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Old 06-26-2006, 12:05 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Internet to Blame for Lack of Close Friends

http://slashdot.org/articles/06/06/24/1721249.shtml

Quote:
"Duke and University of Arizona researchers are citing the Internet as one of the main contributing factors to a shrinking of social networks among Americans. People say they have fewer people they can talk to about important stuff, even if they are talking to lots more people from all over the place about unimportant stuff online."
Interesting point! I don't agree though. The article talks about shrinking social networks, but I feel that the internet has enlarged mine. Having the internet has allowed me to make new friends that I wouldn't hae been able to otherwise.

My issues have always been that I didn't put out the effort to really keep in touch with friends unless I found them really interesting.

Now I have online friends who I genuinely am interested in, who I look up to or learn from! It's great as far as I can see. Sure I wish they lived closer and we could talk in person, but I am so grateful I got to know them at all!

Maybe what I'm saying is that I am a sucky real life friend, so online people give me another chance to suck! haaha

How does everyone else feel?
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Old 06-26-2006, 12:28 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think that people call too many people 'friends.' A lot of 'friends' are really acquaintances. I am someone who treasures and tries my best to keep my friends, since they are few and far between. The Talmud (a jewish religious set of books), states that a man with 3 true friends is a rich man. And I fully feel that way. So while I have many acquaintances that can become friends, that you may know, I do not consider most ‘friends’. I have friends who I have met from online that have blossomed in to a true friendship, but I differentiate between most people as friends and acquaintances (I feel people call others best friends and use other terms for the same thing). Either way I always look for new friends, new acquaintances, and new relationships.

So to me the answer is that it creates more superficial friendships (or acquaintances is the term I use). Not that there is anything wrong with it. The nice thing on the internet, is that these friendships tend to have more openness, more honesty more bluntness, since you do not really know the person in everyday life. And these relationships brings a different aspect or type of ‘friend’/ ‘acquaintances’ which can be very good, and sometimes harsh.
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Old 06-26-2006, 12:39 AM   #3 (permalink)
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So it is a bad thing that one my "Closest" friends is online, with whom I've known for almost 2.5 years?
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Old 06-26-2006, 02:24 AM   #4 (permalink)
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As is one of mine, sorry my comment is my thought in a general sense. But there are exceptions and obvious great friendships / bonds that can be created. But I still feel most relationships online tend to be more 'acquaintance' then 'friend'
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Old 06-26-2006, 02:29 AM   #5 (permalink)
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For me it's the opposite.

If I didn't have the internet, I'd have no social communication outside of my family. I have no friends in real life because I've never understood how that works.

It hasn't limited me at all, it's given me the ability to communicate with others on a casual basis, a skill that is absent for me away from my computer.

Gilda
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Old 06-26-2006, 04:26 AM   #6 (permalink)
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For me, the internet may have somewhat interfered in my social life. My internet activity occurs only at the workplace. Before my company gave the workers internet access, I would eat my lunch in the cafeteria with co-workers, some of which I developed friendships with, and we would maintain those friendships outside of work as well. After the internet became available, I started spending more and more time at my desk online. Now, I spent every lunchtime browsing by myself, and I have no co-workers that I can call my friends. Sometimes this bothers me, but I guess I'm just addicted to the internet, so I don't act on it.
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Old 06-26-2006, 06:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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The internet and any type of long distance communication has allowed me to deepen friendships across oceans and continents.

What's to blame for lack of close friends more than anything is people lack of tolerance to bad or poor behavior. While one doesn't need to surround themselves with assholes forever, I believe we tend to dismiss friendships easily forgetting that long term friendships are difficult to cultivate.

Also, people do not like to reveal themselves to their friends, how does one deepen a friendship if all you ever talk about is the weather, and same old same old when asked how have you been after 2 years?
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Old 06-26-2006, 07:41 AM   #8 (permalink)
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how many internet friends would you give 4k to (in total it was 6500)? how many internet friends will you travel 8 hours on a storming night in a car for? most friendships that are solely internet based will never make it to that level, if ever, compared to the normal type of friendship. To me a friend is not someone I just jibber jabber with, or hang with it is a level above that.

I gave those examples since those are a few things that I have done.
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Old 06-26-2006, 08:14 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I can't blame the internet for lack of friends because my wife and I had no friends LONG before we found the internet. The only person I've ever met in real life after meeting them first on the internet was an author who talked WAYYYYYY too much about himself and was 30 times more obnoxious than I'd imagined. He seemed much more clever and humble on the internet. That's one reason I don't attend TFP get-togethers. The other reason is that I'm a typical lazy southerner, and unless the party is held across town at the War Eagle Supper Club then I won't be there.
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Old 06-26-2006, 12:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The Internet has actually given my close friends and I the means to stay in touch, especially now that a good portion of our crowd have finished college and/or moved away.

I have my close real life friends, my acquaintances, and my Internet friends. There are Internet friends I feel close to, mostly because we've shared a lot about ourselves in conversation. And I know some day I will meet all of them. Someday.

I think television and other forms of entertainment are more to blame than the Internet; they prevent us from forming local connections and joining the community at large.
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Old 06-26-2006, 06:12 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynthetiq
The internet and any type of long distance communication has allowed me to deepen friendships across oceans and continents.

What's to blame for lack of close friends more than anything is people lack of tolerance to bad or poor behavior. While one doesn't need to surround themselves with assholes forever, I believe we tend to dismiss friendships easily forgetting that long term friendships are difficult to cultivate.

Also, people do not like to reveal themselves to their friends, how does one deepen a friendship if all you ever talk about is the weather, and same old same old when asked how have you been after 2 years?
I hadn't considered what you say in your second paragraph. I don't think I'd even consider attempting to make friends with someone who was behaving poorly. What would be the point? I want to have friends so that I'll have people I feel comfortable interacting with on a casual basis.

Your third paragraph is a catch 22. I've been puzzling this for quite some time and do not see any way around it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xazy
how many internet friends would you give 4k to (in total it was 6500)? how many internet friends will you travel 8 hours on a storming night in a car for? most friendships that are solely internet based will never make it to that level, if ever, compared to the normal type of friendship. To me a friend is not someone I just jibber jabber with, or hang with it is a level above that.

I gave those examples since those are a few things that I have done.
None and one. That one is more than I have away from the internet.

Gilda

Last edited by Gilda; 06-26-2006 at 07:44 PM..
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Old 06-26-2006, 07:40 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilda
I hadn't considered what you say in your second paragraph. I don't think I'd even consider attempting to make friends with someone who was behaving poorly. What would be the point? I want to have friends so that I'll have people I feel comfortable interacting with on a casual basis.

Your third paragraph is a catch 22. I've been puzzling this for quite some time and do see any way around it.

Gilda
Sometimes friends go through difficult periods and exhibit bad or poor behavior, they may be cheating on their SO, have gambling/addiction problems, depression, other maladies. Sometimes it's hard to deal with, I just about written off a couple of friends for one or two reasons in the past, which was completely wrong of me.

One of them I stopped talking to because he was in the midst of poor decision making abilities when it came to finances. He kept digging himself deeper and deeper into a hole. I stuck by him but just didn't talk to him as much. He has been a very good friend to me and my wife offering support where and when he can. He's since been straightening out his financial crisis and is back on a finanacially responsible train.

Another was just always forsaking me. I'd try to make plans, but he'd always say he can't because he's busy with work, but then tell tales and stories about hanging out with other friends. It didn't make me feel very valued as a friend. It tooke some time for me to understand it is just what is happening now, but I was ready to toss the 9 year friendship out the window. Recently we've both had some things going on in our lives, and we've been instrumental in supporting each other.

The last part, oh the conumdrum that one is. I have a couple of friends that do not open up more than same ol' same ol' for every phone conversation no matter what the time passed is. But the deepest friendships are the ones that take the time to think and communicate the nuances of day to day life, mundane or not.
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Old 06-26-2006, 08:24 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Ok, I understand now. You were referring to not discarding existing friendships because of bad behavior. That does make sense.

I was misinterpreting it as meaning not entering into a friendship with someone who is behaving badly.

I also find that interesting about talking about the "nuances of day to day life". I wouldn't think to talk about that because well, why would anybody want to hear about the details of my everyday life? I'm about as boring as they come. Seems like a good recipe for driving people away.

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Old 06-27-2006, 07:38 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warrrreagl
The only person I've ever met in real life after meeting them first on the internet was an author who talked WAYYYYYY too much about himself and was 30 times more obnoxious than I'd imagined. He seemed much more clever and humble on the internet. That's one reason I don't attend TFP get-togethers.
It works the opposite way also. I thought the meetup in Chicago had a high probability of being lame, and it wasn't at all. I was very worried I was going to hate Shesus - I thought our real life personalities could clash horrifically. As it turns out, she is even more awesome in person.
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Old 06-27-2006, 07:44 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilda
Ok, I understand now. You were referring to not discarding existing friendships because of bad behavior. That does make sense.

I was misinterpreting it as meaning not entering into a friendship with someone who is behaving badly.

I also find that interesting about talking about the "nuances of day to day life". I wouldn't think to talk about that because well, why would anybody want to hear about the details of my everyday life? I'm about as boring as they come. Seems like a good recipe for driving people away.

Gilda
but you do detail the nuances of your daily life, in your journal and in some of your comments about what happens at the school and at the hospital. Some people find it mundane and mind numbing and don't really want to hear it, but your real friends want to hear about what's going on in your life, no matter how boring it seems to you. At some point in time something of interest happens to you during the day. You recount some of it to your close circle, yet they stay and listen and aren't driven away.
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Old 06-27-2006, 08:08 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I have plenty of down time at work, so that is when I spend my time on the internet. At home I am usually unplugged and do this on purpose, although I do get on real quick to check things and read email. I feel spending time with “real” people is important

Onesnowyowl brought up a very good point in television and other forms of entertainment are to blame too. My nephew doesn’t leave his room much cause he is so into video games.

With “internet buddies” we only read what each other pounds away on the keyboard but there is so much more in communication such as body language and the inflection in one’s voice. We just don’t get that staring at a pooter screan.
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Old 06-29-2006, 05:20 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynthetiq
but you do detail the nuances of your daily life, in your journal and in some of your comments about what happens at the school and at the hospital. Some people find it mundane and mind numbing and don't really want to hear it, but your real friends want to hear about what's going on in your life, no matter how boring it seems to you. At some point in time something of interest happens to you during the day. You recount some of it to your close circle, yet they stay and listen and aren't driven away.
I do put that in my journal, true, but that's writing. Writing comes easily to me, and I express myself much better and much more clearly because of all the advantages that come with being able to compose and edit thoughts, and because writing is, for me, a different way of thinking and processing than thinking or talking.

Even then, a little under half the stuff I compose for my journal gets deleted because I'm not satisfied with it, and well over half of my posts get deleted at the preview stage for the same reason. I have to be a lot more careful in face to face interactions because there is no opportunity to compose, edit, preview, and delete the potentially dull or offensive stuff.

That's part of the reason I value internet communication over face to face, t least for everyone but the two women I live with. It allows you to minimize the extraneous stuff a lot easier.

Yes I do share the details of my everyday life with those with whom I am emotionally intimate, but that isn't the same thing as doing that with a casual aquaintance. I'm going to tell Grace and Sissy about, say, missing the offramp today on the highway and why it happened, but nobody else would want to hear the details of something like that.

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Old 06-29-2006, 06:33 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I think that the internet has allowed me to keep in touch with old friends that I would have otherwise lost a long time ago. For instance, I recently came back into contact with a girl that I thought had passed away from brain cancer seven years ago. Ah, the power of myspace.

Also, I have made friends with a girl in my area that I instantly clicked with. I met her online, and now we're relatively close.

Last edited by la petite moi; 06-29-2006 at 06:36 PM..
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:39 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Boohoo, I have 50,000 friends on TFP, I'd like to see people from before the interweb with that many friends.
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Old 06-29-2006, 07:09 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I'm of two minds about the whole "internet friends" thing. I think of the internet of a means of meeting people in the flesh. I can connect with people on line with the intent of meeting them in person at some point. To me there is nothing that compares to face to face interaction. You can see how the person reacts to you and what you are saying and body language, to me is such a key factor in communication.
Also, I think you have to really work at "realtime" friendships. If you feel like crap but someone needs you you have to go the extra distance to be there for them. Online you just log off if you don't feel like talking.

And finally, when was the last time an online friend took you to the emergency???? Or held your hand at your father's funeral????
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Old 06-29-2006, 07:22 PM   #21 (permalink)
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hagatha, you can meet friends online that you otherwise would have never gotten to know in your area.

I would have never gotten to know my fiance if it weren't for the internet, despite the fact that we went to the same high school.
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Old 06-30-2006, 02:00 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toaster126
It works the opposite way also. I thought the meetup in Chicago had a high probability of being lame, and it wasn't at all. I was very worried I was going to hate Shesus - I thought our real life personalities could clash horrifically. As it turns out, she is even more awesome in person.
Oh, I'm not worried that I'll find OTHER people to be obnoxious...
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Old 06-30-2006, 09:51 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warrrreagl
Oh, I'm not worried that I'll find OTHER people to be obnoxious...
[nods head]

That's usually why I tend to avoid face to face socializing.

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Old 07-02-2006, 09:44 PM   #24 (permalink)
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me and the love of my life reunited through the internet and maintained our friendship (he lived 300 miles away) throughout the first half of it with the help of internet. if it weren't for the internet, who knows where we'd be..
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Old 07-04-2006, 04:53 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by la petite moi
hagatha, you can meet friends online that you otherwise would have never gotten to know in your area.

I would have never gotten to know my fiance if it weren't for the internet, despite the fact that we went to the same high school.
I think you misunderstood me....I mean people who never meet or have any intention of meeting but still consider one another "friends".
That is my interpretation of "internet pals".
As a means to an end, ie actual face to face contact, I have no problem with that. Its just that I know people who have wonderfully charming, engaging online personalities but in person are socially inept. The internet has allowed them to construct a fake personna that has nothing to do with who they really are. So how "real" is an online friendship with that person?
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Old 07-04-2006, 04:59 AM   #26 (permalink)
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How 'real' is a friendship with someone you know face to face, spent a large proportion of your childhood with yet haven't spoken to them in a year? I still consider friends from school as such, though I've lost touch with most of them.
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Old 07-12-2006, 12:01 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilda
...I express myself much better and much more clearly because of all the advantages that come with being able to compose and edit thoughts, and because writing is, for me, a different way of thinking and processing than thinking or talking.
...
I have to be a lot more careful in face to face interactions because there is no opportunity to compose, edit, preview, and delete the potentially dull or offensive stuff.

That's part of the reason I value internet communication over face to face...

Gilda
My thoughts exactly.



I don't have any friends that I haven't met in person (except for the community here at TFP), but I don't have too many in person either.
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Old 07-12-2006, 01:03 PM   #28 (permalink)
 
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There are days when I would agree with the idea that the internet takes away from having close friends. Some of you saw my thread a while back on how I revile facebook, myspace, etc. (I still do, btw... friggin' cults!)

However, I've become more open to the fact that the internet is capable of opening up one's social group, rather than closing it. I have certainly met a few people here with whom I'd like to pursue a friendship in real life, if we lived closer together. Meeting those few people in person has been great.

But not all online friendships translate well into actual social interaction, and that's what I can't figure out. Sometimes there is something awkward/missing about going from the internet to real life... it feels somewhat unnatural to me. It's not negative, but I'm definitely not used to it yet, and I want to understand why it feels so awkward to me at times. Others seem to slide effortlessly from online to real life and back again... I am not one of those.

And so to me, internet social interaction is really not in the same category as real life social interaction. There is something qualitatively different about it... perhaps because we say things online that we might never say in real life, when meeting someone for the first time (or even knowing someone after 20 years). This quality makes me think that while the internet may not take away close friends, it is a different social beast entirely... I can't explain it.

I don't think one can replace real life social interaction with internet interaction, though one certainly go the other direction. I suppose one thing I do not like about internet interaction (or maybe I DO like it, unfortunately) is that one can always turn it "off." Internet friendships are almost always those of convenience; one can always escape from them, or escape TO them, whenever one desires. There is often no real commitment or discomfort required in online interaction; there is always, always the "off" switch. (And yes, I know this is not always the case, but I think most of you would agree that it's *typically* the case?)

There is no such freedom in real life; and thus in real life we are forced to deal with real people and either grow or regress in our social interaction. Which is the beauty (and misery) of real life. Hell is other people, right? But only in real life.

Certainly, many people do grow through online interactions... but I'd say that takes a great deal of desire to change oneself, and the internet is just a helpful tool for doing so, in that case. But

I think there can be something inherently harmful in creating an entire social life online, to the point of perhaps total isolation in real life... never initiating real life friendships because it's just "so much easier online." It's almost like internet socializing is "porn," where people go to feel better instead of facing the challenges of doing the same in real life. Of course, I am a fan of porn... but all things in moderation here. And I know that for myself, there are many days when I am totally addicted to the internet... and it's just as harmful to my life as being addicted to porn, or anything else.

I'm rambling here, so I don't know if this makes sense to anyone. Just trying to package my thoughts somehow about this.
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Old 07-13-2006, 07:31 AM   #29 (permalink)
 
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i am very aware that roachboy is a persona that changes as the sentences i ---the other guy, the one who is at best partially here----write change.
if folk read what roachboy says, the sentences hedge round a kind of empty space that shape projections about who he is.
based on those projections, they may choose to think him a nice enough fellow or not.
in a way, this is not so different from doing music performances: people see me on stage and impute elements of the person they imagine to me. i often have no idea how this works or what the basis for it is--all i know is that doing experimental/improvisational music live generates the impression that i am quite a different person than i am most of the time--more a zen monk, more quiet and distant.


i kind of like the distance. i do a journal here that is mostly about the world as roachboy sees it, which is different from how i see it. it is also not different from how i see it. roachboy is and is not me.

based on this, i dont really see net communities as viable social spaces--i dont see them as other than viable either---they are spaces where versions of people can interact---they are a kind of like a curious game in which you can lead with those aspects of yourself that you like best and that you translate most easily into sentences. you may feel restricted in 3-d life in comparison for any number of reasons. particularly if you are self-conscious about your body for whatever reason, or if you are simply shy.

caveat: i have only met one person in real life from tfp and that right after a performance (i was in a daze)---artelevision was not at all as i had imagined him to be, based on a fleeting and highly mediated interaction. but that was fine--i was curious to get to know this other person and about how the one i kind of know through sentences relates to the one that deploys in 3-d.

best thing i can say about tfp is that it activates similar curiousity more often than not.
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