MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 11

Christine Rosen, "Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism"

(from The New Atlantis, Summer 2007)

Social networking sites—in widespread use only since 2002—are changing the shape of relationships for millions of Americans. But how are those changes affecting our understanding and experience of friendship and our sense of personal identity? What happens in personal and social life when we are increasingly connected by weak (and conveniently abandoned) ties? Citing numerous studies by social scientists, Christine Rosen asks: "Does this technology, with its constant demands to collect (friends and status), and perform (by marketing ourselves), in some ways undermine our ability to attain what it promises—a surer sense of who we are and where we belong?" Read by Ken Myers. 50 minutes

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    “For centuries, the rich and powerful documented their existence and their status through painted portraits. . . . Today, our self-portraits are democratic and digital. . . .”
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    Making Connections. A new generation of social networking websites appeared in 2002 with the launch of Friendster, whose founder . . . admitted that his main motivation . . . was to meet attractive women. . . .”
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    Degrees of Separation. It is worth pausing for a moment to reflect on the curious use of the word networking to describe this new form of human interaction. . . .”
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    Won’t You Be My Digital Neighbor? [S]ocial networking sites are gatherings of deracinated individuals, none of whose personal boastings and musings are necessarily trustworthy. . . .”
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    Indecent Exposure. MySpace . . . is an overwhelmingly dull sea of monotonous uniqueness, of conventional individuality, of distinctive sameness. . . .”
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    The New Taxonomy of Friendship. The structure of social networking sites . . . encourages the bureaucratization of friendship. . . .”
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    Status Seekers. ‘Every profile is a carefully planned media campaign.’ . . .”
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    Beyond Networking. ‘[A]s individuals use social networking more for entertainment, their level of social involvement decreases.’ . . .”