[Note: This link will open up a PDF of the Journal Article]

”’Our findings further extend previous evidence of systematic cultural differences in the offline world to cyberspace, supporting the extended real-life hypothesis,” the researchers said, “which suggests that individuals express and communicate their self-representation at online social network sites as a product of extended social cognitions and behaviours.’”

Nostalgia for the good old days of disconnection would not just be pointless, it would be hypocritical and ungrateful. But the very magic of the new machines, the efficiency and elegance with which they serve us, obscures what isn’t being served: everything that matters. What Facebook has revealed about human nature—and this is not a minor revelation—is that a connection is not the same thing as a bond, and that instant and total connection is no salvation, no ticket to a happier, better world or a more liberated version of humanity. Solitude used to be good for self-reflection and self-reinvention. But now we are left thinking about who we are all the time, without ever really thinking about who we are. Facebook denies us a pleasure whose profundity we had underestimated: the chance to forget about ourselves for a while, the chance to disconnect.

"Is Facebook Making Us Lonely"

If Facebook had been invented in 1995. Note: you’ll need Netscape to properly load this video. 

What we do on social media platforms is often analyzed as a performance or construction of the self. On this view, what we are doing is giving shape to our identity. What we “Like” is the projected identity, or better yet, the perception and affirmation of that identity by others. This, of course, does not exhaust what is done with social media, but it is an important and pervasive element.

When we think about social media as a field for the construction and enactment of identities, we tend to think of it as the projection, authentic or inauthentic, of a fixed reality. But perhaps we would do well to consider the possibility that identity on social networks is not so much being performed as it is being sought, that behind the identity-work on social media platforms there is an inchoate and fluid reality seeking to take shape by expending itself.

From "What do I like when i like on Facebook?"

It’s not hard to imagine how the less confident students, despite moving in a forum that promised connections galore, might grow more isolated, revving the cycle all over again.

I find these results oddly heartbreaking. It seems an irony typical of the Internet that the people who feel safest expressing themselves online actually damage their social standing when they do so. Not because they’re somehow opting out of the real world, as Facebook critics like to insist, but because they are lulled into relaxing their facades. Cheery icons and a shiny, sanitized format make it easy to project the friendliness of a diary onto the Facebook community. Yet the site doesn’t “change” your audience so much as disguise it. Those with low self-esteem may treasure Facebook because it eliminates situations in which social feedback is inevitable (whereas you can’t help seeing your friend’s aggrieved expression when you slip up in person). But you need live feedback to teach you to navigate relationships with grace.

We’ve heard how Internet anonymity—or the illusion of it—can give people license to act like boors. Yet it seems we’re less attuned to the dangers of seeing other Internet users as anonymous or unreal. Social networking sites, with their endlessly personalized apps, can sometimes feel less like meeting places than giant mirrors (Facebook for me has always had the echoey effect of a mansion that a crowd of partiers has just vacated.) Amanda Forest’s study should remind us that when we’re online, for better or for worse, we’re not alone.

From Slate’s If You Think Your Facebook “Friends” Don’t Like You, They Probably Don’t”

"But you need live feedback to teach you to navigate relationships with grace." I don’t think I could like this sentence more if I tried. Real time social dynamics, especially negative ones, can be incredibly powerful catalysts for individual growth. But more importantly, having opinions, even ones that are perceived as unsavory, are what make you interesting and worthwhile as a person. That being said, someone who is constantly negative in their FB updates may be perceived as trying to gain attention or deliberately trying to be provocative which, in turn, can incite more people to dislike them. There is a fine line between being opinionated and being a whiny jerk. 

In our phone survey, we asked SNS users a variety of questions about their close friends on and offline, the kind of support they received from their friends, the level of diversity of their social circles, and their civic and political activity. We matched the answers to those survey questions to data in these users’ Facebook logs and then analyzed the relationship between certain activities on Facebook and the social lives of these users. One key finding is that Facebook users who received more friend requests and those that accepted more of those friend requests tended to report that they received more social support/assistance from friends (on and offline). There was also a weak, but positive relationship between receiving and approving friendship requests, as well as posting status updates, and higher levels of emotional support, such as help with a personal problem.

From "Why most Facebook users get more than they give"

Via Pew Internet

My immediate thought on the above, albeit interesting, correlation is that more gregarious and social people (i.e., the kinds of people who are more likely to receive and accept friend requests) are probably more likely, due to their social nature, to ask for/receive more emotional support from friends. Other than acting as another communication tool between people, does Facebook actually affect the process or encourage people to reach out more? My inclination would be to say that in certain situations that is the case but it’s contingent on the willingness of people to publicly share their feelings or needs. But what of people in need but who are unable to communicate those needs? Does FB empower them to give or receive more support? 

Just got my batch of Moo’s free Facebook business cards. It pains me to admit this but I actually kind of love them. I think they’re pretty neat. My use of “$trategy” and quoting Kanye West on the cards amuses me to no end as well. 

Get yours here.

Imagine arriving home to find a package on your doorstep. Is it a surprise gift? Chocolates or something similar? Instead, you find a wad of documents, covered in single-spaced small type. As the thrill of surprise rapidly disappears, you realize that these pages are all about you. More particularly, all about your life as it exists on Facebook. Every friend you’ve made—and every friend you’ve deleted—is there. So is every event you’ve been invited to and invitations you’ve accepted. There are the log-in details of the many locations where you’ve accessed your Facebook account, as well as a list of who you’ve “poked” and everyone who’s ever poked you. All this information is covered in the first 50 pages. This is not some random, futuristic scenario. Sadly, it is a present-day reality.

The United Kingdom is one of the first countries to introduce a law enabling social media-users to access their historical data captured by sites like Facebook. All information is required to be supplied to the user on a CD within 40 days. Needless to say, within hours of the law being passed, Facebook was inundated with thousands of requests. It is hard to see how they will be able to comply with the “40 days” requirement.

From "Facebook’s 880 Pages About You"

Via Fast Company

Baym’s comment on an article about Spotify’s recent change in policy requiring all new users of the service to create a Facebook account. 

This quote from, Ethan Kaplan, a former of SVP of Emerging Technology at Warner Music Group is pretty spot on as well: 

I don’t think its hyperbole to say I was reminded of this (video of Steve Jobs in 1984) when I was watching f8. It seems simple: verbs.But it’s also a statement: Identity is now externalized, completely and holistically.And it will reside on Facebook. And you are either a part of this, or you are not.We’ve now reached our red pill/blue pill moment on the Internet and this will not be as easy of a decision as Mac or PC.”

I recommend Baym’s article, Embracing the Flow for a nice introduction to the impact of emerging technologies on music distribution and the industry at large. 

Meet Charli and Alex. Charli is German. Alex is American. They may have boys’ names, but Charli and Alex are girls. Straight girls. But they love each other, or at least working with each other.Charli’s visa expires on october 9th and she will have to return to Germany, unless she gets hired or married. Alex needs a job too and doesn’t want her partner to leave. Charli and alex love working together so much that they might have to resort to getting married to do so. But you can save them years of feigned lesbian interest by hiring them today or by granting them an interview.” [Emphasis Mine]

I appreciate that this effort is probably earnest in its attempt to help keep one member of a creative duo from being deported, but it’s incredibly insulting and offensive to LGBTQ people. As someone who is employed at a marketing agency, I understand that the industry forces people to pull inventive and creative stunts to get noticed. Some people do this with flair and outright camp, like Mathew Epstein’s efforts to get hired by Google. Others, like Alex and Charli, choose to mock queers, being incredibly offensive in their efforts to get jobs. 

Oh, they’re just being funny, you say? They’re just trying to get jobs and keep Charli in the country. Where’s the harm in that, you say? See, here’s the thing: there are LGBTQ couples that can’t get married in their state of residence and face deportation as a result. I personally know a couple that had to negotiate a partnership across two countries because they couldn’t get married. Recently there was a story about a gay couple, one of whom had AIDS, that had to face deportation. Not funny at all. A job wasn’t on the line. Fear about losing one’s partner, one’s life, was on the line. Losing a friend to another country is sad but losing a life partner is, frankly, sadder.

Stances on gay marriage and deportation aside, Alex and Charli’s efforts to keep Charli in the country are a perfect example of the kinds of homophobia that are allowed to slip through the cracks because they’re perceived as harmless or in jest. It’s an egregious display of heterosexist privilege. It’s just a joke, but at whose expense? The gays shouldn’t just “lighten up.” Wasn’t it just a week ago when another queer teen killed himself, one who even made an “It Gets Better” video? Most of us know it doesn’t get better for everyone in the same way. And it can’t better if stunts like “Hire Us So We Won’t Have to Marry Each Other” are allowed to exist without any push back, without some kind of self-awareness from Alex and Charli. 

If Alex and Charli were truly serious about getting jobs, they’d post parts of their portfolios on their FB page not pseudo-lesbian gal-pal cuddle shots. Their work would speak for itself. They would dream up some kind of campaign that would get them noticed and wouldn’t come at the expense of a politically, socially, and economically marginalized group. On a side note, have these two ever worked at a creative agency? If they did, they’d know that there are lots of LGTBQ folks in the industry. It’s not smart marketing strategy to potentially piss off the group that might be responsible for hiring you. I say this to you as a professional marketing strategist at an agency. 

But judging by this stunt, they’re not creative “out of the box” thinkers because homophobia vis-a-vis straight dude fantasies of girl-on-girl action is as tired a marketing trope as they come. So, creative agencies, don’t hire these two women. They won’t have to marry each other and insult the gay and lesbian couples that actually want to marry one another. 

The first time I laid eyes on the forthcoming Facebook Timeline feature, I immediately thought of Gawker. And then of TV. And then of how Gawker was trying to become TV and how apparently now Facebook was, too. I think going mass, and — better — becoming a mass of infinitely individualized niches is probably good business, but I don’t enjoy it. That’s about the time I start looking for the door. I might just be an early-product-life-cycle consumer, if there is such a thing. (In the early days of alt rock, I think we used to call these people pretentious assholes.)

Why might that be? Where do they lose me? I think part of it might be that what I’m really interested in is writing. I say that in the lowest-brow way possible. I like snarky writing. I like informal writing. I like long writing. I like short writing. I really don’t care, but my expertise — and thus my fandom — lies in the written word. And there’s a point in the life of every website where it makes business sense to go beyond writing, to other, more expensive, supposedly more compelling media. This is the idea behind enhanced ebooks — that books really contain platform agnostic stories that can be elaborated in a dizzying variety of other media

From The Gawkerization of Facebook

Dave Winer wrote a timely piece this morning about how Facebook is scaring him since the new API allows applications to post status items to your Facebook timeline without a users intervention. It is an extension of Facebook Instant and they call it frictionless sharing. The privacy concern here is that because you no longer have to explicitly opt-in to share an item, you may accidentally share a page or an event that you did not intend others to see.

The advice is to log out of Facebook. But logging out of Facebook only de-authorizes your browser from the web application, a number of cookies (including your account number) are still sent along to all requests to facebook.com. Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit. The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.

Read this. 

From "Logging out of Facebook is Not Enough"

It’s unclear if Facebook has responded to this, but given FB’s history of disrespecting user privacy and experience, the assertions made in the above article do not surprise me in the least. Frictionless sharing seems to benefit Facebook and only Facebook because I don’t know a single person who finds value in the onslaught of banal bullshit streaming on the righthand side of the homepage. 

My interests are truly diverse. 

The branding of the self existed long before the Internet and continues to exist offline as well. Performance is something we all do, not a pathology (as Baraniuk’s post hints towards). Facebook only makes clear what these thinkers have known that we all do all the time. Thus, those narcissists Baraniuk describes become reconceptualized as those who are not clever/savvy enough in hiding of their own performativity. What has been pathologized as a disorder is the failure to convincingly pass off one’s fiction as fact. And this pathologization implicitly assumes that there is some fact; some “true” self, an authentic being (a notion that has in its history the Christian concept of the soul).

From Facebook Narcissism.