An online or virtual community is the gathering of people, in an online "space" where they come, communicate, connect, and get to know each other better over time. Social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook have become increasingly popular online communities exploited by internet users around the world. With an average of 270 million members, Facebook allows users “to present themselves, articulate their social networks, and establish or maintain connections with others” (Ellison, 1). My freshmen year of college I joined Facebook to stay in touch with my highschool friends and to generate new relationships with my new colleagues. However many people believe otherwise and fail to see the value these social networking sites have to offer. In this assignment I will analyze the theory of social capital and determine whether or not people’s attitudes toward Facebook parallel their use of this particular social networking site.
As Ellison explains, the internet facilitates new connections, in that it provides people with an alternative way to connect with others who share their interests or relational goals. Through these new connections an increase in social capital may result. My first interviewee represents one member who has exponentially benefited from her strategical, daily use of Facebook. My mom, in fact admits her addiction to being an intense Facebook exploiter. Spending upwards to 2 hours daily online, my mom is constantly logging in and out multiple times a day to converse with coworkers, friends and family. As she explains, “it gives more leverage and allows me to reach out to my agents who spend little time in the office. I can add clips and write updates to keep them informed on what is happening in the company. However, I am not just communicating to thin air, I am communicating with people that want to be communicated with, so it’s an opt in for me!” My mom has only been a member since December and has over 700 friends already....
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