Simon Fowler's Blog

rLiving Day 6: facebook Nation (Purpose)

Posted by Simon on May 6, 2010

Is Social Media a fad? Is facebook a nation?

Social Media Revolution 2, the new video by Socialnomics says No to the first, and implies Yes to the second. The first video, uploaded in July 2009, received over 1.8million hits. I’m viewer 534 of the new one so I feel, like, way cool and on the cutting edge (but actually I’m just following Marcia Conner who’s the one on the cutting edge!)

Is Social Media a fad? Well, no. Given the numbers in these great videos, it’d be like asking if the automobile is a fad. And facebook is usually the prime example of the nonfadness of social media.

This statistic may be true in terms of numbers, but the comparison with countries is a category mistake. facebook isn’t a country or nation. [I know it’s a comparison just made for effect but I’m still going to exploit it for my own purposes!]

Relational Proximity Dimension #5 is Purpose/Commonality: Our sense of connectedness and relationship is greater to the degree we have things in common or share a common purpose or identity. A good relationship has a direction to it, something that is common between the members that holds it together.

facebook is ‘simply’ a tool, an affordance for connecting people with each other. But by itself, it’s just a computer network. It’s the connections between people that matter. And those connections are rooted in either identity (Red Sox!), commonality (city, college, Captain Sully) or purpose (Protest facebook’s privacy changes!!). ‘facebook’ doesn’t have any of those elements.

But in case you needed convincing not to think that facebook is actually something to form an identity around, consider this excellent quote that my friend Dana (male) left in a comment on yesterday’s post. The quote was from Ernest Renan’s famous speech attempting to respond to the question, “What is a nation?”

“A nation,” said Renan, “is a large-scale solidarity, constituted by the feeling of the sacrifices that one has made in the past and of those that one is prepared to make in the future. It presupposes a past; it is summarized, however, in the present by a tangible fact, namely, consent, the clearly expressed desire to continue a common life. A nation’s existence is, if you will pardon the metaphor, a daily plebiscite, just as an individual’s existence is a perpetual affirmation of life.”

What is your common life? What is the identity or purpose that maintains and feeds your relationships?

Is social media a fad? Watch this:


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