Monday, February 25, 2013

online social networks

Bonjour! This post is going to be a little different. I'm currently studying "how online social networks have transformed the dynamics of personal interaction, organizational behavior, marketing, branding, social mobilization, and civic action" in a class of mine. Part of the coursework involves blogging about the articles we read and discussions we have. Below, you'll find just that. Feel free to contribute your thoughts, too.
It's been nearly three years since I took my "relationship status" off Facebook. In that time, I've mostly spent my time "single", but at times I could've been classified as in a "complicated" state. It's only recently actually that I've been "in a relationship" again. And yet, Facebook doesn't know that... not formally, at least.
What I haven't been so conscious about are "my friends".
I spent far too long yesterday going through my list of 1,000+ friends. Being in Paris, I see very few daily, but I still consider a couple of them close friends. In other words, most are not. There are those friends from childhood who I touch base with every now and again, those friends from high school or college that I like to check up on because I still care about them despite not having talked in a while, and then there are those friends from outside my educational networks--like those I met studying abroad, or while traveling, or through blogging. Honestly, I like (for lack of a better word) having these people as my "friends". I'd be genuinely happy to catch up with any of them. And when one randomly "likes" a post or photo of mine, I like to think they feel the same.
According to Psychology Today, a friend can be defined as:
  • A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
  • A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
  • Someone with whom you share mutual knowledge, esteem, affection, and respect, along with a degree of rendering service to in times of need or crisis.
  • Desiring what is best for the other person.
  • Being able to express sympathy and empathy and being honest with each other.
But then there are those "friends" who are anything but: the one who was in my freshman seminar and then passed me without recognition on SU's campus a couple years later, the one who I supposed to have met at a party through my ex-boyfriend's family's friend, the one who I did a summer program with at the age of 15 and haven't thought about since. And that's not accounting for the handful of "friends" who I've, oddly enough, never met, nor those I honestly don't like very much (yes, unfortunately there are a couple). We probably became "friends" at a time when crossing paths elicited a friend request.
Yesterday, I began de-friending these people; not as an act of malace but with attention to the art of deletion. Let's face it, if I could care less about Facebook-stalking or sharing timeline updates with these people, there's a good chance they feel the same way about me. Facebook, however useful while abroad, can get annoying.
Not to mention the fact that there are other ways to connect. Case in point, this blog! Very few readers know this, but I didn't tell any friends or family about this little cyber corner of mine until 6 months or so into it. I wasn't using danielle abroad as a way to keep in touch with those I knew but rather utilizing it as a platform to engage with those I didn't. The same could be said for Twitter, in that sense. Both are public.
And like most other social media users, I tend to not worry about that as much as... perhaps, I should?

P.S. While we're on the topic :) though I do encourage you to "like" with discretion, you'll find more photos from my visit to the Au-delà du street-art exhibition at the Musée de la Poste on my Facebook page.

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