Is Facebook the new village square?
I’ve been writing a lot lately on Facebook, sharing the results of a recent study conducted by ConsumerLab looking at the behavior of Swedish teenagers. In the next installment of my Facebook posts, I explain how the platform is just as important to social life today as the village square was in the past.
According to the results of our study, being on Facebook is an important part of social interaction. Not being on Facebook today means running a risk of not being in the social loop or missing out on invites to parties or other important events. Facebook has become the key hub for both social life and media consumption.
The life that takes place on Facebook is in many ways reminiscent of life in a country village. It is characterized by a number of repetitive rituals that take place at certain times throughout the day and that help connect the user to the greater community. Every morning the newsfeed is scanned in order to establish how everyone is doing and exchange a few pleasantries.
The ritual of crossing the village square
The “checking Facebook” ritual which takes place several times throughout the day is essentially very much the same as crossing a village square, exchanging greetings and pleasantries. It is a way to check how people are doing, what they are talking about and how they are feeling. Facebook makes it possible to receive an immediate update on important personal events and which news stories that people are currently discussing.
As more of our social activities move from the physical realm to the online space, it will be interesting to see how our personal relationships develop along the way.