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 | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Bailey Inquiry: My Virtual Community

After our class with Jolene and the Goodings, Locke & Brown (GLB) reading on place and identity in social media communities, I got to thinking about my own ‘virtual identity’ and how it is indicative of my real life.

The GLB reading looks at a MySpace exchange and deconstructs the text and interprets the relationship, the inferences and makes an assessment of the participants’ identities. Jolene’s research methods on tracking exchanges on facebook took this to another level as it made me look at the way I myself use facebook.

SO like we did in class, I thought I would conduct a mini self-evaluation to examine the details of my facebook (number of friends) and interpret how representative it is of my ‘real’ life (RL).

 I started out with over 500 friends, which is ridiculous because I obviously don’t talk to that many people in RL and don’t need to share any of my information pictures with those people either. I then went through my list and started ‘weeding’ out all of the people I don’t talk to, don’t know etc. I realized that there was so many people that I didn’t know, couldn’t remember where/ why we met and honestly had no real value to my ‘community.’  So I asked myself how did I let it get this out of control?

I realized that it came from a variety of things:

  1. My inability to say no to people  (aka they add me as a friend and I accept);
  2. My need to feel included and that I belong (so I add people that other friends have to feel included); and
  3. My need to shall I say ‘hoard’’ for a lack of a better word (getting so many things, being cluttered and surrounded by stuff).

 Maybe I’m thinking to much into this or maybe I just feel the need to talk about myself (JK), but this exercise really got me to think about the idea of a virtual community, what kind of community environment I wanted and who I wanted to share it with. I realized that having all of these people was of no value to me, and that my identity and community would remain intact regardless or not if they were there.

 

Thoughts? Ideas? Haters?

 

Over and out.

May 27, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , , | 2 Comments