Online friending: information overload and simulation of life

Facebook friending or something like this*: friend requests, group invitations, cause invitations, world’s most abstract invitations, My Lil Lohan invitation, circle of trust, risk, true or false invitations, gifts invitations, birthday calender, friends for sale (the person is no longer friend), southpark character invitations, sketch me, characterize me requests, harry potter, wishabi, twisted Xmas requests, zodiac animal, counter, smile, bless you, hugs, hug me, kiss me, requests to some quizzes: how classy are you?, are you a great kiss, are you romantic?, are you hot or not? cute or sexy?, are you normal? etc, etc. also can be seen some of it here.

Online social networks became more than interacting playground, messaging and friending, also more than writing. The growth of SNS expanded into new ‘neo’ age of online multimedia forms of behaviourism – talking, clicking, poking, exchanging comments, homemade videos, fun walls , super walls, chain emails**, racing, pillow fighting, (human) petting, participating in subnetwork within network.
I came to the moment in my hectic life, to face one lovely day bunch of requests, invites, causes, groups notifications, chain funwall messages coming right from my Facebook friends. Michael Wesch, who teaches cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, (in previously posts mentioned) makes implications on how: “people [are] projecting their identities by demonstrating their relationships to each other. You define yourself in terms of who your friends are.”

We are chosen and we choose. My friends are mainly former students, colleagues from analogue life, present colleagues, professors, friends from both analogue and digital life, and future colleagues and affiliates. Age ranges from 22 to 60 years old. Some of them I didn’t meet face to face yet, some of them sent me email because they are reading my written word, some are friends from other SNS, or micro-blogging sites. Many of them are people from real life, before FB, many of them are idle, and, as extreme, many of them with (I guess) free time are overwhelming (those who are not into exploring digital culture, social web, or similar) with many applications I cannot/won’t handle. ***

“With social networks, there’s a fascination with intimacy because it simulates face-to-face communication,” Dr. Wesch says.

Many of friends from analogue world are very serious, personal and intimate on FB applications including virtual matrix of subnetworks of network. On this subnetwork I will write separately. By creating hybrid masks they are making fundamental distance. They are safe to connect with others through weak ties simulating the physical space and communication flow through distance. Why? Because it’s safe.

One of FB friends (and friends in analogue life) reported me on the other communication channel how he feels safe(r), even communicating, chatting with friends around the block in the same city area, rather than meeting them face to face. Why? Because he can think before writing a feedback through IM or other virtual communication forms, avoiding potential conflict, embarrassment or avoiding to reveal the true ‘behind-the-screen’ character identity, playing Neo or any antipode self made hybrid character with opposite attributes. By this hybrid simulation, this adult is lost in own virtual matrix, teleporting items, people, hybrid-related communications or relations to the offline world.

Some of us are creating this way our social relationships online, I am asking: will this paradoxal effect start to create the way we relate to each other in the offline world as well? We spend more time ‘networking’ and ‘talking’, ‘getting together’, and the fact is we spend less time – getting together, networking and talking, while expanding definition of a * freind* to imply people we rarely meet (from offline world) or we may never meet (from online world). Therefore, I have fundamental question: will our analogue friendships in the real world strenghten or they’ll lessen as we loose ourselves in hybrid structures of online * friending* ?
*Apologize to my FB friends on “notworking” in all these games, tests, invitations. I’m cleaning FB space due to application and information overload. Everything reasonable, creative and inspiring is welcomed!

**Dare to send me any of “forward to your three or seven friends …or…etc” chain funwall messages!

*** Dear friends, if you didn’t check the Beacon box to turn off Beacon, you can do it here. For those who didn’t read FB apologies on privacy concerns, also here.