#146 – The Individual vs. The Collective on The Internet



This audio is from an invited presentation I recently gave at Sonoma State University. The class is called Person in Society and it is being taught by Dr. Shepherd Bliss who I interviewed on Shrink Rap Radio #82 almost a year ago exactly. I was interested in exploring the impact of new communication and social networking technologies on the lives of these students. I wanted my presentation to be as interactive as possible and, after my introductory remarks, the students made a number of excellent comments. The whole session ran a bit long. I’ve tried to shorten it by taking out several sections of me talking about Shrink Rap Radio and podcasting generally. I hope you find it of some interest. I promised to make internet stars of those students who spoke up!

(Psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.)



  1. Penny
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed this show (ok, I enjoy them all!) particularly because I work with college students and am equally concerned about their electronic isolation. I may be one of the few people they’ll have a face-to-face conversation with in a single day.

    On a lighter note, I’m always on the lookout for images of the new “age”, the Age of Aquarius, and your observation of the group collectives such as MySpace, Facebook, and Second Life, are images I had overlooked. The individual vs. the collective is very much the theme of the “new age” and thank you for pointing those out! (Another image is the one of EVERYONE walking around with a cup in their hand – emblematic of Aquarius, the Cupbearer!)

    Thanks and take care,

  2. Rick Vail
    Posted April 27, 2008 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    I gotta say that shrinkrap radio has brought up stuff I would have never thought to think about. Fun show!

  3. Axel
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    This one was really fascinating for me. Thank you very much. I’d love to listen for another hour or two of that show.

  4. Brad Jacobson
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I greatly enjoyed this episode as well. However, it seemed like the discussion meandered in the direction of mostly negatives towards the end of the show. Would have liked to hear more on the positive ways the internet, networking sites, etc. are helping people connect and improving lives. It seemed to me that professor Bliss’s biases may have colored the students’ perceptions a bit.
    Dr Dave-could you please direct me to any of the live shows that pick up on this topic?


  5. John Knight
    Posted December 7, 2009 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    This is a topic that’s been of great interest of me over the last year or so. Especially in regards to social networking, I think many people just see the machine or the interface, and don’t see the implications beyond it.
    The aspect of privacy was mentioned, which is a key part in that if you think about it, we’re actually entering another phase of communications, but we haven’t yet established a set of social rules around it. In the end, social networking is like living in a world without walls, and our society is inevitably heading towards that ideal, whether we like it or not.
    However, we haven’t evolved around that idea yet, so we’re having a new form of society thrust upon us, but we haven’t learned/decided on the language and the etiquette for such a society. So our current phase is essentially formative, anarchy, undeveloped; because we are in one mode of thinking and ideals from an ‘old world’, and it will probably take and entire generation (as in 25 years or so) until we’ve established some sort of society-like equilibrium in this new world.

    For anyone interested in this existential side of net-communications, check out the Japanese anime series Serial Experiments: Lain. It’s a ‘must see’ for any Jungian analysts in particular, and is as ground breaking as such titles as The Matrix. But please, watch it in Japanese with subs – the English dubbing is gross.

  6. Michelle
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I got to say that I was relieved when the female gamer in the class spoke up. I don’t know if the ppl who spoke about technical advancement as something more or less evil were doing it with addiction in mind, or if it was meant in a general way.

    Why are we so afraid of trying new things? There has to be a trial-and-error-period with all new inventions. We cannot fathom what direction these new technical things will lead us: advanced surgery performed by surgeons that are somewhere else than their patients, all the information from the Arab rebellions now that can’t be stopped thanks to the Net.

    I don’t think we can stop technical advancement; people will always strive to create new things or try to better the ones that already exist. Thanks to the Internet I learn something new every day. Since I’m a student I can find all the information I need online. Social media helps me to not lose touch with my friends, since most of my time goes to my studies. I am also (but not at the moment) a gamer; World of Warcraft has given me many new friends and they live in quite different places. When you’re gaming, especially when you raid (it means that you are playing together with other people and solving gaming tasks together with them), you have to collaborate in order to be successful. You have to interact and when you’re doing something with people it is a lot easier and less awkward way to get to know them.

    The Internet can be abused, but it is not the technology, it is WE who aren’t flawless. If people are happy, have fulfilling lives, have good relations to others – there’s no need to misuse the new stuff that is here. IMO nostalgia can be equally dangerous.

    Michelle in Stockholm

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