Commentary

Digital Cliquing

  • by , May 23, 2008

Earlier this week I received an invite to be part of a blog for a small group of friends who just graduated. We all log in under the same username and password to post our latest personal update and view our friends' posts.

Essentially, it's our own chat room that never logs off and allows us to keep in touch as we scatter about the country. Yet, after my initial appreciation for this convenience, I started worrying that other friends would stumble upon it. Would they be upset that they were not be included? Then again maybe I'm just too self-righteous to think that they would even want to be a part of this blogging group.

The myth that cliques end when you leave high school has been busted by us all. We know that there are cliques in college, at work...everywhere. However, in-groups and out-groups now have penetrated our lives through the digital world. In addition to the groups and organizations you can join, Facebook has means of ranking your friends, comparing characteristics of your friends, and listing your "Top Friends" or "Entourage." Our means of flattering and insulting, including and excluding people have become more advanced - not to mention more public. At least here I have the means of checking where I stand with certain people and groups. Am I in the in-crowd? I don't know. Let me check my rankings...

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Point of clarification: I do not think that forming groups is inherently bad. It's natural, and just goes to show that our need for belonging transgresses age. Moreover, I don't think everyone who has "Top Friends" does it in order to be exclusive. The true question lies in our intent in forming specific groups. I believe that my intent in being a part of this group blogging page is not simply so I feel like I'm part of an in-group, but rather that I anticipate a means for maintaining communication with friends. As for the purpose of ranking and comparing people in such a public social network like Facebook? Intent in these cases is a little harder to distinguish.

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