Last semester, I submitted a paper for my Conflict Resolution class in which I particularly focused on the Change Management part of the syllabus. It was an overview of Social Network Analysis (SNA) as an empirical tool in change management. Well, just to describe SNA, it’s a fusion of psychology, sociology, and mathematics, wherein SNA software can measure the interpersonal relations of the organization at the informal level, draw a graph of these relations, and help the organization identify the real power source of the organization. Simply put, SNA assumes that power and influence does not belong to the boss but to the informal leader: the person whose friendship and opinion is valued by the majority, the “sociometric star,” as Jacob Moreno calls it. I wrote that
“At the organizational level, identifying informal networks and determining the types and strength of existing relationships would inevitably lead to the detection of the legitimate change agent. Perhaps, empowering the sociometric star to function as a linking pin would intensify Likert and Likert’s concept of interaction-influence network and improve organizational effectiveness in general.”
Now, before I bore you with academic writing, let me proceed with my blog and tell you that I’ve created a Facebook account (but call it “fb;” otherwise, you’d be tagged as newbie) and somehow managed to get addicted to it. Although majority of fb users are non-Filipino, most of them tell me one thing: fb is addicting. I started monitoring my Internet logs and realized “Shoot. I’ve more-than-doubled my regular Internet indulgence” –not just in frequency (number of times I log in to fb) but in duration as well (number of hours I spend online).
Because this really disturbed me, I started asking friends, who also have fb accounts, WHY IS fb ADDICTING? After all, Friendster has increased its photo limit, improved its blog base, and added applications, which made fb a unique online social network in the first place (The culprit, by the way, is Mark Elliot Zuckerberg; he created Facebook and became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire at 24).
Then it hit me. Facebook takes online social networks to the extreme. Not only can you guess at your sociometric star quality via Social Profile and Superlatives. You may “suggest” friendship between people, give a margarita to a friend, and drop an elephant on another. It allows you to “eavesdrop,” because it tracks everything you do and say to friends. Let’s say A and B are friends, and B and C are also friends. Although A is not a friend of C, A can see what’s going on in C’s life (even when C sets his/her account to “private”) whenever B leaves a comment on C, which gets published in B’s “news feed.” If you guessed that this sounds like trouble, then your guess is as good as mine. I’ve had friends delete their accounts or delete some friends off their list because of some conflict arising from fb. I must say that, at one point—okay more than once, I got a bit affected by this same conflict, although I wouldn’t tell you what happened–in fairness to the other persons involved.
Weird? No. There’s nothing wrong with fb, because it DID say that it is a social network. It did not say that it IS a social network for friends only. A social network exists between enemies as well. I’ve had friends on fb (where else?) tell me that fb is a venue for us to gloat over those who’ve stepped on our toes. It makes sense. It’s saying, “Hello, Cheerleader! You broke my heart in high school, because I wore ugly braces and corduroy trousers. But look at me now! I’m Mr. ABC (I’m now known by initials, see) with a kick-ass car and weekends in Oahu.” Or, let’s say you’ve been a wallflower all your life and on your 25th birthday, your pimples finally decided to take a retirement. All of a sudden your face is everywhere on fb, in a not-so-silent scream to vindicate you of aesthetic injustice in the past. What a validation!
Ergo, my hypothesis: fb is addicting, because each one of us has a need for validation in one way or another. Don’t hate me yet; I admit that I’d been there. And while you may indignantly argue against it, you would blog about how you don’t need validation, and that, my friend, is a validation in itself. Now, if you took all this time to read my lengthy blog about something so mundane and trivial, then it means that you and I share an affinity for understanding the vague. If you feel like doing your own little experiment, log in to Facebook.com. You won’t be disappointed.