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Charles Jones

Why Am I Always Talking to Girls? A Journey into a Young Man’s Social Network SOC356 Technology & Society Professor Barry Wellman By Joseph Kanee 998 523 487 Oct. 18, 2012 I certify that there is absolutely no plagiarism in the preparation of this assignment. Signature ___________________ 1 Networked individualism has opened the floodgates for individuals to explore all levels of social bonds. Technology allows us the access to communicate with individuals, both our close-knit companions and more distant acquaintances, on an even playing field. As a result, networks have become more diverse, and the members of an individual’s network that they would deem “closest” to them no longer necessarily dominate interactions. Rather, networks have become comprised of a multitude of different categories that encompass a large range of connections. Each type of connection is generally dominated by a different form of communication, and based on that type of communication, a different amount of time out of one’s total interactions. This is a result of three key social revolutions; the social network revolution, the Internet revolution, and the mobile revolution. Through examining my own social interactions over the course of 48 hours, and a break down of who was communicated with, using what means, and for how long, it will become apparent that these 3 revolutions have had a significant impact of the way I structure my communications and my social network as a whole to fit my individual needs and desires. My social interactions were executed using two devices; my voice and my cell phone. In those devices I utilized 4 different types of communication. My cell phone was used for phone calls, texting and Facebook messaging while my voice was used for both face-to-face interactions and along with the phone for calls. Out of 51 interactions, 25 were texts (49%), 10 were phone calls (20%), 9 were Facebook messages (18%), and 7 were face to face (13%). However in terms of how much time the conversations took of total communication time, text conversations took about 51% and Facebook messaging 2 conversations took up 39%, while face to face conversations and phone calls took a meager 6% and 4%, respectively. The individuals that I communicated with fell into 4 categories; family, friends, Lax bros, and potential slam pieces. Each group carries with it distinct characteristics in qualities of the relationships, strength of the connections, and the types and length of communication used. For instance my family is made up of my mom and dad, both of whom I would consider extremely closely connected to me in my social network. However, family was only communicated to through phone calls, and only took up a total of 27 minutes, less than 1 percent of the total interaction time. “Friends” participated in communication using all the forms, text, calls, Facebook and face to face. These individuals offered a wider span in strength of tie, in that some would be considered closer confidents and others simple acquaintances. Conversation with individuals in this category took about 167 minutes, or 5% of total conversation time, again a rather small amount. Lax Bros, which is made up of significantly close ties, and the largest amount of face-to-face interaction I participate in, still only took up 245 minutes or 7% of my conversation. The most dominant group of interaction by an overwhelming margin was comprised of only two forms of communication, texting and Facebook messaging. Potential Slam Pieces, which is essentially a mix of weak and medium strength ties, being females that I am attracted to and interested in took up an incredible 87% of all communication time, 2901 minutes. Based on this information, inferences as to the general characteristics of my social network can be applied. We see that, without a doubt, the most dominant form of communication in my network is through texting and Facebook messaging, and very 3 predominantly has a female of interest aged 18-21 as the recipient. Conversations with these individuals lasted for significantly longer periods of time than that of the other groups. However, face-to-face interactions were predominantly with Lax Bros; males aged 17-22 whom share closely bonded ties with me. We see that technological forms of communication immensely outweigh face-to-face interactions. We also see that communication was not proportional with strength of bonds, that is to say, those individuals that I have the closest personal connections with did not take up a comparable amount of communication time. Instead, looser bonds like with those of Potential Slam Pieces were communicated with in a disproportionate amount. However, one could argue that, at least in the case of Potential Slam Pieces, that this is representative of an attempt to strengthen aforementioned loose ties. Since these are girls I am trying to spend time with and get to know better before bringing them closer into my life, we have a potential explanation as to why they so excessively dominate my conversations. We see that individuals considered “Friends” constitutes a wide range of bonds, from individuals that are extremely close to me all the way to very casual acquaintances. However the amount of time spent communicating with them is rather equally distributed within the group, regardless of strength of ties. As well, the types of communication with members of this group was rather equally distributed between texting, Facebook messaging, calls, and face-to-face interactions. And as previously mentioned, family was communicated with in the fewest types of communication (just calls), and for the smallest amount of time. In summation, my network is dominated by communication with individuals that maintain weaker bonds rather strong ones, using technology rather than human 4 interaction. Females dominated over males in both numbers and amount of time, as did people closer to the same age as me rather than older individuals. The majority of the network is comprised of students, and most of the interactions take place from either the home, the library, in class, or at a friend’s home. Most of the communications were directed from me to a member of my network rather than them to me, about two thirds to one. And communications varied in length from one minute all the way to 12 hours plus. Ultimately, my network is a classic example of networked individualism, one in which my network characteristics are adjusted to fit my personal needs and interests. This is possible and applicable because of the three major social revolutions, and in exploring these revolutions, it becomes apparent why my network has the characteristics it does. As well, it will become apparent whether the abilities of technology have negatively or positively impacted the structure of my social network. Networked individualism is a sociological theory based around the concept that, rather than being embedded as members of tight knit social groups, individuals in the modern society shape their social networks around themselves as individuals. In these types of social networks, “the person is the focus”, and so the types of interactions that occur are defined by the individuals preferences (Chapter 1). One of the key elements in developing this individualized network is the expanded use of technology to facilitate communication between social ties. In previous types of pre-revolution networks, physical limitations were a significant complication in access to communication, meaning that the family, work unit, and neighborhood were the main composition of one’s social network, and that face-to-face interactions was by far the predominant form of 5 communication (chapter 1). One’s social network was primarily comprised of very close, strong bonds with individuals that were within the physical sphere of one’s domain. However under networked individualism, we see a significant shift towards the exploration of much weaker ties, without the constraints of physical geography as a defining feature of the network. This is a result of the three main social revolutions. The first of these revolutions was the Social Network revolution. This refers to the general expansion of social networks outside one’s family and neighborhood, or “groups”, and into that of an assortment of varying degrees of connections with individuals both near and far. It encompasses the opportunities to explore and diversify one’s networks (Lopata). The Facebook concept is essentially that of the Social Network revolution, in that it encourages the development of relationships between loosely bonded individuals. The second revolution, the Internet Revolution, restructured the tools that are used to establish and maintain social ties. With excessive power of communication and information, the Internet has extended one’s abilities to individualize his/her network (Rainie & Wellman). New methods of social interaction like email, Facebook, twitter, etc. have created a multitude of new methods for an individual to explore their interests as well as create connections with other individuals based on those interests. It has also facilitated an increase in the ease with which a casual interaction can take place, as it has made communication simply a click away. The third revolution is the mobile revolution, which has drastically shifted the accessibility of communication. Whereas in a pre-revolution society, interactions were regulated by time and means, meaning that communications could only be had when it 6 was convenient and coordinated, we see that the mobile revolution has offered individuals 24/7 access to a communicating tool. With the almost uniform use of cell phones, along with data technology, which allows constant access to the Internet, the potential to communicate with other individuals has become exponential as nearly anyone can be contacted from anywhere at anytime. Regardless of the type of relationship, an individual has the tools to interact with any degree of tie, as much or as little as desired. In this concept of networked individualism, and under the pretense of these three major social revolutions, a clearer understanding of the mindset behind my social network becomes relevant. The 24/7 accesses to communication through my cell phone and its online capabilities offers an explanation as to why forms of communication such as texting and Facebook are so dominating in my network. These forms of communication can be maintained with multiple users while accomplishing multiple tasks simultaneously (Rainie & Wellman). The appeal in the ease of communication, whether with weak ties or strong, is a prime factor in the indulgent use of technology for communications purposes. As for the composition of my network, I find networked individualism explains it conclusively. What these revolutions have accomplished is given the individual the ability to define the parameters of his/her social network. Its composition is determined based on my interests. That is to say, if I wish to put my primary communications focus of girls of interest that I have loose ties to, I have the resources and capability of doing so, and am thusly not hindered in creating the network that I choose to. Modern social networking is not defined by types of relationships, but rather by the freedom to explore whatever types of communications one so desires. 7 References: Rainie, Lee, and Barry Wellman. Networked. MIT Press, Chapter 1: The New Social Operating System of Networked Individualism. Print. Lopata, Andy. "Business Sense Blog." Business Sense Blog. n. page. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. 8 # TIME CONTACT MEDIA CONTENT LENGTH RELATION MY DIRECTION LOCATION OCT 12:25 AM L.H. TEXT WHERE 1 MIN LAX BRO HOME ME - HIM 14 1 HE WAS CUZ HE NEEDED MY ID 2 12:26 AM L.H CELL HE WAS 1 MIN LAX BRO HOME HIM - ME AT MY PLACE 3 9:15 AM M.K, L.H TEXT ASKING 1 MIN LAX BROS HOME ME - THEM IF THEY HOOKED UP THE PREVIOU S NIGHT 4 9:20 AM M.K TEXT REPLYIN 7 MIN LAX BRO HOME HIM - ME G SAYING HE DIDN'T GET BOOTY 5 9:35 AM A.R F- ABOUT 8 HOURS POTENTIAL HOME/LIBRA HER - ME BOOK HANGING 480 SLAM PIECE RY/ MESS OUT AGE WITH EACH OTHER/D OG WALKIN G WITH HER AND GENERAL FLIRTS 6 11:03 AM M.M F- THE 6 MIN FRIEND HOME ME – HER BOOK CLASS MESS WE HAD AGE TOGETHE R SHE DROPPED 7 11:15 AM M.K TEXT WHATS 10 MIN LAX BRO HOME ME-HIM UP LEADING TO COMING OVER 8 11:27 M.K, J.H, FACE CASUAL 45 MIN LAX BROS MARCS ME - THEM G.L, T.D TO BRO FACE CHATS 9 11:36 AM S.R TEXT WHEN IS 14 HOURS POTENTIAL MARCS, ME - HER HER 840 SLAM PIECE LIBRARY, TEST, HOME TRYING TO MEET UP AND GENERAL FLIRTS 9 10 12:44 AM S.K
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