groups that failed lacked consistent interaction. After the initial

meeting, the members of the group did not log on regularly to converse with the

group. Emails were exchanged intermittently among these groups as well. The book

states that the main reason these groups failed was that the interaction,

already reduced by the lack of human interaction on the computer, was limited to

almost nothing. On the other hand, the group that fared the best was noted as

having the most email interaction and regular group meetings. The members of the

group also took it upon themselves to go beyond what was asked of them simply

because they felt a great responsibility to the group as a whole. What caused

this desire and cohesion within the group? According to the book, the group kept

their personal lives out of the online chatting. Therefore, the members knew

very little about the members of the group. The group even agreed to keep their

gender out of the online group. This forced its members to assume that each of

the other members formed the most productive group in which that person could

perform. For example, if I felt that I could work best with three women and two

other men, that became my group. If my coworker preferred working with all

women, that became his group. The breakdown of things immediately evident in the

real world (such as gender) allowed the members a novel way of looking at the

group. I found this breakdown of social norms within a company to increase

production intriguing. The thought of perceiving my group as highly competent in

their own methods of production would drive me to do my best. If this is coupled

with the idea that I could communicate with them at any time of the day from

anywhere in the world, I would feel that I had little excuse to not produce

something of great quality. After all, if my work could follow me around, I

couldn?t say, ?I was stuck in traffic, so I couldn?t get that report

in,? or ?I didn?t have the time to do it.? My time to work is actually

increased by not having to commute to work for two hours everyday. Furthermore,

if I was not a morning person, I could work all night and sleep all morning. My

workplace now conforms to me and not myself to it! Furthermore, the online

groups provided for better brainstorming groups than ?in real life? groups (IRL

groups). The book theorized that during online discussions, members are allowed

to type uninterrupted by other people?s ideas. IRL groups, on the other hand,

were comprised of one speaker and several listeners. The ideas of the listeners

had to wait until it was their turn. Online members could type in their ideas,

respond to other ideas proposed, and remain uninterrupted in the expression of

their opinions. The uninhibited flow of ideas provided for more creative

solutions to problems and a faster completion of the objectives as well. In the

flow of ideas, I have often had to hold my tongue while others spoke. Likewise,

I am sure others have remained silent while I have spoken. This is terribly

inefficient if one thinks about it. The IRL group brainstorming, although it is

supposed to be more efficient with the increase input by its members, forces

people to not speak their ideas. The ideas can be forgotten and lost in the

process. Moreover, it decreases the productivity of the listeners. It can even

create hostility within the group. The forcing of inhibition of ideas causes me

to become less receptive to others? ideas and even hostile towards them

because they are an obstacle to my expression. No such problem exists in an

online group where ideas flow as freely as a person can type. I find this method

to be much more ideal for the creation of ideas as well as creative solutions. A

final interesting aspect of the internet in the workplace is the opinions of the

minority, as shown in the following passage: On the surface, we might suppose

that a person who holds a dissenting opinion from the rest of the [online]

workgroup would fee freer to express that opinion in the online setting?

[However,] it appears that dissenters do feel more liberated to express their

views online than off but their online remarks have less influence on the rest

of the group. (82) I found this to be interesting because it is something that I

would not have predicted. The entire section in the book demonstrates how the

online workgroup can aid in the expression of ideas by its members. It would

only be logical to believe that the minority would have a louder voice in an

online group as well. I suppose, though, that since everyone?s voice gets

louder, the minority?s voice should not have a significant change from its IRL

group counterpart. Applications in the Philippine Context As a developing

nation, the Philippines has little access to the internet compared to other

developed nations. Considering that only about 1 in 50 people have telephones,

it is no surprise that the internet business application is not as prevalent

here as it is in the United States. However, for the privileged few, online

workgroups have the potential to increase the productivity of its workers in

several ways. One such benefit is the application of online groups using the

group mentality of the Filipinos. As a culture, the Filipinos are very

group-oriented. This follows into the workplace. The groups formed in person

could easily be translated to the internet workgroups with people around the

world. As adept group workers, although the medium may be new, the concept

behind it has been ingrained in Filipinos since they were born. In this way, we

have the upper hand in the translation of one attribute to a new medium compared

to other isolated cultures. Another benefit of the online workgroup for the

Filipinos is the situation of overseas contract workers. As a culture, we

readily export our labor to other nations. However, the exported labor is

distant from helping our nation (aside from sending foreign currency back). The

online workgroup medium allows workers on the other side of the world

communicate their ideas back to the Philippines affordably and quickly. Oil

drilling companies in Micronesia can communicate the effective methods of

drilling back to the companies here. Nurses can relate the newest methods of

healing to hospitals in the provinces. Filipinos in the Philippines can even

export their ideas to help companies outside the nation. The possibilities of

working in groups over great distances are infinite. The online workgroup can

even help our own university. If the students of the Ateneo could work with

students from Harvard University, Yale University, and the University of Tokyo,

the possibilities would be endless. The sharing of cultural ideas along with

ideas unique to each school?s train of thought would allow provide prestige

for each university. Ideas could flow and be applied to the situations of each

university. For example, if in Yale they need to study plants indigenous to

tropical regions, who better to conduct the study than an Environmental Science

student of the Ateneo? And if we all wanted to work on a study of the sun?s

behavior at different places around the globe, the internet online group would

be the perfect medium to produce a quality piece of research. Once again, the

possibilities are infinite! Lastly, the online workgroups could help the

Philippines play a larger role in the world community. Right now, the

Philippines plays a very limited role in what happens in the world. Allowing our

diplomats and government agencies to work online with other countries?

diplomats and agencies would provide the Philippines a louder voice than right

now. The opinions of the Filipinos could be heard throughout the world and allow

for a larger influx of ideas into the Philippines. International policies and

legislation could be passed with Filipinos having contributed to them. When the

book spoke about online group members, it made no limitation as to who the

members could be. With this in mind, the members of the online group could

easily be entire nations! Conclusion The role of the internet workgroup is very

applicable in the workplace today. It can increase productivity by providing

certain attributes absent in an IRL setting. Furthermore, I believe that it can

not only help multinational companies, but entire nations. The Philippines,

although it is still developing economically, can play a major role in the world

community just because the internet provides a more level ground from which

everyone can begin. As long as a person has a computer and a telephone line, the

world can become one large community to him. This book provides the starting

point from which the internet workgroup can become more effective. The

possibilities are only bounded by the limits of the human mind and ingenuity.


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