#312 Going with the Facebook flow
Monday 10th March, 2008
My emotions are all over the place and I blame Facebook; its getting tiring any advice?!
As an ‘ever-present’ social space Facebook takes on new social meaning and significance in our daily routines and ‘hi how are you’s’. As a result the emotive labour of being so connected can be arduous for some, particularly if you are not used to such levels of exposure and participatory demands that are made. This is all about subjective meaning and the cultivation of a sense of self. From the first moment you set up your profile you are ‘opting in’, into a domain that has specific social prompts and actions. By confirming that you are on the site, be prepared for a flurry of messages, pokes, posts and gentle prodding to gain attention.
Encouragement to display, ‘confess’ and manage actions match social expectations that are about the expression of various emotive states; e.g. take care that the ‘amusing’ well post that you placed at 3am is not interpreted as ‘sad’ or ‘desperate’. So emotive display and perception of others is integral to the experience of being on Facebook; the integration of what has been previously separate on and offline domains.
The emotions have been described as compulsive thoughts that are felt at the height of the moment. Such heights of moment gain attention on Facebook when setting your status to ‘hungry’ can take on a number of interpretative meanings and generate speculative questions. From the obvious: Hungry for what? To the judgemental: Huh ‘hungry’ like I care’! And including the relational: Ooo that’s made me feel hungry too!, I must find something to eat, etc.
I bet you never knew you wielded such potential social networking power hmm…
Social networking ‘power’ and participatory obligations can be ‘hard work’. Emotionally attached to Facebook users can deliberately present a series of intriguing snippets designed to provoke and sustain interest. Profile states are a complex intertwining of the; ‘who I am’, ‘who you think I am’, ‘who I want to be’ and ‘what I want you to see’ aspects of identity. Like the ‘real’ self these serve to bring together the You and you, and you and… in a seamless set of interconnections and display information. Suddenly though things get exhausting internalised states are opened up for display (e.g. Facebook Notification: Jane is no longer listed as single) and we judge one another on the relation to one another. This is not to assert that emotive indicators are the only means of construction and expression, but these are the ones that take the most energy, commitment and have the potential to fail to meet our own emotional needs when not reproduced in the appropriate manner or taken in quite the right way.
So advice: take control (and stock) of your emotions. Avoid those pokes, wall posts and especially picture uploads. Content plays THE central role on Facebook for who and what you are. General social conventions about not acting like an over intensive nutcase should follow suit when in the ‘digital’ and connected realm of SNSs. In this way as individuals we get to live, understand, mix and experience all our everyday actions and ‘hellos’. Plus you won’t be so exhausted that if you do put a foot wrong, you can easily put a positive spin on things instead; ‘oh THAT message, well I was just being silly, hope you enjoyed it (haha)’ could be your saving grace!
In short, enough emotional stress; go with the flow…Tweet