Preliminaries on Facebook
I’ve been thinking about the sociology of facebook recently – how we developed certain norms about proper (“non-sketchy”) online behavior, and how much of these norms are novel and efficient, vs. inefficient carryovers from offline social instincts. I’ll probably write up a longer post soon. In the meantime, two incisive articles on the topic:
In terms of things like Facebook—I’m a big fan of self-presentation theory, Erving Goffman’s idea that we have a private, backstage self, and a public, front-stage self, and of course Twitter and Facebook and blogs are all an extension of that front-stage presentation. And what I find funny is how many people are just so bad at hiding what they actually think of themselves. You know, on Facebook, some people can’t stop posting self-taken photos of themselves looking beautiful, as if that’s going to impress anyone.
People who talk about themselves a lot are generally disliked. A likable person will instead subtly direct conversation to where others request the information they want to reveal….This appears true of most human interaction, but apparently not of that on Facebook. On Facebook, when you are not posting photographs of yourself and updating people on your activities, you are writing notes listing twenty things nobody knows about you, linking people to analyses of your personality, or alerting them to your recent personal and group affiliations. Most of this is unasked for by others. I assume it is similar for other social networking sites.
If over lunch I decided, without your suggestion, to list to you twenty random facts about me, tell you the names of all my new acquintences, and show you my collection of photos of myself, our friendship would soon wane. Why is Facebook different?
Read the whole thing for some theories and rebuttals.