Identifying Attitudes Through
Newsgroups Messages
My Impressions on Reading Newsgroups


Table of Contents:

Instructions for Report 1

Introduction

How Newsgroups are Described in the Generational Curriculum

Attitudes and Newsgroups

Is there a Moral Crisis in Driving Attitudes?

Conclusion



Instructions for Report 1



1. Introduction:
My First Impression of
DejaNews Newsgroups...


(a)
When I first clicked onto DejaNews search engine, and typed in the topic "aggressive drivers", I was in a lost world. I was confused with what to click on, or how to get back on the main screen, or even how to read the messages (DUH!?!). Finally, with the help of my fellow G7 friends, I learned to search through Newsgroups. Even though Newsgroups was a challenge to learn and understand, I feel it holds a purpose for others to speak their minds. I thought that this web site only held informative information of various topics, but little did I know that Newsgroups dealt with people voicing their own opinions on other visitors' comments. Take for instance, the topic on "aggressive drivers", from one person's comment, other visitors expanded the topic with their "two cents", then another visitor may add in their own experience that relates to the subject, and so forth...Basically, a Newsgroup is a group of people with a common interest, sharing thoughts and ideas, or questions over the internet.


(b)
In the search for "aggressive drivers", some names of Newsgroups that I came along were rec.homor.oracle.d,alt.fan.e-t-b, rec.autos.4x4 (Ford Expedition--Downfall of American Society), and rec.autos.makers.ford.mustang ("Aggressive Drivers or Moron Drivers"/"New Debate: Aggressive Drivers"/"Defensive Drivers not Aggressive Drivers"/"Warning!"). While reading through these Newsgroups, I must say my reactions varied from surprised, to disgusted, to hilarious, and to stupidity. I felt that some messages gave helpful advice to drivers and pedestrians on the road, while others stated mumble-jumble crap just for the hell of it. Of these different Newsgroups, I found that they were semi similar due to the fact that people were speaking for or against aggressive drivers. I could sense a bit of hostility towards those so-called rude aggressive drivers, and at the same time, hostility towards those safety, cautious drivers. For instance, rec.homor.oracle.d,alt.fan.e-t-b Newsgroup held more sarcastic and humorous suggestions to make a little joke out of this situation. Unlike the other Newsgroups, such as rec.autos.4x4 and rec.autos.makers.ford.mustang, these messages carried a conversation within visitors about serious matters with "aggressive drivers". Basically it seems as if everyone is just wondering why drivers drive the way they do. Newsgroups serves as a function of communication world wide. People are able to voice their opinions on certain topics and visitors can exchange their ideas on what others say. Here, on the topic of "aggressive drivers", visitors are capable of understanding how other drivers think, and are capable of learning how to be a healthier driver to themselves and their fellow drivers. Newsgroups is a wonderful source of entertainment, you'll get your kicks out of it!


(c)
After viewing Newsgroups for several weeks, I come to realize that people all around the world suffer or are invaded by "aggressive drivers". I found that for most of those who post messages on Newsgroups sure have a great deal to say out in the open on how they feel about a certain topic, and those who reply to the messages can be very sympathetic and agreeable, or some can be sarcastic and heartless. I guess the good thing about Newsgroups is that people cannot see who's talking or complaining. No one can see who you are or where you are from. Maybe that is why it seems easier for visitors to speak their mind and say anything about certain topics.



2. How Newsgroups are Described in the Generational Curriculum:
Observing
G5 Students' Reports...


(a)
While viewing some of G5 students' report 1 on "The Social Psychology of Newsgroups, I could relate to their first impressions of Newsgroups. Feeling confused, lost, and suffering technophobia? Yup! I've been there, but thanks to some supportive friends, I am able to survive the fear of technology (I think?). First of all, when I linked onto G5 class homepage, I was surprised and happy to see a few of my friends' names listed. So, of course, the nosey me, I scrolled along their homepages and decided to include their names onto my report.


Erin Tanaka (G5)
Erin's report 1 heading states: "Exploring News on the Internet, Bodyart (rec.arts.bodyart) & Pets (rec.pets.dogs.breeds). She opened up with her first impression of Newsgroups--not knowing what it was, where to find it, how to find it. She, as well as everyone else, was lost due to the uncertainty of this experience. After getting familiarized with the web site, she engaged in searching various topics, such as bodyart and pets, and read messages that related to the topics. Then Erin took the big step forward as she actively participated in Newsgroups. Although she made some mistakes during her first try, it gave her more courage to post again, for practice makes perfect, right? Well, this time it worked. Erin replied on the rec.arts.bodyart Newsgroup to a girl who was interested in tribal design tattoos. Due to having her own tattoo, Erin gave the girl some excellent advice to browse through Hawaii's web site on tattoos because Hawaii is popular with the variety of tribal designs. Plus, through connections, a friend who did Erin's tattoo was able to send the girl a few designs that he had on hand. Now Erin has been receiving e-mail from other people, who read her message on Newsgroups, asking her to help them as well. In this case, Erin was able to use Newsgroups as a source of good advice to others around the world. Way to go Erin!


Ryan Shintani (G5)
Ryan's report 1 heading states: "Things that I Learned from alt.sports.football.pro.sf-49ers and alt.hypertext". He opened up with his first impressions of Newsgroups--telling stories about their sex life or their pets, and seeing Newsgroups as a waste of time. Now that Ryan has had a better outlook on Newsgroups, he is amazed at how many groups have the same interests as him. He states: "In the Newsgroups you talk to many different people and after a while you realize that they are just like any other group of friends that you might have, the only difference is that all of the members are thousands of miles apart and have never met in person before."
Ryan has picked the two Newsgroups due to 1) the 49ers being his favorite team and 2) hypertext helped answer some of his questions about HTML language and program. Within these two Newsgroups, Ryan has learned some important factors about posting messages. He informs us that visitors can be very opinionated, sometimes friendly and sometimes cruel. For instance, he posted a message on the alt.sports.football.pro.sf--49ers Newsgroup about how he felt about the team members, and the next day he got replies stating how stupid he was, what an idiot he was, and so forth. This concept is called flaming, which is a personal attack against your post. To Ryan, he enjoyed the arguments he received because he was able to fight back about his opinions and ideas without causing harm to himself. (Good point!). But not only are there negative replies, there are some friendly and positive replies, too! This concept is called spamming, which happens when you post something that is of great interest to many people. When this happens you will receive many responses to your post, but unlike flaming the responses are not negative.
One more interesting factor that Ryan pointed out to us was to use the brevity rule (one-topic-per-post rule). If the poster does not use this rule, their messages tend to be confusing, too long, and too boring. Long messages are not appealing. They do not catch the eyes of the visitors. That is why Ryan emphasis short messages-- they are eye catching, easy to read, and not hard to understand. Here in Ryan's report, he gave me a clearer outlook on what Newsgroups can be all about. Thank you Ryan!


Scott Chang (G5)
Scott's report 1 heading states: "Newsgroups Experiencing Basketball Newsgroups (rec.sports.basketball.college & rec.sports.basketball.pro). He opened up his first impressions of Newsgroups as what a change. Compared to four years ago when he was first introduced to the internet, till last year, he has seen much improvement and use of this technology. Scott mentions that a big part of the internet are Newsgroups. There are thousands and thousands of people using Newsgroups today to post specific interests in topics all around the world. Scott decided to pick two basketball Newsgroups because he enjoys basketball, plus basketball season was in its prime time. The National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament and the National Basketball Association playoffs were just around the corner. Being that those big events are coming around, I wanted to hear the latest gossips.
Before Scott could participate in posting messages, he had to learn some terms that were related to Newsgroups. First he encountered the word "threads". Threads are messages that are grouped in certain categories and then organized by the subject of the message. Then he was faced with "Re", which stood for reply to the message of a certain topic. Later he realized that he would re-read messages because he did not know how to keep track of the messages that he already read. To avoid reading over the same messages, he found that there were two markers: a red flag and a green diamond. When the green diamond column is clicked, you can un-bold name and subject, keeping track of which messages were read already. When the red flag column is clicked, it can mark messages that are worth looking back at. These two markers could surely save precious time. Believe me, it can be very confusing when you do not know which messages were already read. Other terms that Scott mentioned were flaming and spamming (which were already explained in Ryan's report).


(b)
I think that Newsgroups are a great source of communication. People can help others to understand certain situations, give advice on different topics, and give helpful suggestions and ideas on various subjects. (And some people can just be jerks by responding non-sense and stupid stuff). What seems totally amazing is that people are able to communicate on computers world wide. I am still in "aw" when I think of how quickly technology is growing. It makes me wonder what this world is coming to. If and when I have the courage to speak my mind on a Newsgroup topic, I think I will be addicted to this web site. It is like keeping with the times or the fad. Because I am a nosey person, I will probably scroll along the Newsgroups every so often to see what others have to say. So to answer the question, I can see myself as a Newsgroup lifetime participant because not only do you get to hear what others say, you can perhaps make a difference to someone out there in the world. (What a thought, huh?) But at this moment, I am still just a reader, and not poster of Newsgroups.



3. Attitudes and Newsgroups:
My attitude vs.Newsgroups'Attitudes...


Letting Out the Anger:


Subject: "Defensive Drivers" not "Aggressive Drivers"
From: "Greg Lomax"
Date: 1997/09/02
Message-ID: <01bcb7cc$e74c9b20$8cc162cf@yoda>
Newsgroups: rec.autos.makers.ford.mustang

OK, enough with the "Aggressive Drivers" are best crap. If you must know, the term you are searching for is, would you believe, is "Defensive Driver". This is the style of driving taught to the Police, Secret Service, FBI and the Military. In this style of driving the founding premise is that you should drive in such a manner that no matter who fucks up, you don't make it worse. If you took a course in "Defensive Driving" you would learn that, yes it is OK to pass on the right, but stay away from the dope in the left lane. Don't cut someone off, they may not handle it very well and cross the median killing dozens of people, and guess what, the cops will be looking for YOU! Many of the ideas put forth so far have been part of the Defensive Drivers philosophy, up to the point of retaliation. The idea is to get by/past/away from the idiot/psycho/nut ball without getting killed in the process. If you drive as if everyone is out to get you, you will be too paranoid to survive. If you drive like everyone is an OK driver and your only job is to not get involved, then you're a good driver. Aggressive drivers can be seen every day at the side of the road ranting and raving at the loony that got in their way. The Defensive Driver is the guy starting work or just getting home...
Greg Lomax


In this message, I get this vibe that Greg is tired of listening to people pointing their fingers at "aggressive drivers". He seems tired and irritated at hearing the same old stereotypes about "aggressive drivers". This posting allowed Greg to let out his anger and strongly state his difference between "aggressive drivers" and "defensive drivers".

Flaming:


Subject: Re: New Debate: "Aggressive Drivers"
From: lraymond@sisna.com
Date: 1997/08/24
Message-ID:
Newsgroups: rec.autos.makers.ford.mustang

Gaston Teran wrote:

I don't agree with everything you're saying. You mean some valid points but many aggressive drivers (like myself) do know what they're doing. I do flash the middle to many blue-hair women, but only to those who (in my opinion) don't know how to drive. For example, in a 3-lane highway with mid to low traffic, some people will sit at 70 in the high-speed lane. They can see me a mile away approaching from behind at 80. Why is the person doing 70 a problem? Unless you are on a 75-limit road, the person doing 70 is speeding, you certainly are if doing 80... Move! I'll flash the finger no matter who the driver is. Know the rules of the game, and know your place. By knowing your place, that means to know when to move. For example, if I'm doing 85 in the high-speed lane I'm not sitting thinking I'm "the bomb."

You are exactly the kind of idiot everyone on the road hates. You are one of "them," and you don't see it. Driving is not a game, and you do not make the rules. The rules have been legislated, and for you to exceed the speed limit and bully people around on the road in the course of your one-man mission of "I RULE," you endanger not only yourself, but others. Your attitude is rotten. If everyone was left to come up with their own rules, as you appear to have done, the roads would be even more dangerous than they are. Exercise some self-control and join those of us who don't pull dangerous stunts on the highways just because we have an ego that requires than we live dangerously.
Mike


Flaming is a personal attack to a posted message. In most cases, flaming is a negative reply. Those who get flamed only face cut-downs, and nothing totally threatening to their lives. They should not feel intimidated by those flamers because flamers just speak there mind as everyone else does on Newsgroups. Sometimes flaming responses are hostile in a stupid, idiotic way, and sometimes they are negative in a logical, judgmental way. As in the above posting message, Mike flamed Gaston due to his logical thinking about those "aggressive drivers" attitude. Obviously Gaston has that attitude that he has the upper hand, the power, and the eagerness to make other drivers move out of his way (or else the finger). Then Mike flames Gaston as being an idiot and having a rotten attitude. I do not blame Mike for flaming Gaston's message. He had it coming.

Sarcastic:


Subject: Re: Hello, hello...is this thing on
From: Eli the Bearded
Date: 1997/10/19
Message-ID:
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d,alt.fan.e-t-b

Sergej Roytman wrote:
Sergej Roytman, whose moss-green Jeep is considering a cow-catcher to keep any stray pedestrians from messing up its grill. And because it looks cool. As a New York pedestrian let me ask that you wash your car regularly. Nothing is more annoying than aggressive drivers with dirty cars. They get your hands and clothes dirty when you have to jump up on the hood or when you lean on them to avoid losing your balance.
Elijah


Elijah here posts a humorous, yet sarcastic message to those "aggressive drivers". He stereotypes aggressive drivers to be dangerous, not only to fellow drivers, but to pedestrians, too! I agree to his intention, because no matter what, pedestrians should always have the right of way, but in the minds of aggressive drivers, they feel they have the power.

"Dear Abby":


Subject: Re: OT: Henri Paul / Diana and the truth
From: "Suzanne"
Date: 1997/09/15
Message-ID: <01bcc205$96d815a0$f5d42299@default>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Martina,
I think the smartest thing to do with an aggressive driver tailgating you is to change lanes out of their way. Some might see this as submitting and capitulating, I see it as safe driving and staying alive. The roads are getting more dangerous every day. Aggressive drivers are now the number one (by far) cause of automobile accidents. I know it's hard to do, but we should all try to do it. (I will admit to not always getting out of their way, sometimes it is so threatening it makes a person very stubborn! But I will try to do it now always). Take care of yourself so you can live to cross stitch another day...
Suzanne


In this posting, I see Suzanne as a "Dear Abby" counselor. She gives in her inputs on what she feels will be safer when you are being pushed and shoved by aggressive drivers. She thinks of safer driving technique advice to those who are in danger of those road rage drivers. Suzanne also gives positive quotes as "Be safe and take care of yourself".
(d)
Through my eyes, I interpret the attitudes on Newsgroups as people's own personal opinion and ideas on various topics. In regards to the topic of "aggressive drivers" or "road rage", I sense some hostility from both the aggressive drivers and the safety drivers. There seems to be some negativity between both types of drivers' posting stink messages about each other. They both blame and complain about one another's driving techniques. These attitudes must come from feeling a bit of irritation, frustration, helplessness, and confusion. Irritation due to this problem(s) keeps on happening everyday. Frustration due to nothing ever changes for the better, but only worst. Helplessness due to not knowing what can be done to stop the problem(s). And confusion due to wondering why one drives the way he/she does, and wondering what the other driver is thinking and feeling. Not only are there negative and hostile attitudes on Newsgroups, there are also positive and pleasant attitudes. Even on the topic of "aggressive drivers" and "road rage", some people out there can relate humor to this issue. They reply messages with jokes and sarcastic remarks to sort of ease up the tension. (Or perhaps because they have nothing else better to do). Another positive attitude that comes out from this topic are pleasant, concerned, and helpful visitors who reply their ideas on what one can do when they encounter a road rager, or what aggressive drivers can try to do when they get behind the wheel. All these attitudes come about when searching the Newsgroups' messages on "aggressive drivers" and "road rage".
Since the attitudes towards the "aggressive drivers" and "road rage" topics varied between positive and negative, I felt the attitudes were revealed by a "freedom of speech" philosophy where anyone who enters the Newsgroups have the right to post whatever message, reply, comment, question, idea, or complaint he/she has about the topic. This is the window of opportunity for anyone to communicate and get insights from other people around the world. For instance, we can get great ideas and information from other states on how they deal with road ragers, or we can contribute our ideas on how we try to make driving safer for our community. Although we all have our freedom of speech in America, most people do not know how to express themselves--their feelings, thoughts, and ideas in front of the public. But now, by using the Newsgroups, shy and bold people are able to speak their minds publicly and worldwide, without being visible.
In relations to my "freedom of speech" philosophy revealed by the positive and negative attitudes from the "aggressive drivers" and "road rage" topics in Newsgroups, I feel there is a slight impact with our driving techniques in our society. Coming from my own experience here in Hawaii, I strongly believe that we have the most courteous and polite drivers than any other states. Most drivers use their blinkers, allow one to cut over, do not intentionally tailgate other cars, hardly ever honks the horn at fellow drivers, and waves "thank you" to those who let them in. And because our speed limit is not as fast as the Mainland, our drivers do not drive at an outrageous speed. But don't get me wrong, we do have aggressive drivers on our Hawaiian Islands, and sadly, it seems as if more and more people are becoming maniac drivers. Could this be happening because everyone is always late to get somewhere? Or is it because a car makes you feel powerful? Or is it because you hate driving so you show your negative attitudes towards your fellow drivers? Or is your attitude towards driving hereditary? Possibly these could be the reasons why there are aggressive drivers out there, but what can be done to reduce this problem? Perhaps the "aggressive drivers" and "road rage" topics in Newsgroups can reach out to people, especially road ragers to change their ways of driving and learn to be a healthier and safer driver.


4. Is There a Moral Crisis in Driving Attitudes?
Interpreting the Attitudes of Drivers...


(a)
Looking into Dr. Leon James Home Page under the section of Dr. Driving Says site, there is a link to Dr. Leon James' Congressional Testimony. Here you will encounter "The Subcommittee on Surface Transportation Hearing July 17, 1997--Road Rage: Causes and Dangers of Aggressive Driving". The purpose of this hearing is to review the causes of aggressive driving, the danger it presents to the driving public, and what action is being, or may be taken to combat this problem. The testimony focuses on the perceived causes of aggressive driving, ongoing research to further understand the problem, the various enforcement measures in place, and options for federal initiatives to address the problems.
(b)
In relations to what I had said in part 3d, where I interpreted my impression of the attitudes in Newsgroups regarding "aggressive drivers" or "road rage", I do believe there is a major behavioral problem with drivers all around the world. This problem affects all drivers, whether they are safety drivers or aggressive drivers. My question is what started all this wreck-less driving in the first place? This problem did not seem like a major issue 20 years ago. What has happened through the years?
According to the Congressional Testimony web site, it mentioned that aggressive driving has only recently been focused on as a national problem. Researchers believe that aggressive driving is more than an action; it is a behavioral pattern. Some causes listed in the Congressional Testimony that may trigger aggressive driving are 1) congestion on the highways, 2) territorial defensiveness, and 3) busy schedules. Looking at these three, I can see how times and people have changed. For instance, the population has been growing tremendously with all the baby boomers. The increase numbers of cars on the roads causes traffic that people do not like to sit in. A study reported that increasingly crowded highways and busier schedules have made drivers more frantic and hostile. True so true. Everyone wants to be able to get in their car and get to their destination as soon as possible.
Due to the fact that times are changing, and people are changing, society has been struck with this old phenomenon that is becoming deadly. The behavior and attitude that comes out of aggressive drivers are hostile, violent, and intimidating to the other drivers. Everyone has the same goal when they get into a car; that is to get to their destination safely. Those who are aggressive drivers should learn to control their temper and learn not to take things so personally. Relax and enjoy the ride.



5. Conclusion:
Advice to the Future Generations...


(a)
Newsgroups is a growing technology process that is being used worldwide to express ones attitude towards certain issues. To me, Newsgroups is a power of each and everyone's freedom of speech. Not only is Newsgroup capable of letting people speak their minds, but it also allows people to communicate to the world on-line. It is a simple task of replying to posted messages on what you think, feel, and believe about a topic.
What I have learned through this report is that Newsgroup messages are filled with a variety of attitudes and behaviors. From the "aggressive drivers" and "road rage" topics, I found that viewers express their anger, hostility, humor, sympathy, and concerns to different posted messages. There are some people who flame visitor's comments, and there are some people who spam other messages. But the key point in participating in Newsgroups is that you should not take things personally. Since this communication style is done individually, where you do not see the other person talking, it makes it easier for people to sound macho, ignorant, and rude. Remember, the purpose of Newsgroups is to say what you want to say.
Because Newsgroups does not involve eye to eye communication, I did not encounter any prejudice remarks in any messages. I guess it is a bit difficult to know what color one is through typing on-line. Who knows, someone may try to act a different ethnicity, but we will never know for sure what ethnic background that person is.
One concept that I did recognize in a lot of the "aggressive drivers" messages was stereotypes. There were stereotypes about aggressive drivers, road ragers, slow drivers, male drivers, female drivers, old drivers, young drivers, etc...Newsgroups are full of stereotypes that are based on what the posters believe. Through experience, or from what family, friends, or peers teach us, stereotypes are made up assumptions about a certain group or item. From there, people will assume that if that person did that, then he/she is considered this.
Newsgroups takes on the process of socialization. Even though you do not communicate with the other visitors eye to eye, you are able to express your attitude about an issue. Through the socialization process, visitors are capable of reading how others feel, and perhaps encourage others to change their attitude about the topic. Socializing helps give ideas to others.
(b)
Some advice that the future generations can use to investigate this issue and carry its usefulness further are learn and understand the concept of Newsgroups. Try to get a feel of what others around the world feel about all kinds of topics. Perhaps someone out there has the same idea or belief that you have. If you get the chance, participate in Newsgroups and see what kind of responses you get. But remember, do not take things personally.





My Reactions to the Generational Curriculum | My Home Page | Report 1: Identifying Attitudes Through Newsgroups Messages | Report 2: Acquiring Cyberspace Citizenship | Newsgroups Report | Bookmarks File | Icons File | Our G7--409af97 Class Home Page | Dr. Leon James Home Page