MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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Eureka! My lightbulb moment

The required reading Social Networking Technology: Place and Identity in Mediated Communities really emphasized the overlap between on-line and off-line ‘communities,’ and the fact that the two are inextricably related. Honesty, before starting this course I viewed the two as completely different and separate worlds. This may sound like a very narrow minded way of looking at it, but I truly saw the on-line as merely a tool that I used to complete tasks relevant to my off-line, real life objectives and certainly not a ‘community’ that I was a part of. However, the qualitative analysis conducted on the exchanges between two, open access Myspace users made me reevaluate these sentiments. Specifically, Benedict Anderson’s original concept of ‘virtual togetherness’ is what made me realize that I am part of a ‘virtual community.’ Let me explain. I am a transfer student, studying away from my native province. I mainly utilize the SMS Facebook to stay connected with close friends and family back home. Despite our geographical distance, I absolutely feel a sense of belonging to these people, especially in relation to our pre established off-line relationship. They send me invites to events I am unable to attend and share photos of new happenings in their daily lives to keep us connected and maintain a ‘shared sense of togetherness’ as stated by Anderson. I now understand and support the hypothesis that new and unfolding forms of virtual communities are not stand alone or isolated from off-line communities. They are, as concluded in the reading, “delicately interwoven.” So, while I’m finally able to see the connection between on-line and off-line communities and reign in the abstract on-line, I still can’t help but wonder: 

 

Are SMS’s like Facebook a ”symbolic resource” for interpersonal communication, as the reading suggests, or evidence indicating that we’re reverting back to the traditional methods of communication?

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May 31, 2009 - Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , , ,

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