Ethnography- Facebook

April 14, 2009 at 12:23 am (Facebook- SNS)

I am currently studying the social network Facebook. I have used MySpace in the past, but decided to try Facebook and compare the two. After experimenting with Facebook, I have communicated with family, friends, and coworkers. I’ve also shared photos with others. I also enjoyed talking with old classmates from high school. I thought it was neat to see profiles of friends that I could choose from (verses searching for friends on MySpace). Facebook gives you names of friends in your area or that may have profiles in common. MySpace was vaster and did not connect in this fashion. I had lost communication with many of my friends from high school and did not know their married name. Using Facebook allowed me to connect with those that had a profile.

 

After researching, I learned that many are using Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends. Some were using it to communicate with classmates. Others were using it as a job recruiting tool (allowing employers to view profile). It was also used for advertisement. After conducting online interviews with friends, they shared their reasons for using Facebook. Among the responses were a few such as sharing photos with family and friends (less expensive than mailing pictures), staying connected with family and friends, communicating with present classmates and peers, obtaining a closer relationship with co-workers, and using it as a motivation tool (weight loss group). Keeping in touch was the overall reason for using Facebook.

On a more complex note, Facebook does have some negative aspects. I receive ever comment posted to all my friends. It’s not necessary to receive their comments unless it is posted on ones own profile. Another drawback is nothing is truly private. The privacy settings are not easily understood making your profile assessable to all. Another critical factor is the accessibility for predators viewing photos and luring teens if not monitored correctly (according to Oprah and FBI friend who explained that many crimes occur online through social network systems if not monitored appropriately). Privacy settings should be used to prevent this from becoming a dangerous tool for teens. Any time one is conversing with many people, things can get scrambled. The challenges and games offered when you log on is somewhat a distraction as well. Overall, I liked Facebook much more than MySpace. It is less critical and more family oriented.

From the culture standpoint, according to The Social Web (http://blogs.zdnet.com/social/?p=217) Facebook is becoming more popular to those with an educational background (i.e. college, parents with degrees, community envolvement).  I’ve not oberved that personally.  I’ve used both MySpace and Facebook and it seems it is used by a variety of people.  Most use it to keep in touch.  Others may use it to benefit them in a classroom setting (teachers, students, etc).  It seems more teens are using Facebook for social interactions.  Danah Boyd’s research shows that “teens learn how to navigate a very public culture as a part of coming of age” by using SNS.  This research showed that Facebook users were more collective on thoughts; however, that’s not always true.  I’ve observed several cases where thoughts are open and comments are posted without discretion.  It seems this network is being used by all; adults, teens, parents, friends, etc for the point of socialization.    My personal observations prove that Facebook is used to communicate with others about numerous subjects (and all ages are using this network). After viewing many profiles, I’ve noticed that there are more profiles from ages 15-40.  Considering that I am a female and know how important socialization is, it seems to be used by more females than males.  I noticed that males are using Facebook as invitations for parties, hook-ups, etc. 

After taking a closer look, it is evident that Facebook is a resourceful tool for communication. It can allow many to communicate and stay in touch across the nation. Over the past two months, I have spoken with several friends that I’ve not seen for several years (one friend I hadn’t spoken with in over eight years). I also viewed photos that allowed me to better understand ones culture. One of my friends had posted artwork. Many of my friends had posted pictures of their children, which I had never seen. After researching and experimenting, I conclude that Facebook is a wonderful tool for communication and could be used in the future to connect the world with many different aspects of life. It could be (and probably is) used in the classroom, social environment (family and friends), workplace, etc. It provides a way of communication for many people around the world. It is a positive tool for communication and allows you to collaborate during conversations.

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