It all started few days ago when I read at IT Serbian forum a story on case of the fake digital identity and image(s) of super blond young female who represented herself as cute little blondie, that blogs, twitts, has Facebook profile, dropping university for the sake of modelling etc, etc. In the meantime, she/he was advertising all huge biz enterprises in Serbia on the blog and when IT people and geeks revealed the identity as fake one, she/he confessed about this behaviour as ‘transition period’ as she/he is moving to work for one/new Serbian social networking site (advertising again). Hideous saga went through forums and other online media, but what is left behind is hundreds of male population in Serbia dreaming of her character and the image he (her inventor) created.
With little effort everyone can be anyone on Web. Nothing new is happening, as in offline world. Even real people, adults, have impression management issues in social networking sites evaluated in social contexts. Here, we have example of sweet little blond: in Serbia social context it is the model of neo turbo-folk culture where fake (layout: hair, eye color, pumped lips, implants everywhere, fake complexion, fake smile, gestures) and glittered are highly-rated as trendy and ‘in’ which teens blindly follow. Having that in mind, it’s not difficult to create such digital ID, being presented also at Facebook (“oh, you have only eleven photos, where is the twelfth, i thought you were posing for the Calender?” – as one of the adult Serbian male commented). This issue also deserves and needs to go deeper into psychological analysis of human behaviour and social dynamics in this particular context where female/human is not respected or because of the false prejudices and bad jokes on females with blond hair.
So, yesterday we had Facebook inner circle messge discussion (among few friends who are familiar with the case) , interactive thread on fake identities, misuse of female image in marketing purposes, impression management issues and friending: fake or real? One of the IT managers commented that sometimes, in this case, it is better to have real virtual friends than fake friends in the real life, where the others agreed with him stating that they know many of online people from the city, communicating through other mediums (mobiles, IM’s) and that is even better if/when virtual friend becomes a friend in real life (lot of examples on this variation). One of my friend and colleague who was (and still) for long time at Myspace (MS addict) and moved to Facebook confessed that at first was sceptical and didn’t think at all to join this SNS, but after awhile he finds FB more serious social network with more options for networking with people.
As we can perceive, social processes provide individuals with contextual frame through which they can properly socialize with other participants. All computer-mediated communication sites have the feature that allows participants to articulate and publicly display their relations to others in the system which makes chain of the friendship. We all agreed on that, most of us though, that social network sites are not digital spaces disconnected from other social venues. As the outcome from the last night discussion: today’s meeting in the real world with regional editor in chief of PC Press magazine, just few hours after our virtual talk with other participants on this issue.
It is interesting to mention here, in one of her talks earlier, danah boyd observed that participants must negotiate when being on social network sites thought four key rolls: persistence, searchability, replicability, and invisible audiences.These elements help participants to structure context but they also make it more difficult to manage collapsed contexts. This is exactly what have happened in this case and the previously described cases (posts) in virtual communication in the local venue. Also, regarding the latest NewYork Times article, researchers from Harvard and the University of California, Los Angeles, came to conclusion that while “people perceive someone who has a high number of friends as popular, attractive and self-confident, people who accumulate “too many” friends (about 800 or more) are seen as insecure.”
re-evaluate your real/fake online/offline friends.