Before her talk at Web Summit’s Society Summit
, we talked to Mary about online behaviour, and Patricia Arquette’s dramatisation of her work:
How hard is it to determine whether someone is a potentially dangerous character when considering their everyday social media use?
There is a great paper on this subject called Trolls just want to have fun
. If you like to use social media to make fun of, or troll others, then perhaps you should think again: this research argues that trolling is in fact a “manifestation of everyday sadism”.
How good a job has Patricia Arquette done at picking up your mannerisms? Do you see yourself in her character?
I try not to reflect too much on being portrayed in a primetime TV show by an oscar winning actress. It’s just a little surreal. I contribute to the dialogue, so yes I do see glimpses of myself in the character.
When friends or colleagues watch the show they often point to a particular look or mannerism and say: ‘Mary, that was just like you.’
You’ve said that your work studies “the impact of emerging technology on human behaviour”. Broadly speaking, has social media had a positive or negative effect on human behaviour?
Technology in itself is not good or bad. It simply mediates behaviour, therefore it is either used well or poorly by humans.
I am afraid that I would have to write an entire academic paper to answer this question. A more interesting and briefer point is as follows: real world bullying is a serious problem in terms of detection – a nasty insult in the playground, an unseen malicious punch.
Paradoxically, cyberbullying is nothing but digital evidence. Just how did we get to a point where it has become a bigger problem than traditional bullying?
Who do you think is the greatest living Irish person?
I was invited to a dinner in Washington with (Watergate journalist) Bob Woodward
a few days ago. It was an unbelievable experience to spend an evening with such a brilliant man – what an incredible investigative mind.
His wife Elsa who organised the dinner is part Irish, so just at the moment I would like to nominate Elsa.