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In: Social Issues

Submitted By loyd0015
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Abstract Facebook.com, a popular online social network site, provides its users with a means for representing their identities in the digital world.[1] With the “Profile,” each user can manipulate his or her online identity that concurrently delineates personal information and converses with other online identities or “Friends.” Gender, date of birth, hobbies, interests, and relationship status are some of the identifying pieces of information that users display to fill out their Profile. The Profile not only depicts the user, but also shapes the representation of other individuals on Facebook.
Scholars have recently begun to study the Facebook phenomenon using surveys and statistical analyses, but none have used ethnography as a means for analysis. This paper draws upon ethnographic data to provide a phenomenological explanation to the Facebook experience. It argues that the digital world is a large part of the experience of young Americans and that the Internet is more social than commonly thought.[2] Moreover, this paper problematizes the static nature of the Profile, arguing that the Profile converses directly with others’ Profiles in a constantly changing digital context that is simultaneously recreated and interpreted. Introduction Embodied conversation between individuals begins when they weave performance and interpretation into an intricate dance that allows individuals to consider voice and body cues. Meaning is interpreted from the context of the conversation and nuances of body and gesture.[3]
However, embodied conversation differs from computer-mediated communication, where individuals must write themselves into being.[4] With the Facebook Profile, multiple forms of media attempt to bridge the physical and the digital worlds and recapture some of the interpersonal cues that have been filtered out by the medium.[5] Ultimately, the digital...

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