Introduction to Facelife

With so many individuals in analog reality experiencing existence through the veil of digital interaction, the question has been asked as to how social networking sites such as Facebook are altering interpersonal relationships, modes of interaction, and the sheer lengths to which individuals are willing to go in any given situation? To examine this question farther, our method of research will be to transpose the social frame of Facebook onto reality as closely as is possible through analog means. Our hypothesis is that behaving as if one were on Facebook in live settings will be seen as “socially awkward,” “surreal,” or “bizarre” to onlookers, particularly because such actions break the social frame of both live and digital interaction.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Our proposed method of research is to create an analog version of Facebook via a five step process of interaction. These will all, of course, be manipulated variables executed by group members without the knowledge of our interlocutors.

The first step of interaction is to formally request friendship from the interlocutor in question by using the exact phrase “will you be my friend?” Data will then be collected based on three probable outcomes to this question: yes, no, or other. The other category will contain in-direct responses to the question. Answers such as “I don’t know,” “will you be my friend? ,” or “for what reason?” will all be considered other for the purposes of our experiment.

The second step will then be to formally request a picture of the interlocutor with the exact phrase of “can I take your picture?” Responses will be categorized as yes, no, or other as with step one. Our group is anticipating a number of obvious other responses from the interlocutor in this instance. Questions such as “why?” and “what will you be using it for?” must be answered using the exact neutral phrases of “because we are friends now,” and “because I have pictures of all of my friends” respectively. Any other responses will categorized as falling into the other category.

The third step is then to offer the interlocutor a sticker via the phrase “can I give you some flair?” Responses here are labeled either yes or no, as there are no other variables to consider because only the action of acceptance or denial of the sticker is important here. 1

The fourth step is to then invite the interlocutor to a staged event. Responses are to fall into categories of yes, no, or other. As with step two, anticipated other responses are to be answered with specific responses. To the question of “what is the event for?” the group member must reply “it is a get-together with all of my friends.” Dates and times will be given to the interlocutor as necessary. 2

The fifth step is to greet our friends at the event reception. 1 Data will be logged as to how many friends were invited to the event and how many actually showed up. At this point the experiment ends, and all participants are debriefed. 4

There are a number of rules applicable to each step. If the interlocutor at any time answers with a series of two other responses, the experiment must end and all collected data must be logged. All no responses result in an instant ending of the experiment as well. All yes answers will result in the group member proceeding to the next step with the interlocutor.

Each group member is expected to interact with at least ten interlocutors over a period of four days. This will result in a data pool of 60 students. Exact data must be collected as to the number of yes, no, and other responses. This data will then subsequently be used in a number of graphs pictorially detailing the “success” rate of such an approach to social interaction. A “successful” interaction is considered a full completion of all five steps. 1

As with any sociological experiment, manipulated, responding, and constant variables are all taken into account. The manipulated variable must be considered to be the broken social frame of interaction. The responding variable is the interlocutor’s response to these actions. The constant variables are the steps of interaction, the anticipated responses, and the general rules of interaction. 1

The number of yes answers to each step out of 60 will depict how successful an approach to interaction based on the rules of Facebook is. A success rate of half or more will be considered adequate to disprove our hypothesis. It is likely that larger numbers will be seen among the early steps of the process, with a tapering success rate among the later steps. 2

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