South East Branch Seminar
The rapidly evolving nature of ‘social media’ means we can be permanently ‘in touch’ with the world and the world ‘in touch’ with us in ways undreamt of in the past. This has not occurred without some concern about the way in which this has evolved and the implications for our thinking on relationships such as friendship. Developments in the use of technology (particularly the growth of social networking sites - SNSs) have caused a re-evaluation of the stance of philosophers such as Cocking and Matthews (2000) that ‘virtual friendship’ could not provide deep friendship. Nevertheless, a significant literature is evolving that suggests that virtual friendship may indeed have distinct features in common with real life friendship and thus makes similar demands.
Teenagers (and pre-teens) are considered major users of such SNSs and theorists constantly express concerns about the vulnerabilities that this usage may open us up to, particularly the possibility of impact on interpersonal development. In this paper, I examine the research on friending, denying friending and unfriending within SNSs, comparing these with such acts in real life friendships. I conclude that some uses of SNSs serve to make concrete the ‘imaginary audience’ long associated with adolescence. In other words, it may not be friendship itself that has changed, but merely the way in which we conduct it.
Poster available here.
Please conform attendance to Andrew Peterson.