Facebook in a Socio-Cultural Aspect

On: October 11, 2008
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About Maria Perevalova
I graduated from Moscow State Linguistic University, interpreter department with specialization in Theory and History of Culture. I have working experience in informational and advertising agencies. Present time I am a student at University of Amsterdam, New Media MA programme

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http://media-maria.blogspot.com    

According to the statistics the age majority of  Facebook users is 19  albeit there are thousands of users aged more than 60. Every age audience seeks distinct gains and responses and have attitude associated with their age system of values. Nevertheless the unifying factor of social network is that it is social and it socializes everybody, make part of a public, make be in a group or network and have “friends”.

Generally speaking in terms of  affecting the culture and society, social network sites(SNS)  have a great resonance and constitute a historic artifact characterizing the years of  boom of SNS.

The spread of social networks had a viral character, when thousands and thousands of people in short period of time tabbed themselves in online environment, became a part of cyber society. The feelings of excitement, than infatuation  and than addiction accompanied the process of cyber socialization. As SNS brought enhanced possibilities in social activities, that real life society can’t offer. Indeed, the quantity of “friends” some people have on social network sites may seem unrealistic for real life. The notion “friends” is distorted in cyber society and does not really fits with what we understand as friends in real life.

“The term “Friends” can be misleading, because the connection does not necessarily mean friendship in the everyday vernacular sense,” ”- Danah Boyd and Nicole B. Ellison, “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship“.

Nevertheless complaints about misleading of the term “friends” are not heard, on the contrary everybody is happy to have hundred of ‘Friends” as online world let you have endless quantity of friends and that is the magic and the trick of it.

In the article “Why Youth Heart Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life” Danah focuses on and research the group of social network she calls “teenagers”, 14-18 years old high school people, young Americans. Examining the practices of teenagers on social networks, she focuses primarily on MySpace.

If you are not on my space – you don’t exist” – she cites a teenager.

Of course the world of a teenager is about extremes, but it shows things sharper. The role of presence in online society, positioning oneself and being active in there is bigger than one of acting in real society or deeply connected and effect the real social life.

Can a grown person address his attitude to a social network as a teenager did? Is it true about all the rest but teenagers – if you are not on my space – you don’t exist?
The ubiquity of social networks,  proves the existence of a second society, online society, along with the one in real world. People tend to flock, gather in groups, networks, society, to be in herd; having more “friends” adds confidence. In different times people flocked around different ideas, movements. The technology made it possible to realize the greatest imaginary society that meets a number of human inner needs.

The population of Facebook reaches a large scope of ages, and the emotional teenager’s must be on it doesn’t  not always work with grown p people. The purpose of joining an SNS, Facebook in particular can be friend-driven and interest-driven.  Once an individum created a profile he becomes a part of a group of friends, classmates, colleagues or people of the same interests. Not everybody realizes when registering at Facebook, that socializing goes beyond the relations between your profile and your friend’s ones, the user reveals himself to the whole world of internet becoming searchable in internet search engines. The availability of information, the great benefit of internet became relevant to the information about people, internet space fits the whole universe, and indeed nothing on earth is not in there.
The audience of Facebook is diverse in age and interests, it includes teenagers and scientists, celebrities and politicians. Though the latters are the people who aims at exposing themselves before the public. Referring to danah :“By and large, when politicians and activists talk about using MySpace and Facebook, they aren’t talking about using it the way most people do; they are talking about leveraging it as a spamming device”.

In her essay “Digital Handshakes in Networked Publics: Why Politicians Must Interact, Not Broadcast” she reveals that characteristics of internet social networks akin to the ones of social groups in real life. People online needs to be approached personally, not through an aide, they need to swing round the circle and handshake, digitally.

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