Breeding adaptations in the world of facebook

by Sebastian Benthall

Commenters skb and Matt Cooperrider have asked for an example that justifies my claim in “Social Killer App” that “My generation has done back flips to meet the socialware demands of Facebook.” An example came up in a conversation i overheard on the subway yesterday.

Two women, apparently close friends, were discussing a man whom one had been involved with. This was a complicated relationship; it had been long distance for some time, and now they were closer together, but still he did not seem to have the time for her that she expected from him. Her mother had suggested that perhaps she was not the only woman in the man’s life, but there was no real evidence for that. He had told her that she deserves better, but still expressed interest in her.

“So what do you want?” asked the patient friend.

“Well,” said the other, “I guess what I want is…. Well, when I changed my Relationship Status [on Facebook], I took off that I was single. I didn’t say I was in any relationship or anything, but I’m not single. I’m committed to seeing where this thing goes. And I wish that he would do the same.”

Without being too glib in reading into this example, I think it demonstrates how today even very personal and subtle social relations get reified in social network technology, and how there is an admittedly heterogenous social expectation that one use those technologies in meaningful ways.