#287 Poking intimacies
Saturday 13th October, 2007
I’m getting a real poking; is this ‘real’ intimacy?
Social networking seems to be taking the lead with a ‘new’ kind of intimacy. Where face-to-face interactions had been a ‘normal’ state of affairs now individuals experience relationships across new media and broadcast to networks of very complex social links. Nothing says social networking at the present time than being ‘bitten’ by a vampire, turned into a warewolf or zombie-fied; all ‘new’ twists on the old poking routine. Then there’s ‘‘super’poke’’; c’est super non?…
One important thing to remember is to respect your own and others social space. There is a penetration of a new social self whose presence is ‘felt’, or rather safe-guarded being online, connected and open at all times. This is availability to the nth degree and an indeterminate ‘poke’ does seem rather sweet, a means to establish a ‘what’s up’ and open dialogue without having to actually ‘say’ anything. Of course this could just be interpreted as being ‘plain lazy’ on the part of the receiver, or just incidence of being ‘plain drunk’, either scenarios that are far from flattering. Classified as a ‘totally pointless function’ by Facebook developers and users alike there’s something more socially intricate than this function at first sight appears.
Take for example the convergence of friendship networks, especially now as in the UK Freshers Week’s provide opportunity for new friends to come online with already established friendship networks. Those friends from college and school are in the same social arena as new university connections. A poke here and there between newly acquainted Facebookers provides an icebreaker, part of an assembled (if clumsy) array of other social rituals or rather performances that can stimulate social interaction and in this case open a dialogue up between ‘newbies’.
There is something beautifully simple about the Poke, it provides a ‘secret’ means to establish a link with someone else in an unrestrained and ‘modern’ manner. Well you can’t get poked in a bar can you, unless your being bumped and grinded (oh ye god’s!). So at best a need to buy another drink, at worse overt (and over-rated) sexual harassment move.
The current open and connected culture of social networking has allowed for new beginnings in terms of social rituals that is changing the kinds of interactions that are experienced and creating not only a new kind environment for these actions to take place, but also creativity in terms of expansion of a social repertoire. Only 18 months ago to receive a ‘poke’ from someone was not something to be taken complimentary, in fact it was likely to accompanied by a sticky kid finger. Keeping apace with fast-changing types of communication has seen the spectacular rise of the third party applications on Facebook. Zombie’s, ware-wolves, vampires alike, they’re just a reinvented poke, re-fashioned until the next round of ‘viral like’ social nudging comes into the arena.
Social networks are just that; social. At the moment the propensity to poke, bite, infect etc may take you no further than the humble poke did before and has a rather vexing tendency to return one to the promise of ‘intimate’ offering only to be waylaid by transformation into the latest creature of the night. What the poke provides is the potential for a new set of social practices; where once communication may have lost its allure, or individuals have simply ‘lost’ touch with one another for a period, this provides opportunity for the initiation, or re-opening up of communication that may lead to a longer series of inter-locked and higher value responses.
Of course in the end a poke could just be a poke, or my hand slipped on the keyboard. But if you do not respond you’ll never know will you…Tweet