I spent nearly eight months of my life researching and writing my master’s thesis on Facebook and identity, and now it has *finally* been posted online by Georgetown. Hooray! I know some of my fellow students would rather forget their theses now that they’ve graduated, but since I will be continuing this research (at least related research) for the next four to five years at Michigan State, I am happy to share my work with the world, especially since I am truly proud of the final project.
For those not familiar with my research, my thesis considered the evolving role of social networking sites in transforming users’ methods of communication with various members of their social network. I conducted a survey of 600+ Georgetown University undergraduates to try and get to the heart of why they use sites like Facebook and how social networking sites have changed the ways in which they form and maintain relationships.
The thesis can be accessed here.
And here is the full abstract to whet your appetite.
We live in an increasingly networked world. We are connected to each other through numerous types of ties, with social networking sites offering one of the most popular methods people currently employ to link themselves together. But do “old-fashioned” ways of developing and maintaining relationships suffer from the evolution of computer-mediated communication? Have we become too reliant on the instantaneous, answer-producing quality of the internet that can reveal others’ most intimate personal details before we even introduce ourselves?
This thesis examines social relationships online to see how they differ from traditional offline relationships, focusing on how people create an online identity and how that identity affects the formation and maintenance of “friendships” in the digital world. The thesis will then consider how the social networking site Facebook impacts relationships in the real world. This analysis will be based on a survey of 644 Georgetown University undergraduates regarding their uses of various technologies to interact with different members of their social networks, and especially their use of Facebook to form and maintain relationships.