In Danah Boyd’s article, “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life, she defines a networked public as “a linked set of social, cultural, and technological developments that have accompanied the growing engagement with digitally networked media” (Boyd 8). She simplifies this definition by saying that networked publics are spaces and audiences bound together through technological networks (8). Examples of networked publics are social network websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, and websites that form around common interests such as sports, video games, or other hobbies. There are other types of online communities, but social media sites and sites based around hobbies are two main types. These sites allow people to maintain or form relationships with other people, feel validated as a person by gaining the approval of their peers online, and from these two things gain a sense of belonging from these online communities. These factors taken from the article “Internet Communities, Identity, and Self-Affirmations” do their best to explain why people seek out online communities in general, not just on social media. People want to fit in, it is natural, and on social media you can now see how many people “like” what you do in your life and choose to share with them. These online relationships function to enhance relationships that exist offline. Friends can support each other socially online and publicly all the time instead of just in person out in the world. Online communities that form around hobbies validate everyone that shares that hobby and joins the site. In saying that, I mean to say that if I join a knitting site and see many other avid knitters all talking about knitting then my hobby seems more like a common, positive thing for me to partake in. All of these things are wonderful benefits of being able to publicly exist online, but just as being social in real life has its negatives, so too does being social online.
In general, people are freer with their thoughts, opinions, and ideas online. Walking down the sidewalk, someone could compliment you on your outfit or maybe give you a dirty look because of what you are wearing, but that will typically be the whole of the incident. Online, however, people take things like that a step further. Internet bullying is a major downside to online communities. People can directly insult others over the internet without much fear of any “real” consequences. It is much harder to be mean or rude to someone right in front of you than it is to a person online and possibly miles away from you. If someone does not like how I look in a picture then they may tell me and then all of my friends and their friends will see their opinion of how I look. An example of beauty being based upon what is seen online is discussed in the article “Facebook: The Encyclopedia of Beauty?” that we read. When people base some of their self-esteem on comments from people online about pictures or posts, then the rude or argumentative comments against the poster could cause them emotional harm. Nobody likes to have anything negative said toward something they like or enjoy and online it is a common thing to be insulted.
What online communities do you belong to (if you want to share)? Do you feel that they enhance your life and your relationships? Has belonging to an online community ever affected you in a negative way? Are online communities good or bad for society as a whole? Why?
— Ben Walker
Connected people with chat boxes picture from this article written by Avish Hakani
Social Media Picture from this website in the post by MLEE092
Cyber Bullying Dislike picture from this website and done by Samuel Flinn.