Digital Communities and Social Media. Where to start? For anyone questioning the growing social media culture in which we live I can assure you in the time it has taken me to write these three lines I have closed Facebook and reopened it at least 6 times. What I am trying to determine now – and with the help of some of the theories I have covered – is, why?
Boyd (2012) believes that we as a society are ‘always on’. This term isn’t to be taken literally, though there are many from the older ‘back in my day…’ generation who will no doubt feel differently, but rather an acceptance that with the technology we have integrated into our every day lives we are closer to permanent connection than ever before. We might not actively seek out the internet, but if we need it, it is there with the touch of a finger.
To some extent I agree with Boyd – though I find myself in an interesting predicament that most others wouldn’t. Living the last three years between two countries I find that social media is an absolute godsend when it comes to keeping in contact with family and friends who are on opposite sides of the world at any given time. To this end I cannot dispute my online presences as ‘always on’ as if I am not conversing with locals on the same time zone by day I am talking to the others by night. Waking up to a hundred notifications is nothing uncommon – especially with the lads group chat on WhatsApp split between four countries.
Whether you agree with Boyd or not the integration of social networking into our every day lives and the ease at which we can now connect with our peers is astonishing given that 10 years ago you couldn’t use the phone and the internet at the same time without hearing some precursor to dubstep. Whether it is in digital communities like those of reddit or the closed network of a Facebook or LinkedIn or in more ambiguous social media platforms for public interaction like Twitter society has been empowered through these connections in a way that was never previously possible – and may have never even been dreamt of save for in science fiction.
As we continue to move rapidly through 2017 I look forward to being able to explore in further detail some more of the concepts and theories being looked at and hopefully gaining some more insight into both my own social media consumption and others. Hold that thought – I just got a notification, I’m off to check Facebook (again).
Boyd, D 2012, Participating in the Always On Lifestyle, in Mandiberg (ed) The Social Media Reader, NYU Press, pp. 71-76.