Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Online social networking as theater

Nothing serious actually gets discussed on social networking sites like Facebook and Orkut. The way these sites have shaped out, nay their new raison d’être, is about making members look good to their friends and peers on the site. It is less about spontaneity and more about theatre.

Sometimes what people want to show off about on social networking sites actually reflect a breakdown in social values. The Daily Mail reports that “drunkenly dancing on tables or collapsing in the street used to be a source of acute embarrassment for young women the morning after the night before. Today, they are more likely to boast about it - to the world, with pictures - on social networking sites”

The sad part of this all is that substituting Internet communities for real-life communities, drinking till you are silly, and other mad-cap behavior could in fact be reflections of a far more serious problem in society.

They could be reflecting the loneliness people feel today as traditional communities and real communication break down. People may be trying to replace real communities and long-term bonds with ephemeral communities that present less risks of failure, but at the same time a smaller chance of real strong bonds.

More than 150,000 girls have signed up to Facebook's online forum "30 Reasons Girls Should Call It A Night", where they openly discuss the various states of inebriation - and undress - they have found themselves in, according to the report in the Daily Mail.

Not only do girls discuss their inebriation, but have unabashedly put up their snaps in various states of drunkenness and undress on the forum.

If social networking in the physical world is about the sharing of common themes and ideas, bouncing out of new and unusual ideas, and generally trying to build community, social networking is surely and quickly emerging more as a well-choreographed spectacle, than as a genuine and spontaneous forum for social interaction. See more on this in my earlier blog titled “Orkut as theatre”.

Related article:

Orkut as theatre

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