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So.... are you on Facebook?

It was just within the past few years that my interest about on line communities caught my eye and had me hooked within a week. It was the day before my 19th birthday and my brother called me to tell me about this new “Facebook? thing that was apparently popular within the army. I of course registered for the program and have been going to the page at least once a day from that day on; its now two and a half years later. I do not know college without online communities.
Online communities such as Friendster and MySpace have been a huge success just within the past few years. As defined by dictionary.com a community is, “a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.? If you look at the structure of a community, online communities fit this description. However, I feel as though people need to have an emotional connection to each other to make it a real community. In every aspect, on paper, online communities fit the description and I will say that these different websites such as MySpace and Facebook are online communities but in my eyes I feel that I do not take these communities as serious as some may do. Virtual and realistic communities do act in the same way of communicating within each other but on a different level.
Looking at a simplistic level of communities, such as blogs, one could place this class itself into that community. Everyone in this class is replacing the chance to meet face to face and discuss these same issues, but instead we choose to over the internet. This blog is more secure than most blogs because it is through the University, however there are many blogs such as Soap Operas which Baym studies about 10 years ago. On a side note, I noticed that it was interesting in itself that one of her statements, “They videotape soaps and save then for evenings and weekends, if they watch them at all. (byod, 105)? In this day and age, the option would have been to TiVo the program or the option of watching online later which probably coincided with the daily blog for that particular show.
When signing up for these communities, I think that many people as stated in the article by Boyd and last weeks topics about gender people can “make up? their own characteristics and background depicting someone who they are really not. However for those who do become involved through these communities with their real identity can get hooked very easily. Personally, I don’t think that I could go a day without hearing the word “Facebook?; in relation to who updated their profile, to looking up people who we just meet to find out more about them, or to look at the newly posted pictures. I am guilty of hanging out with my friends and doing homework, but we would all look up and realize that we are all “Facebooking?.
Boyd talked a great deal about “friendng? people and reasons why they do. I find that it is a common reoccurrence that people will friend each other because they have seen then in a class or they have common friends. Many times as well, people friend each other if they haven’t talked in years, probably with no intention of ever talking to them but being able to say that they are “friends?. According to Bob, “When I see somebody with a large number of supposed friends, I suspect that they’re using the term ‘friend’ to mean ‘acquaintance,’ or that their motives in getting Friendster-recorded friends are not really about the relationships for the their own sake? (boyd).
Many people as well have to be aware of what they put on their profile and who they are friends with. As Boyd states, as people navigate profiles they build an image of who people are through their Friends.(boyd) Because many people are not in the same place in their career as me (looking for internships) I have chosen to make my profile private, which is an option for most communities, because I have known people who have not been hired because of their Facebook profile.
Online communities can provide a great deal of communication and bonding within the specific site itself, however the communities that I am aware of and part of are known to be a more social community that builds of the reality of our day to day lives.

Comments

You mentioned that you visit Facebook every day and the same holds true for most of your friends. I think all of these online communities are similar to social organizations from 30 years ago. There were communities/groups such as Knights of Columbus, Elks, Masons and the American Legion just to name a few. I think society has changed to keep pace with the way technology has changed.

You referenced it yourself with the comment about VCR and Tivo. 10 years from now we will be faced with an entirely different technology.

I have also heard about people's online presence affecting their ability to get a job. I would think that would be somewhat illegal by the hiring company. I also don't know how an applicant could prove that their online activities affected their ability to get hired.

Good post

Mike

I'm also a daily user of Facebook, and I think that it's a great way to keep in touch my friends. I also like the fact that I can make it "private" so that outside parties couldn't check it out. And I agree with you that it would be very easy for people to pretend to be someone that they're not on things like the Soap Opera network. I think that online communication in general provides people the option of wearing a mask like at a masquerade (sp?) ball or something. People's personalities still shine through at one point or another, but they can always resume to wearing a mask when they want to distance their real selves from their projected selves.