Is fear of Facebook manipulating offline interaction too?

Posted on: January 30, 2012

Silhouette of lovers at sunset

I got chatting to a young man, a friend of a friend, the other night. He slowly revealed to me a love affair he was in the early stages of enjoying. But insisted I keep the precise details from our mutual friend. “Because of Facebook.”

The relationship had complications- her divorce is in progress, a young child involved. The man didn’t want our friend to know about his mystery new girlfriend – not because her awareness would be difficult in of itself, but because he worried she would post light-hearted but revealing comments on either of their Facebook walls – that the soon to be ex-husband might see.

In sociological consideration of social media we often contemplate how we censor ourselves in online environments, to avoid comebacks in our professional or social lives. This phenomena arguably results in docile digital users, who temper discourse, consciously and unconsciously, in fear of those watching (with albeit an unequal gaze) who might not approve.

With the imminent switch to Facebook timeline for all users – we are more conscious than ever that what we say, and have said in the past online, may have real-world implications and consequences.

Boy in hall of mirrors

Yet another aspect of this digital/social panopticon is how we adapt our offline activity and discourse, mindful of what might appear online. How we adjust and keep the reality of our lives from social media connections in the ‘real’ world, because we worry about what they will share.

Couple at sunset image via tripadvisor and hall of mirrors via Kulturbot


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