Drugs and online/offline sociability

Wow it’s been months since I’ve posted. Never fear, I’ve been working away, launching projects and trying to finish off others. Looking forward to writing some dedicated blog posts soon.

In the meantime, an announcement that I’ll be presenting some work from my PhD at VSURF (the Victorian Substance Use Research Forum) next Friday, see below. I’m looking forward to it! 🙂

Date: Friday August 17, 4pm

Title: Drugs and online/offline sociability: Understanding anonymity in an era of media convergence

Presenter: Monica Barratt (NDRI, Curtin University)

Venue: Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, 54 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Abstract: Most research about illicit drugs and the internet treats the internet as a tool for consuming and sharing information, delivering interventions, and/or purchasing drugs. In contrast, this paper considers the internet as facilitating multiple ‘online places’ where social interaction occurs, relationships are made and maintained, identities are performed and meanings are negotiated. This paper draws on analyses from a qualitatively-driven mixed-method study of public internet forums where party drugs were discussed by Australians in 2007–08. It outlines the variety of ways that people who use party drugs managed the convergence of online and offline friendship networks and subsequent changes in their drug use practices. In a context of increased media convergence, online anonymity has become more difficult to realise, and new social-media interventions that rely on identified social networks cannot be as easily engaged by ‘hidden’ drug users. ‘Old’ pseudonymous media (e.g., internet forums) may still offer opportunities not afforded by new media forms in the current context of drug prohibition.

2 thoughts on “Drugs and online/offline sociability”

  1. Internet users need to be aware that information they provide online now (eg. about drug use) may not lead to any problems today, but because human values and laws change, the same information might cause them problems in the future – and most/much information on the internet becomes a permanent electronic record. Paranoia or caution?

  2. Hi Russell, thanks for the comment!

    I don’t think it is paranoia… people have good reason to be cautious. I have written a paper on the strategies people used to protect themselves and the risks they perceived of public online drug discussion, see http://monicabarratt.net/?p=308 – curious to see what you think of it.

    My concern is that as the internet gets more and more public and more and more permanent, identified, linked – we are less able to take advantage of the good side of online anonymity. Having said that, there is a backlash against the public web, the ‘clear net’, among those who use the dark net. Perhaps more and more people will start using anonymising services and things will look different in future?

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