You have HOW many Facebook friends?

Too Many Friends?

I have 97 Facebook friends.

This is the result of a recent culling from 112. From what I understand (which may be nothing, but that’s an existential tangent of its own), this is a small amount of Facebook friends to have. I’ve always been confused by the amount of friends people have on Facebook, but reading Pearson’s article The Performance of Identity on Online Social Networks allowed me to form a hypothesis:

People have many Facebook friends because the playfulness and flexibility in social relationships social networking allows means that a person can friend without any level of commitment.

Unlike offline interactions, friending someone on Facebook doesn’t carry with it the expectation of a particular level of interaction. You can friend someone you’ve seen once and never talk to them again, and this is not considered a breach of etiquette. (Whereas if you indicated that you would like to be friends with someone offline and then never spoke to or saw them again it would be considered weird, to put it politely.) This allows for a category of ‘maybe-friend’: People who may not be part of your social network, but you think might belong there in the future.

Basically, Facebook is the person equivalent of citation-management software: You can clip anything (anyone) that is relevant, and then later when you’re writing a particular project (or expanding your social circle), you can pull the relevant articles (people) into a group for easy access and formatting.

Friendship Curation?

One often-discussed idea in the library world is the idea of information, or content, curation. Facebook friends who are in the ‘maybe-friend’ group can be viewed as information objects rather than relationships (albeit information objects whose information is the potential for relationships), and therefore it stands to reason there’s a curation process. The interesting thing is that I don’t think people are very aware of this process. I certainly wasn’t.

My curation process for FB friending involves asking myself these questions:

  • Do I know them in real life?
  • Have I spoken to them more than once?
  • Do I like them and want to speak to them again?

Generally, if the answer to one of these is ‘no’, I’m much less likely to friend someone. So I have very few ‘maybe-friends’, but that’s by design. Controlling who I friend is one of my ways of controlling my performance: I am more able to be myself because fewer people are invited into the house containing the glass bedroom, to extend Pearson’s analogy.

Questions for you:

I would be interested in hearing what people think about this, and in particular:

  • How many Facebook friends do you have?
  • What is your Facebook (or other platform) curation process?

My Name is Megan and I hate Social Media

Introduction Posts are the Most Boring Posts of All

My name is Megan Brown and I hate social media. Or, more accurately, I’m a social media skeptic. In my personal life, the only social media platforms I currently use with any regularity are Facebook and Reddit. I’ve signed up for Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Tumblr, and I don’t use a single one of them. I don’t even particularly like Facebook all that much; it feels more like an obligation than anything else. Reddit feels like a candy binge for the brain, and not the fun kind of candy binge, the ‘it’s Halloween and I shouldn’t have any more candy and I know I’ll feel sick in the morning but I can’t stop even though I feel mildly ill’ sort of candy binge. I picked up a Reddit habit while I was working graveyard shifts, and I’m trying to quit.

For this blog, I hope to have thoughts inspired by the information provided in class followed by some questions that come up that I’d like some insight on.

Where I’m Coming From

When reading, it’s always good to know the author’s perspective and biases. Here are some of mine:

  • I’ve been online for a long time. 21 years this year. Yes, I was online when I was 5. Yes, it was 1993. So some of my jadedness comes from previous experience with fads ending not with a bang, but with a whimper. I did ‘social media’ in the past, but it was mostly forums and then LiveJournal in its heyday.
  • I’m visually impaired. Not severely so, but I have neurological-visual issues stemming from childhood blindness that impact how I interact online. This will probably come up, as some of my personal likes, dislikes, and thoughts on social media stem from this aspect of my experience.
  • I am a technological pragmatist. I’m very comfortable with technology (I built the computer I’m typing this on), but technology is always goal-centered to me. I don’t tend to engage with it out of novelty or exploration.

Why Do You Hate Social Media?

The dislike I have of social media isn’t like my irrational hatred for the color yellow; there is method to my madness. My dislike is personal and you won’t find any neo-Luddite going-ons about the decline and fall of brilliant intellectual discourse that of course peaked right before our own era. So, the reasons I dislike social media are, broadly speaking:

  1. Its facilitation of last minute plans and not planning ahead – I also dislike cell phones, to be fair. I enjoy having clearly defined plans and conversational times, and social media doesn’t tend to have that. It’s a never ending flow of information, and I personally can’t handle it, mostly due to my ADD. I lack an internal sense of time, and can’t tell the difference between 2 minutes and 30, so checking social media is fraught with much peril.
  2. It doesn’t feel fulfilling –  I can spend 3 hours on Reddit, but I just feel bad afterwards.
  3. The communication styles don’t match with mine – As Boyd mentions (and which I’ll be mentioning in my next post), the internet and social media are becoming more visual, and also shorter. Twitter with its 140 characters, Vine with its 6 second videos, etc.  As somebody who’s visually impaired, this communication switch is exhausting. Text alone can be zoomed, printed out, read to you, but images are difficult for me to process, especially in large quantities.


If You Hate Social Media, Why Are You Taking a Class About It?

There’s a couple of reasons that I decided to take this class:

  1. Everybody Else Sure Seems to Like It – People really love social media. It is entirely possible that I’m wrong, missing the point, and just not getting it. I’m open to being proven wrong, or to social media having clear utility to either my life or for the institutions in which I work. I want to expand my horizons.
  2. Practical Concerns – Workplaces use social media. There is a push for social media. Outside of my preferences for my personal life, I also am interested in library assessment (and I work in the Assessment Office for UBC’s library system). I want to have conversations and understand how social media is used in a library/archival setting, and more specifically use that understanding to define how a successful social media presence can be measured and evaluated. Social media is a really good example of rapid change; at what time do new systems or platforms become worth adopting?

My Question to You:

  • Why do you like social media? (We’re starting with an easy question; let’s get those discussion options rolling!)