It’s an all-American sport and it has all the social and cultural characteristics of what we think of as ballet.” (Emphasis added)
This is a common theme in the writings of Dr. James E. O’Keefe, who holds the rank of professor of social psychology at the University of Florida.
In 1998, O’Keefe published “How Social Networks Matter” in the journal of the American Psychological Association. Here, he writes that “an intense social network (whether it is based on family, neighborhood, work contacts, or other relationships) may alter what we think, feel, and do.”
One of the more startling quotes he delivers is a bit like this:
“We have been inundated with reports of violence, drugs, and alcohol. We have seen the results of social media, and we see the consequences today in how the world’s young people behave.” (Emphasis added)
The quote also refers to the effect of these networks on the development of criminal behavior, but that is not the only connection O’Keefe makes. O’Keefe wrote that “anyone in your social network, including close friends and acquaintances, has access to your intentions, ideas, feelings and actions.”
In response to the social psychologist’s quote, some people (myself included) said, “that is the definition of ‘brainwashing.'”
Well, Dr. O’Keefe responds that there is a difference between brainwashing and merely brainwashing and that we should look at these words differently. Brainwashing is “behavior of a person or group that aims to control or control its targets behavior.” What O’Keefe describes as “social network effect” is simply what we think of when we think of social networks. Social networks have the ability to manipulate what we think, feel, and do.
But what does O’Keefe recommend as a solution when a social network is manipulating our thoughts, feelings, and actions? O’Keefe says, “The answer must be to have less of it.” He also writes that “an increased network can be damaging. It can also serve purposes and promote good.” He gives examples as to how networks are destructive.
These things are so important to us that they have their own dedicated blog (here). So what has been the response to O’Keefe’s work, which is what we will describe here?
A group called the Association of Progressive Communications also published a book, Connecting the Dots: Social Media and the Brain
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