[Air-L] Reputation and friending

Brady Robards brady.robards at gmail.com
Mon Jan 4 23:05:34 PST 2010

Hi Ted and all -- (first time poster, long time lurker!)

I'd say there are a few people doing research in this area, although perhaps not explicitly along the lines you mention. I'm currently writing an article that comes from the broader qualitative project I'm working on (my PhD) which begins to chart some of the strategies young Australians are developing to negotiate unsolicited contact on social network sites - including from long-lost school friends, commercial entities or even Universities. While for the purposes of my PhD I've limited my scope here to young Australians, I predict the emerging strategies I'm noticing here will be found wherever people are engaging with these issues: What constitutes friendship/Friendship? What happens when I delete a Friend, or someone deletes me? How can I be open-minded with Friendship, but also maintain my online privacy? I've found (contrary to discursive constructions of the limited nature of online sociality) that the young people in my study are developing really strategic and multi-faceted ways of managing their privacy on social network sites which is informed by a very personalised conceptualisation of friendship. Everything from 'I only Friend people I've been drunk with' through to 'I Friend anyone who looks interesting' and even reports such as 'I deleted most of my Friends recently in a "Friendship cull" because too many people had access to my page'.

I think it's a really juicy area of investigation. Not strictly the focus of my thesis (more concerned with identity construction and belonging on social network sites) although I've found these questions impossible to avoid (nor would I want to avoid them) as my fieldwork has progressed.  I've been drawing on many of the resources listed in the database maintained by danah boyd -- http://www.danah.org/researchBibs/sns.html. I have found much of danah's own writing on Friendship to be really helpful and informative. One item that isn't on the list that I've been reading in preparing the paper I'm working on is called "‘Friending’: London-based undergraduates’ experience of Facebook"by Jane Lewis and Anne West (2009).

I hope that helps, Ted. And thanks all for the great discussions on this list!


Brady Robards
PhD Candidate, Griffith University
Gold Coast, Australia

On 05/01/2010, at 12:42 PM, Ted Coopman wrote:

> All,
> 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?
> -TED

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