World Notes

Emotional identity theft - the psychological challenge of the Facebook era


Have you been a responsible citizen of the internet and used Facebook’s highest privacy settings?  Too bad, because Facebook has recently admitted privacy leaks in many of their applications – including their top 10 most popular. All told, some 70 percent of Facebook users are at risk for identity theft. 
The risk for emotional identity theft, however, could be 100 percent.

With one out of 14 people worldwide on Facebook – and more on social media sites like MySpace – social media has become a buffet for organizations that profit from personal information, even (especially) information that the person involved doesn’t know they have. At the same time, social media has become the heart of social interchange in today’s bustling world. For all our concerns about privacy on Facebook, nobody ever thinks of logging off for good.  How could you?  It’s where your “friends” are.

This combination of increasingly insecure information in a venue (social media) that is increasingly important to the emotional lives of its users creates a thoroughly modern paradox:

For most of human history the people you could trust most were the ones in your social network.  Today you social network is the least trustworthy confidant you can possibly have. 

Even if you communicate offline, there a good chance that a photo, blog post, or tweet will somehow commemorate the event to the world.

Two basic human needs – to socialize and to feel secure in ones emotional bonds – are being pitted against each other as the kind of emotional betrayal that was once deemed a travesty has now become a “feature.”  The need to protect oneself against “emotional identity theft” is quickly coming up for everyone who is plugged in to modern technology.

How do we do that?  More importantly, how do we do that without wrecking the rest of our emotional lives?  This is a question 21st century psychology needs to be addressing – and largely isn’t. 

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The solution to bullying might be the bully


By now you’ve heard about the vicious bullying of children. 

Tyler Clementi of Rutgers made his plea for help via online forums and a video blog. Asher Brown, 13 Seth Walsh 13, Phoebe Prince and Justin Aaberg all committed suicide after enduring years of bullying by their classmates. 

The suffering these children had to endure was outrageous – but part of the reason we’re so outraged is also that we don’t know how to make it stop.  And we’ve tried everything.

Well, almost everything. 

Our responses to bullying have given victims a full range of compassion, empathy, study, insight, and action – and it hasn’t worked.  Our responses to the bullies themselves, however, has been simple:  condemn and punish. 

This is understandable.  Who doesn’t want to make these kids pay for what they’ve done?  But if it’s counter-productive … if bullies also need approaches marked by insight, study, and empathy … then maybe swallowing our disgust for the sake of tomorrow’s victims is the right thing to do.

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Every mine is a mining disaster


Two months and 33 rescued miners later, the mine disaster in San Jose, Chile has come to a close. In what is believed to be the most extensive rescue effort in history, thirty-three miners were individually brought to the surface by a fifty-centimeter Phoenix capsule, from nearly two thousand feet below the dessert floor.

The collapse and rescue in Chile received national media coverage. Not every mine disaster does – even if they’re bigger.  In 2009 alone, China reported 6,995 known mining fatalities; while in the United States the mine collapse at the Upper Big Branch Mine on April 5 was the deadliest in over twenty six years.

Accidents in China, Chile, and West Virginia; What will it take to make us reconsider our dependence on a fuel that is not only unsustainable but deadly to the workers told to cut it out of the earth?

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Creating a true food democracy


No food movement can be truly sustainable if it doesn’t take the rights and needs of the people who pick, process, and prepare the food into account.

Saybrook Organizational Systems faculty member Erica Kohl-Arenas explains on Triple-Pundit.

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The five stages of coping with sustainability


We all know we should eat right and exercise, but most of us don’t – and it’s not because we don’t understand the science.

The same dynamic works with sustainability initiatives at even the most progressive companies, according to Dennis Jaffe: going green can be more challenging emotionally than it is intellectually. Companies that don’t take this into account are often headed for trouble.

Read more in his recent Triple Pundit article.

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Moving beyond "Sustainability as Usual"


The same kind of thinking that got us into an environmental catastrophe won't be able to get us out of it. 

According to the research of Kathia Laszlo, who co-directs Saybrook's Organizational Systems MA program in Leadership of Sustainable Systems, it will take a new kind of thinking to get our society working on the sustainable basis we know we need. 

Perhaps the most important point:  understanding that sustainability is a process, not a certification. 

Read more in her recent article at TriplePundit.

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