Academic journal article Polish Sociological Review

From Vis-Á-Vis to Face (Book)-to-Face (Book) Interaction. A Study on Friendship between Young Students

Academic journal article Polish Sociological Review

From Vis-Á-Vis to Face (Book)-to-Face (Book) Interaction. A Study on Friendship between Young Students

Article excerpt

Abstract:

This article presents the main results of an empirical research conducted on two places where young students make friendly relationships: school and Internet. It is obvious that two different places symbolize two different levels of reality. Are they complementary or contradictory? Are the friends of this real world equal to Facebook friends? Can we consider school friendship the same as the friendship accepted, and removed, by a simple click? The author tries to pinpoint the hidden mechanisms through which the virtual reality is actualized. By the social relational ontology, it's possible to understand better and deeper the link between social capital of the young students and the continuum passage from on-line to off-line friendship.

Keywords: Facebook, Social Capital, Virtuality, Actualization, Friendship, Relational Theory.

Introduction

In her last book, Alone together: why we expect more from technology and less from each other, the Boston MIT's science sociologist, Sherry Turkle (2011), strictly criticizes FB creator-Mark Zuckeberg-when she asserts that ?privacy' is no more a social rule. On the contrary, probably from an unconscious Simmelian perspective, Turkle cannot contemplate intimacy without privacy: privacy is essential for human relationships, whereas it obstructs social networks. According to Turkle's idea, the solitude caused by technology depends on the assumption that technology itself causes addiction in people by obliging them to be always online (Turkle 2008). The unread message represents the contemporary symbol of social expectations, of the double contingency quandary and, at the same time, of the hope that something new could happen. It is compulsory to reply because the other person knows that his/her message has been read. The identity of the Self finds itself in a ?cycling-through' (Turkle 1995; 2008): thanks to the ?mobile technology', all the roles played by the Self are in a constant co-presence. If in the past it was sufficient to ?change' the physical place to change the role, now, in the digital reality, we chat, starting and performing several roles at the same time.

A situation emerges of a non-stop conversation, where-Sacks's words perfectly fit-"we need to know what everyone else is doing in an ordinary way. Therefore, we need to have at our disposal everything it is necessary to put it in practice." (Sacks 2007: 37). Twitting, chatting, posting, blogging are not only opportunities to communicate but they also represent a way to be connected. It is more important to be connected to the web than to conversation: a virtual level of reality, as the web, to be reciprocally connected. If in the current world, that Turkle describes as physical, social interaction is what "uniquely transpires in social situations, that is, environments in which two or more individuals are physically in one another's response presence" (Goffman 1982: 2), in FB Svorld', or in the Internet one, how can interaction be defined?

In 1982, when Goffman wrote his Presidential Address for the American Sociological Association's congress-which he could not read it because of his early death- Internet virtual reality was just a first attempt and, in particular, it was the privilege of few people. Just three years later, the first ?chat' between two Machintosh computers was created. The founding father of interaction, Goffman, did never experienced the virtual level of interaction, the potential order-where it is not felt and experienced the physical presence of the other person-the cognitive relationship-core of the interactional life, as Goffman himself asserts-which occupies a different order from the current one. How can the potential order be converted into the real one? In other words, how can FB-FB relations turn into the vis-à-vis ones? And, above all, why is it necessary to carry this passage out? It is the basic question which inspires this study.

This article presents the main results of an empirical research conducted on two places where young students make friendly relationships: school and Internet. …

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