5530 Hammer Paper

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Hypothesis:
Technologically motivated social etiquette would change as a result of the invention of a device that could quickly transport physical matter, including living matter over distance — a transporter.

Introduction:
Today’s technology affords us more opportunities to connect with each other than ever before. These affordances also introduce new behavioral patterns and opinions on social etiquette. I will be looking at three specific behaviors: uninhibited social media commenting, phone usage while with company and inappropriate texting, and how these behaviors might manifest with the use of a transporter. The constant underlying theme is the lack of physicality and its influence on our behavior and sense of accountability. The transporter would close this gap and that might affect how people interact with each other and how different scenarios would play out when these three social interactions take place. To begin this project we must start with understanding social etiquette and what that means to society. Social etiquette is a system of rules that help us feel comfortable with each other. If people adhere to this accepted set of manners we feel more confident in their behavior, especially in public.1 I started by mapping social etiquette within technology, specifically what is acceptable versus unacceptable. After narrowing it down to the three specific behaviors mentioned above I proceeded to dissect them to understand their root cause. Once I have the possible psychological drivers of this behavior I present various scenarios where behaviors might change with the introduction of a transporter.

Mapping Etiquette:
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Terrence Loves’ meta-theoretical structure of the transporter: 

Direct Perceptions of reality:
A person can travel faster than with current technology. An idea of immediate physical change in location.

Description of objects:
Computer system. Designated area of use.

Behavior of elements:
Matter is broken down in a transferable way and then reassembled.

Mechanisms of choice:
A person would use it for immediate satisfaction of a want concerning physical location.

Design Methods:
Scientists as well as physicists would need to solve the problem of breaking down matter to a form that can be transferred.

Design Process Structure:
The design of this object would need to consider where it will be used and the cost. Is this something that would be in a person’s personal space or community gatherings?

Theories of internal processes:
Internal processes would include discussions among scientist developing it as well as philosophers about it’s usage and possibly governments as it pertains to security.

General Design Theories:
General theory would be to allow humans or tangible objects to be at a new location instantly without the current time restrictions of travel.

Epistemology of Design:
The idea that we can manipulate our ability to be somewhere faster than our physical bodies can take us.

Ontology of Design:
Inherent behaviors will emerge due to the development of a transporter.

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Research Methods:
To predict the impact of the transporter secondary research will need to be done. There will need to be analysis of people’s behavior and how it has changed over the development of these technologies. The following research methodologies would allow for more accurate predictions.

Historical research
Review people’s behaviors and how they have changed as different technologies became available.

Correlational Research
Look at behaviors and how they relate and/or are caused by the technology being used.

Ethnographic Research
Review the cultural construct around technology usage along with the manners that society has set.

Questions:
I decided to ask why people commit these behaviors as well as why people think it is rude because the only constant I can be sure of in this futuristic world will be human nature. People’s actions will always be motivated or at least influenced by their emotions. If these questions can unveil the root cause of the behavior it might be possible to predict an outcome once a transporter is introduced.

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Scenario one: On the phone while with company

Taking a call 30 years ago usually involved excusing ourselves and locating a land-line. Now, with our current technology, cell phones are everywhere and most of us have one on us at all times. They have become unavoidable and can lead to questionable behavior when it comes to etiquette, behavior that would be considered uncouth according to societal norms.2 An example of this behavior is using the phone while with company. Deconstructing this action to its root cause leads me to believe that the psychological reasoning for people doing this could be because they feel unfulfilled in their current situation, possible guilt because of their need to be wanted by others or an inflated sense of self. Some argue that people inherently want to be rude. That it gives an air of importance.3 People that are subjected to this behavior consider it uncivil and inconsiderate, but why? I would argue that it makes them feel invisible and worthless. If we fast-forward into the future and introduce transporter technology the root drivers of the behavior might not change but behavioral outcomes within the scenario could.

The following are different transporter scenarios:
Person A = person taking the call
Person B = person in their company

  • Person A  could transport out and leave their company completely the same way their attention leaves them now with a cell phone. This could lead to Person B being even more irritated. If their irritation persists they might discontinue their friendship or continue to put up with it, extending their patience. If someone now takes a call it is likely that Person B will hang around and wait for Person A to get off the phone. If we have access to a transporter it could be possible that Person B transports out as well.
  • The person calling could transport in unannounced and interrupt Person A and Person B. This would change the dynamics of how Person A and Person B interact. If the parties involved did not get along this might lead to an escalation in conflict possibly becoming physical. The possibility of this altercation because of the introduction of a transporter might change the behavior of Person A to “turn off” the transporter similar to the way some people turn off their phones now while with others.
  • If Person A takes a call and Person B is annoyed they might transport out of the situation while the other is on the phone. This might cause Person A to follow them in transport, leading to a sort of transport chase. This chase could lead to “beaming” into others company. Now, if we are in an argument with someone over the phone we just talk them directly. The introduction of the transporter means that there is the possibility of being in the physical presence of others that witness this argument. Etiquette might evolve where people specifically transport into the presence of others that would better their argument.

The possibility of transporter chases and popping in and out of conversations will lead people to expect more physical accountability from each other. Person A might not take the call, especially if there is the possibility of getting into an argument with multiple people at once. On the other hand, the immediacy a transporter would allow might introduce a new accepting mindset from Person B. An understanding might develop that transporting out really fast to speak with someone else is an acceptable normal behavior because they do it as well. Patience and manners will be tested with the introduction of a transporter and behavior will change. The question will be how far will it go. Will people that already practice inconsiderate behavior continue to and let it escalate with the new technology? Will people that find this behavior rude continue these relationships or do anything about it? I would argue that the rude and passive behavior would persist and be eventually accepted, similar to how it is now. There will still be some people that are appalled and will disassociate themselves from Person A but most will probably accept it as an annoying occurrence. In the early 1900’s some phone companies tried banning profanity from being used across phone lines because it was seen as inappropriate and rude.4 Now, depending on who you are talking to, profanity is acceptable in normal conversation. The acceptance of people transporting in and out of conversations will most likely evolve similar to taking a call while in the presence of company.

Scenario Two: Uninhibited posting on social media

My first post on Facebook right after creating my account in 2008 was “tired of working for the man.” I use this as an example because right after I posted it an old colleague left a comment saying, “you better be careful what you post.” I immediately felt anxious, suddenly I realized this wasn’t just a personal diary of random thoughts. I needed to be more aware of who was seeing my posts and how that would impact my “offline” life. Unfortunately, for some, this is not an awareness we share. Social media has become a virtual clothesline for dirty laundry. This act of oversharing has less to do with the information we are posting but more to do with the mentality behind it.5 In analyzing why people do this, I would argue that they have an inflated sense of self or possibly a false sense of invisibility. I know, for me, I thought, “who cares what I post,” but these comments are a new form of personal record. They directly impact other people. They can make readers uncomfortable because the person posting them is not adhering to the social norms of behavior. They are crossing boundaries that make their behavior unpredictable and make readers feel like they have no control. The person reading the post could also have an inflated sense of self because they are concerned with other’s opinions about who they associate with and these inappropriate posts might reflect on their character. Knowing the possible mentality behind the action and reaction of this behavior the use of a transporter might create interesting scenarios.

The following are different transporter scenarios:
Person A = person posting on social media
Person B = person reading the post

  • If Person A makes a disparaging comment about Person B it could be possible for Person B to transport in to confront that person. If it is seen by friends of Person B and they decide to transport in it could escalate to a physical altercation. Because of a transporter, Person A might not post these comments, unlike now.
  • If Person A is drunk at a party and posts a comment about it Person B could transport in and try to influence or take advantage of Person A. This could impact how safe Person A feels about posting such comments. The possibility of a transporter could also allow Person B to quickly leave with Person A. Now, some parties have rules where you check your keys at the door so that you do not drive inebriated. Transporter possibilities may mean parties are invite only and transporting in and out is monitored.
  • Person A tweeting about their latest bowl movement6 might keep Person B from transporting in at all. The need for Person A to share this information so freely might mean that when a transporter is introduced Person B develops heightened social filters. The ease of a transporter would allow Person B more options of who they associate with.
  • If Person A posts about being under the influence of illegal drugs and Person B notifies the authorities. They might transport in and arrest them. This could lead to more censored posting by Person A.
  • If Person A continuously posts their thoughts on a certain subject or political topic Person B could transport in to tell them off or a group of people that disagree with them might. This might fuel a mob mentality. This might lead to Person A or B vetting their friends better.

The introduction of the transporter will have an impact on how people think about their online communication. The false idea of invisibility would be lost once the implications of their uncensored posts resulted in more immediate physical repercussions. People that might have previously posted disparaging comments might not post the same comment in the future because they could be immediately confronted. Using the scenarios above, Person A could be faced with consequences affecting their self, belongings or rights. Law enforcement is already trolling social media accounts in search for illegal activity. In 2009 a 19-year-old student at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse friended an undercover officer on Facebook. The officer later ticketed the student for underage drinking after seeing a picture posted on their page.7 Social media is an enormous influencer and has a history of being a catalyst to extreme behavior such as the Arab Spring rebellion, fueling protests across international borders.8 The opportunity for action to be taken in reaction to the above behavior is likely and in turn might cause Person A to think twice before posting that they are “tired of working for the man.”

Scenario Three: inappropriate texting

Texting is a popular form of communication, so popular a University of Maryland study compared it to being similar to a drug addiction. One in three teens send or receive over 100 texts a day. The same teens might only receive 5 actual phone calls.9 The casual dialogue you might have shared in phone conversations is now taking place over text. It is not surprising that these texts might be inappropriate at times. Technology is developing faster than etiquette can be adopted and texting is a prime example of this. The opportunity to overstep personal boundaries is now at our fingertips. The reason why people feel free to do this might be because of a lack of self-awareness, a general misunderstanding of acceptable behavior or a false sense of invisibility. There is an added removal of one self when they do not have to hear the reaction of the person on the receiving end. The person receiving the text might feel uncomfortable or powerless. The fact that the person sending the text does not recognize the others boundaries, and there is electronic proof makes the receiver feel out of control and disrespected. A transporter has the potential to empower the receiver or escalate the problem.

The following are different transporter scenarios:
Person A = person inappropriately texting
Person B = person receiving the text

  • Person B could misinterpret an inappropriate text from Person A and transport in. If the text was innocently flirtatious and Person B took it literal it might cause an awkward encounter. With texting this awkwardness might be dismissed more easily with not responding but a transporter would cause people to address the behavior and a set of boundaries might be better established.
  • Person A is inappropriately texting with Person B and someone such as a spouse sees it, the spouse could possibly transport in and confront one or both. This could lead to a physical altercation or the end of a relationship. A transporter might cause Person A to better monitor their texting to Person B.
  • If Person A inappropriately texts Person B, a co-worker, they might report them. This behavior now might be easier to dismiss by Person B because the person’s physical self is removed but with the possibility of a transporter and the harassment escalating Person B might be more inclined to take action. The etiquette among the office and relationships might be more strict with a transporter.
  • If Person A is bullying Person B via text and Person B’s family becomes aware of it they might transport in to discuss the situation. This might change texting as an outlet for bullying. With the threat of people possibly transporting in to confront Person A the use of texting as a scare tactic might lessen.

Texting lets people get to the point, there is no awkward silence and it can facilitate a response faster than a voicemall. The popularity of it also makes it a prime opportunity for inappropriate behavior. The fact that a younger audience has fully adopted it with little to no guidelines about etiquette from an older generation exasperates the problem. The introduction of a transporter would create different behavioral outcomes in certain situations but overall I do not believe it would cause a paradigm shift in how people react to each other when dealing with inappropriate texts. It might resemble scenario one where people either choose to put up with the behavior or disassociate themselves completely. The reason for this might be because of the limited number of parties involved, unlike scenario two where the behavior is displayed for the world to see and a possible reaction from the masses can occur. Numbers are an important factor here. There is power in them and a major shift in behavior might require more than the interaction of two people at a time. The other concept to address when analyzing the impact a transporter would have on social etiquette is nature versus nurture. Is the behavior going to be adopted because we are predisposed to it through current technological advancements or will the use of it shape our behaviors? Similar to current technology I imagine it will be a combination of the two. We might seamlessly integrate the annoyances for the added benefit of convenience.

Since the transporter does not exist and it is unclear exactly how society will react to it I am forced to do speculative research. Similar to the way Laura Forlano approached her doctoral research on the wireless Internet before it was a part of everyday life, designers have to be forward thinkers. We have to develop strategies that give us insight to cultures and behavior before a technology is widely adopted.10 This insight can help us ask better questions and realize more possibilities. The three scenarios discussed are only a slice of the current behaviors happening as the result of our technological advances. With the invention of a transporter etiquette will change. It is not apparent how yet but by analyzing the psychological root cause of current reactions to behaviors we might be able to project a possible outcome when a transporter is introduced. People will be held more physically accountable for their actions and this will make them more aware of the consequences these actions have. If a person is faced with the immediate physical presence of someone after posting a disparaging comment on social media and they are forced to apologize and accept the impact it has on the other person they might think twice before posting it. A transporter will also force people to better vet their friends or who they associate with. If there was the constant looming possibility of someone unwanted transporting in Person B might better choose who they associate with and it might not be the person that sends inappropriate texts or dismisses their attention so easily.

Notes:

  1. Western Oregon University. “Dining Etiqutte 101.”Accessed December 2013 from http://www.wou.edu/student/career/Post%20on%20SLCD%20Web/Etiquette%20Hand-Out.pdf
  2. wiseGEEK. “What is Cell Phone Etiquette?” Accessed November 2013 from http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-cell-phone-etiquette.htm
  3. Ian Bogost. (2013, August). “The Rudeness of Importance.” Retrieved December 2013 from http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-forward/2013/08/30/cellphone-rudeness/
  4. Matthew Lasar. (2010, August). “Keep mustache out of the opening: a history of phone etiquette.” Retrieved November 2013 from http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2010/08/what-would-emily-post-say-about-droids-in-cafes/
  5. Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa Endlich Heffernan. (2013, Decmeber). “Oversharing: Why Do We Do It and How Do We Stop?” Retireved December 2013 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/grown-and-flown/oversharing-why-do-we-do-it-and-how-do-we-stop_b_4378997.html
  6. Oversharers. Retrieved Novemeber 2013 from http://www.oversharers.com/
  7. Mark Dice. (2010, July). “Undercover Police on Your Facebook Friends List?” Retrieved December 2013 from https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note+id=136053739749990
  8. Andrew Lam. (2012, September). From Arab Spring to Autumn Rage: The Dark Power of Social Media” Retreieved on December 2013 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-lam/social-media-middle-east-protests-_b_1881827.html
  9. Derek Schlom. (2010, April). “Texting habits change as students age, studys show.” Retrieved on December 2013 fm http://www.tuftsdaily.com/texting-habits-change-as-students-age-study-shows-1.2241582#.UqBHD5TwLhk
  10. Laura Forlano. (2013 September) “Ethnographies from the Future: What can ethnographers learn from science fiction and speculative design?” Retrieved December 2013 from http://ethnographymatters.net/2013/09/26/ethnographies-from-the-future-what-can-ethnographers-learn-from-science-fiction-and-speculative-design/