#288 Encounters of the 3rd party kind
Saturday 20th October, 2007
So getting a lot of 3rd party application requests? Your profile page pimped like a MySpace glib impression? Hmm what does this all mean?
The social theorist Goffman rather than dividing interactions into ‘eventful’ and ‘routine’ communications, instead proposed a more appropriate division of social labour that is ‘unfocused’ and ‘focused’ communication. Such are the ‘encounters’ on Facebook, and those cries for attention that bound forth from newsfeeds and that helpful notifications page.
Where once unfocused interactions were a part of communications led solely by ‘being in one another’s presence’, on Facebook this is a state that is about social involvement all the time. Attention may not be focussed on any one single instance of communication; especially when the zombie’s are biting and you have more than one wallpost to respond to – such is this kind of digital life when everyone decides to descend upon your wall and post at precisely the same time. Usually coinciding nicely with that point when you need to get away from your laptop and remind yourself of the benefits of daylight. As in the offline (disconnected) world of face-to-face and body-to-body encounters where we are used to checking up and scoping out each others postures, manner, clothing and general being we modify our demeanour in light of such observations online too. On Facebook there are a new set of encounter brokers, where a reciprocated message, poke or superpoke replicate such observations and behavioural modifications as a part of our connected and online lives.
The separate capacity for unfocused and focused social interactions are perhaps a thing of the past, as those offline strategies of conversation, roles, social functions and the like become converged with other newer forms of mediated communication as best befits the poking, posting, tagging and newsfeeding and 3rd party applications of the Facebook playground. The same social properties that are offline, can be found online – as can the same risks, anxieties, fears and potentially satisfaction – these are all latent and manifest as the ‘ultimate’ social force of what is a very communicative and information savvy society.
And you thought that poke was just a ‘simple’ point of social contact, nope your doing something much more nuanced and sophisticated, that or your just a bit tipsy on the Cab Sauv and probably should not be logged into your Facebook account. A good time to step away from the log-in page… Take a deep breath; Facebook, your profile, and ergo ‘You’, will still be there in the morning – one version is less humiliated by the state of their friends walls covered with awkward postings and thwarted quizzes, hot potatoes and warewolf bitings doing the rounds though.
So why is all this so important? Because there have been so many concerns and incidence of seemingly ‘unexpected’ and ‘out of control’, or at least ‘unknown’ social situations. Like what the hell do you do with all those ‘hotness’ quizzes?
Paradoxically things are more similar than first they appear. Ok so in your ‘real’, offline and disconnected life your unlikely to receive a vampire request, unless your a Whitby resident, buuuuuuuuuut think of this as the social equivalent of playing playground tag and Chinese whispers and you can see how you are being invited to be a part of something, to identify yourself as part of a particular activity or group that share in common some form of symbolisation – yes it’s not enough to be on Facebook now, now you have to have the ‘right’ applications, group membership and superpoke activity.
The 3rd party organisation of Facebook is clever, being part of a social network is high pressured these days. By accepting that hotness request, or passing on that hot potato you are recognising, drawing attention to and defining the ‘special’ connection to between another. Ultimately we are perceived as members of a wide community that wants to ‘belong’ and identify to one another, members that sustain as sense of reciprocated socialisation interlock friends to one another. This means that those applications will continue to spread like the virus’s they are. Until we all get so bored with them and descend upon new social criteria to irritate each other with…
So think of Facebook as a social occasion; an occasion to have some fun and to anchor connections as a part of role playing (who doesn’t deep down inside really want to play at being a warewolf/vampire/zombie just for a little while). Utlimately these prevent networks from stagnating and getting left by the (non-digital, non-connected) (dark) wayside. That or they are just deeply irritating. Now who am I going to SuperPokey next?Tweet