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Today there is much controversy surrounding computers, the Internet, instant messaging, and social networking sites. Despite the vast possibilities that the Internet provides in terms of global integration, comprehensive critiques have been made on society’s changing habits in terms of communicating and socializing with others. Basically, it would appear that this is a world in which social media work against the positive development of social skills. When people wish to talk to someone they send instant messages, Facebook inboxes, or tweets instead of making a phone call or sustaining a personal conversation. As well, privacy is another major issue that comes into question when talking about the Internet. Today it is possible for any person to know a lot of information on a person’s life (and even a person’s personality, tastes, habits, etc.) by simply logging into a social networking site and hitting a few clicks on the computer’s mouse. It seems that today the world has regressed in terms of communication and social interactions; it seems that communities are fundamentally degenerating. There are, however, communities that challenge such assertions, including Boston’s North End. In communities like these, multiculturalism is promoted via the imposition of unintentional socialization, which results in the elimination of individual shyness.

The area that was chosen for the fieldwork was Boston’s North End; it is the city’s oldest residential community. The North End comprises a small community in which multiculturalism has been harnessed throughout the last four centuries. Ever since Boston was first established in the 1630s there have been people living in the area. In tackling the issue of multiculturalism, Hua Hsu wrote an article titled “The end of white America?” In this article he contends that the United States is no longer a country dominated by white people; it is a country in which a more diversified, multicultural society is gradually consolidating. Specifically, Hsu states that “the demographic shifts of the next 40 years are likely to reduce the power of racial hierarchies over everyone’s lives, producing a culture that’s more likely than any before to treat its inhabitants as individuals, rather than members of a caste or identity group”. This statement clearly indicates that the tendency is for the growth of the country’s ethnical minorities. Today Latino and African American minorities grow at higher rates than does the white American majority. This undoubtedly has contributed in making the American social establishment more integrated and equal. Upon observing the way in which the North End has evolved over the years it becomes clear that this is in fact happening. The area is quite small, but despite of this it is filled with many restaurants, cafes, and other eating established (in excess of 100). The population is relatively diverse; for the most part residents are Italian-Americans and because of this North End are usually called Boston’s “Little Italy”. Despite there being a relative majority of Italian Americans, there are other ethnic minorities in the area, including African Americans and Latinos, as well as other European ethnicities. Over the years, these different ethnicities have managed to get along and learn from each other’s cultures. Undoubtedly, Boston’s North End challenges the notion that traditional communities are disappearing and that multiculturalism is gradually disappearing as social interaction is hindered through the proliferation of the Internet usage.

In Boston’s North End there is a recognized Italian pizzeria: Ernesto’s Pizzeria; it is an establishment that evidences how unintentional socialization unravels within the community. In speaking about unintentional socialization it is helpful to fall back on Malcolm Gladwell’s article “Designs for working”, which focuses on how spaces can (and should) be rearranged in order to promote direct interaction that contributes to the effective social development of employees (and individuals in general). The article summarily states that “when sidewalks are used for socializing and play and commerce, the users of that street are transformed by the resulting stimulation: they form relationships and casual contacts they would never have otherwise”. In other words, the author makes the claim that when socialization is directed to places where there is a high affluence of people, they will forcibly engage in unintentional socialization. This is precisely what Ernesto’s pizzeria allows for, forced, or unintentional interaction/socialization between everyone who enters the pizzeria looking for a delicious meal. The pizzeria is somewhat small, but since it first opened its doors to the public in 1984 in 69 Salem Street it has distinguished itself as being a gourmet pizza establishment. Ernesto’s is a place where anyone can go for a casual meal in a cozy, private environment filled with history. As well, given that it is a pizzeria with high tourist affluence, there is always the possibility of ordering pizza to go without having to wait for long, as there is always fresh pizza available for immediate purchase and consumption. Finally, I think that it is important to point out that the pizzeria is open from 11 am to 9 pm (Sundays through Thursdays); on Fridays and Saturdays it is open from 11 am to 11 pm. Clearly, the high affluence identified in the pizzeria hints the presence of unintentional socialization, which is also characteristic of traditional communities. Through unintentional socialization people develop positive social/communication skills that ultimately contribute to strengthening and developing the community.

Shyness is another major factor to be taken into account when discussing the degeneration (or lack thereof) of traditional communities. Shyness hampers people’s ability to effectively interact with others and build a strong community. The Internet promotes shyness as it eliminates the physical interaction that individuals need to overcome it. On this point, John Perry Barlow’s article “Is there a there in cyberspace?” proposes, when discussing today’s sociocultural context, that “not only are we trying to build community here among people who have never experienced any in my sense of the term, we are trying to build community among people who, in their lives, have rarely used the word we in a heartfelt way”. People rarely consider themselves part of a larger group; they seldom feel members of a community. This owes largely to the fact that the Internet eliminates the physical spaces where individuals can meet, talk, and relate with one another. This, however, is not the case in Boston’s North End (or in Ernesto’s Pizzeria). First of all, the fact that North End is filled with more than one hundred food establishments indicates that there is a clear desire to satisfy the people’s infinitely many demands (as they apply to food tastes, of course). A total of 24 different varieties of pizza were found in the pizzeria; this clearly indicates that people’s tastes regarding pizza are fundamentally diverse and that Ernesto’s is interested in servicing all of them (and capitalizing from all of them as well). People cannot simply go online and make an order for Ernesto’s pizza. The only way that they can get the pizza is by leaving their houses/offices and goes into the North End and into the pizzeria. Such a dynamic promotes interaction between all kinds of people; multiculturalism and unintentional socialization ultimately allow for the elimination of shyness.

Today it would seem that the Internet and social media sites have become an addiction, especially among today’s youths. Past generations engaged in conversations (personally or through landlines). Not long ago mobile phones allowed people to communicate more effectively; people could call each other and have a conversation while jogging, driving, having coffee at the office, etc. Today, however, direct interaction and direct conversation seems to have become a thing of the past. This situation has escalated from a mere compulsory habit into an addiction. Today people cannot stay away from their mobile phones, computers, and tablets. There is an inexplicable need to always check for news feeds on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other such social networking sites. However, there are still communities in which multiculturalism and unintentional socialization are promoted, and through such promotion, shyness is effectively countered and eliminated. Boston’s North End is a community in which it becomes clear that the Internet has not disintegrated the position (or condition) of the traditional, physical community that all of the area’s residents feel a part of.

Past generations engaged in conversations (personally or through landlines). Not long ago mobile phones allowed people to communicate more effectively; people could call each other and have a conversation while jogging, driving, having coffee at the office, etc. Today, however, direct interaction and direct conversation seems to have become a thing of the past. This situation has escalated from a mere compulsory habit into an addiction. Today people cannot stay away from their mobile phones, computers, and tablets. There is an inexplicable need to always check for news feeds on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other such social networking sites. Today’s society is hindering its social development as a consequence of social media and the Internet; it is imperative to find effective and immediate treatment for this growing addiction. The upside, however, is that social media and the Interne have contributed in overcoming cultural differences (for billions of people around the world).

This is a world in which social media work against the positive development of social skills. When people wish to talk to someone they send instant messages, Facebook inboxes, or tweets instead of making a phone call or sustaining a personal conversation. As well, the reading touches upon another major issue: privacy. Today it is possible for any person to know a lot of information on a person’s life (and even a person’s personality, tastes, habits, etc.) by simply logging into a social networking site and hitting a few clicks on the computer’s mouse.

Code: Sample20

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