[Air-L] Reputation and friending

Ted Coopman ted.coopman at gmail.com
Mon Jan 4 18:42:57 PST 2010


Forgot to hit "reply all" (risking setting off another debate - I hate
having to that).

Happy new year.

I have been bombarded with people I allegedly went to High School with
and without whom I have led a fairly happy life since. This has led me
to think about the oppressive qualities of social media. This puts the
receiver of the friend request - much like an in-person direct request
for friendship, which would be weird (IMO) - in an awkward position.
"Ah, yeah, can I get back to you on that...?" Such a request f2f2
would be, I think, odd and slightly pathetic, but is ok online. Maybe
it is just semantics.

I have discussed this with my students and many report the same
feeling. They have also mentioned the aggressive quality of the text
and that some friends get upset if there is not an immediate reply or
offended if they are somehow left out of a group text. The level of
"friendly" surveillance is almost stalkerish (if freinding is a word,
then stalkerish can be a word!).

This is not directly my area, but is anyone doing any research on this?


On Mon, Jan 4, 2010 at 11:37 AM, Alexander Halavais <halavais at gmail.com> wrote:
> This may seem at odds with a URL posted earlier, but with the greatest
> respect (and sympathy) for those who have already entered into this
> thread, I humbly suggest that discussing any person's character on
> AIR-L is:
> 1. Inappropriate. AIR-L is intended to further research and while it
> frequently becomes a more friendly community, none of us would want
> our personal character adjudicated in such a public setting. So, to
> second Peter's comment, I think we should quit it.
> 2. Ineffective. Really, the question of whether to befriend someone or
> "friend" someone is more effectively handled by talking to people you
> trust and, for people who write in public, reading what they have
> said. Why would you trust 2,000 relative strangers' opinions on
> another stranger? If we want to talk about something a person has
> written, an argument they have made, or even a project they have
> undertaken, that's another kettle of fish, and this would be a great
> topic.
> 3. Boring. I don't really care, particularly, about the reputation of
> a single person. I know some do--that's why TMZ rakes in the bucks. I
> encourage someone to start a Reid Cornwell fan page on Facebook, or an
> "anti-fan" page if they prefer. I just don't think it is why people
> come to AIR-L.
> So, since the above is very much "do as I say, not as I do," I
> recommend the following tangents, which actually take those issues on
> without ever having to talk about any single person:
> 1. Has the nature of reputation changed? Do we now make friends in a
> different way? Most of the people I consider friends IRL I met either
> because I was introduced to them by people I trusted, or because we
> were forced to work together on something (school, work, sporting
> team, chain gang, same diff.). But now, I feel Helen's pain: If you
> are a friend of Henry's shouldn't you also be my friend?
> 2. Is whuffie a reasonable construct? Do we all, like public
> officials, now have "approval ratings"? Did we always, and now it is
> more explicit?
> 3. How, when anyone online can be a dog, do we determine if someone is
> a "mensch"? I know that many of you on this list have "alts," and nom
> de plumes (d'ordinateurs?). If you are like me, you are concerned that
> they keep their "good name," even if they happen to be fake. How do we
> determine if a person or an organization is "legitimate"? If it
> "matters"? When does the social construct of a public persona or
> organization become "real"? Where is the border between astroturf and
> grass roots--or is there any? (Obviously, this is a question Wikipedia
> struggles with.)
> Discuss.
> </threadjack>
> --
> --
> //
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> // Alexander C. Halavais, ciberflâneur
> // http://alex.halavais.net
> //
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Ted M. Coopman Ph.D.
Department of Communication Studies
Department of Television, Radio, Film, & Theatre
San Jose State University

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