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Facebook: What is the definition of a friend?

I am ashamed to say my use of online communities is really limited to facebook. Although, I once created a MySpace account JUST to look at some profiles of people I met in California one summer. (Isn’t that sad?) I also use discussion boards on some online health websites, but that is the extent of my activity. After reading both articles and then watching the video, I actually think I relate most to the video. It sometimes upsets me that young people are so connected online. It makes me think we are losing our face-to-face interaction and social skills. “The valuing of individuality, just like the prizing of humor and insight, therefore relates to the need of soap opera fans to share and compare personalized interpretations of the show? (Baym 116). This quote best sums-up what I have found to be true as well about any online community. Everyone wants a way to express themselves and be responded too. It is in the voicing of opinion about a topic, being responded to, and then getting to add more that drives online communities, blogging, and posting. It is almost human nature to want to be heard and it is made easier when the topic is of interest and people who share your interest are listening and reacting to you. Thus, I do believe that Baym’s observations observed more than a year ago still exist and are evolving as we speak into more complex communications and meeting people’s needs.
As well, Boyd really makes an extension to some of Baym’s arguments. Specifically, I think the sentence “People define their community egocentrically? (Boyd: Egocentric Networks Replace Groups). Like I stated above, individuals want to be heard and recognized, and feel like they are part of a similar grouping. But, Baym says now we choose friends first and then find similar topics to communicate on. It is revolutionary the way we continually redefine the context of many concepts and forms of communication. From my experience with facebook, I have learned that my “friends? are more like people I sort of know. It was a struggle for me to accept people I just met once as “friends? at first. My true friends in real life are much more than facebook friends (obviously). And, like the argument in the comedy central bit, it takes work, commitment and responsibility to be a true friend. There is not much commitment or reliability with a friend you have in an online community. I had a hard time relating to the drama that ensures with “top friends? on myspace. I think it is quite juvenile to actually choose a certain group of people as your top friends.
Overall, I think the two articles, and the video do an accurate job of depicting the evolutionary and revolutionary nature of online communities. There will be a constant redefining of original contexts as time goes on, and the virtual world will look less and less like the real world.

Comments

Just like you, my online communities is pretty much limited to facebook as well. I agree with you that some people are losing that face to face interaction that's important. I also agree with you on the point that your true friends in real life face to face contact are a lot different than your online friends, unless some of your online friends are the once you see on a day to day bases and they contribute to your well being with commitment responsibility and caring.

Good post, good points

I am also limited to Facebook when it comes to networking sites.

Your comment on "being heard" made me think, so thank you. I just wonder if the number of outdoor protests and demonstrations has gone down. Of course this is impossible to find data on because there are different things to protest all the time. But I thought that while there are probably less outdoor protests today, it seems that the ones that occur are more organized, meaning everyone is informed of exactly what is going to happen. Because you can be as specific as you want on the internet when people ask questions, we may also have more "centric" groups. I say that because there are probably more people that will join a protest for a NO WAR IN IRAQ mailing sent out by a Mother's March group than a NO WAR IN IRAQ sent via email, talking about where moms can meet, what moms can do before and after the protest, and how moms can get involved. This is because moms are more comfortable protesting with other moms, as they feel they are going through the same thing at the same time in their lives.
Just a thought, of course none of it is factual.
Thanks for helping me think!

I too only have a Facebook account but have had the opportunity to look at MySpace. I think that we expanding and creating new relationships with people with common interests. However, these actions may not always be a good thing. It's stupid but there are manipulative people out there and I do not know if Social Networks are that safe. Nice job.