Let’s Get Personal

Before jumping into my thoughts about interpersonal relationships and social media I’d like to share an interesting experience when searching for recent articles discussing the matter.  When researching a starting point for my post, I went to Google (does anyone notice how we go to Google for literally everything) and searched ‘interpersonal relationships and social networking.’  Yes, I know, could I have been any more creative in finding a starting point for blog 2?  I couldn’t think of any recent experiences or articles I’ve read so I just had to find one.

I found various results, but I noticed most of them had the words “Facebook,” “Privacy,” or “Influence” either in the headline or search result.  This in itself said enough.  Most interpersonal relationships on the web begin on social networking sites like Facebook, because we are influenced by other users, which eventually cause us to question our privacy.  Thus, we alter our online identity to show what we feel is acceptable for others to see; keeping in mind that our potential love interests (if they exist) could be “lurking” on our pages.  After I realized this I was determined to find an article that discussed the effects on identity from interpersonal relationships and social networking.  I actually found two that were quite difficult to choose between.  One discussed Nancy Baym’s perspective, which of course I found useful since we are reading the book.  The other article gave me an interesting take on the idea of being “sexy” on social networking sites.  Although useful, the prior wasn’t as interesting as the latter, but I do feel that it can supplement our readings, so it can be found here.

The article, “Are you too sexy for Facebook? Social media and relationships” provides statistics of online interactions that are starting to “spill-over” into reality.  These statistics are broken down into categories that I find quite interesting, including the socio-political divide.  According to the article, “34 percent of respondents living in Blue States (Democrats) describe themselves as “sexually adventurous,” compared with only around a quarter (26 percent) of Red State-ers (Republicans).”  What I find extremely interesting about these statistics is that, the division of people responding to these surveys, whether Democrats vs. Republicans or Facebook-ers vs. Tweeters, are a part of a specific community.  Various communities have been created on social networking sites, but what makes some users closer than others?

I think it’s safe to say their likes, dislikes, and affiliations group them into particular categories.  Donath and boyd discuss this further by explaining, “seeing someone within the context of their connections provides the viewer with information about them. Social status, political beliefs, musical taste, etc, may be inferred from the company one keeps” (72) Donath and boyd.  From personal experience I can agree with this completely.  Whenever I get a friend request from a stranger on Facebook, I instantly create this “stranger checklist” that could either categorize a user as a potential friend or a lurker.  The funny thing about it is 9 out of 10 times I have no intention of ever speaking to this person, but 5 out of ten times they intend to speak to me.  Yet, I go down my list (which suddenly appears out of thin air by the way) and see how many mutual friends we have, what their pictures look like, their education and work experience if provided.  Donath and boyd’s article has so much detail regarding interpersonal relationships so the story I chose seems to be just a quick display of statistics.  However, I do feel that it is presented effectively because the statistics give us another perspective on interpersonal relationships.  Although it may not be a lengthy discourse of social networking platforms, I think the information provided is sufficient for our class and the ideas discussed.

In regards to the presentation of stories in Life 2.0, I don’t think that the article I chose can really compare because it isn’t really a story or collection of past experiences.   Perhaps it would have been more interesting if specific feedback from Facebook or Twitter users was provided, but I think that would have also defeated the purpose of random sampling a thousand people.  I was surprised by many of the statistics, and maybe you guys will be too.  I’m interested in what you guys think, and if any of you fall into the statistics.

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1 Comment

  1. HAHAHA. I must admit that I would have fallen into this category back in my very early 20’s, “Around a third (32 percent) know someone whose offline relationship ended because of their actions online. The number rises to 39 percent among the 18-34 cohort (millennials).”

    Great article and great insight, Chelsey.


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