How Real Social Networks Differ From Virtual Ones

June 17, 2012 in Daily Bulletin

Gabriel Rossman took a look at virtual social networks such as Twitter and Facebook from a sociological perspective and discussed how they differ from the social networks we maintain in our real non-digital lives:

  • Until Facebook made some changes recently everybody saw the same profile of you. In the real world we manipulate what others see about us depending on who they are.
  • Facebook also encourages friendships to accumulate whereas in real life they decay over time.
    • You could always unfriend them but not only is it time consuming, it can come across as a mean thing to do.
    • This is why a recent bug on Twitter causing people to randomly unfollow others is so interesting. You can tell the true strength of the relationship by whether or not people re-follow after being affected by the bug. Moreover it provides a convenient excuse to unfollow people without being seen in a negative light – people might think that it’s because of the bug – making it more like real life where there’s always uncertainty.

To read more about what sociological theories have to say, how this relates to Julius Casear, how Burger King branded itself as “the official fast food chain of America’s assholes”, and how sociologists feel about social networks, click here.

Source: The Atlantic