On the transformation of everyday culture in an era of liquid modernity

On Facebook as “the bureaucratization of friendship”

In everyday life, social networking sites on October 3, 2007 at 10:52 am

This is very interesting in my opinion – and it begs the question if social networking doesn’t thrive on a marketization of social relations which in turn relies on 1) the ranking, valorization and management of different “friendships” and 2) the tendency to “brand” one’s own identity, to document it for posterity and to maximize its value in the face of one’s own (semi)public network of friends.

The hypertext link called “friendship” on social networking sites is very different: public, fluid, and promiscuous, yet oddly bureaucratized. Friendship on these sites focuses a great deal on collecting, managing, and ranking the people you know … The structure of social networking sites also encourages the bureaucratization of friendship. Each site has its own terminology, but among the words that users employ most often is “managing. [A Pew survey] found that “teens say social networking sites help them manage their friendships.” There is something Orwellian about the management-speak on social networking sites: “Change My Top Friends,” “View All of My Friends” and, for those times when our inner Stalins sense the need for a virtual purge, “Edit Friends.” With a few mouse clicks one can elevate or downgrade (or entirely eliminate) a relationship.

Read more (alternatively, Rough Type).

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