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ASIST '13 annual meeting: Interpersonal conflicts on Facebook

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This was presented at ASIST '13 annual meeting (Montreal, Canada). Please contact me if you are interested in this paper.

This was presented at ASIST '13 annual meeting (Montreal, Canada). Please contact me if you are interested in this paper.


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  • 1. The  Show  Must  Go  On:   The  Presentation  of  Self   during  Interpersonal  Conflict  on  Facebook Jinyoung  Kim  and  June  Ahn College  of  Information  Studies University  of  Maryland,  College  Park Monday, November 4, 13
  • 2. Monday, November 4, 13
  • 3. Conflicts  happens Image  source:  Google  ‘Facebook  fights’ Monday, November 4, 13
  • 4. Conflicts 1)  Manifest  :  the  state  of  heated  argument,  clashes,  and  insulting  that  develops   behavioral  and  affective  states 2)  Latent:  the  state  of  perceiving  different  goals  and  intentions  of  counterparts (Dahrendorf, 1958) Monday, November 4, 13
  • 5. Conceptual  Framework:  Dramaturgy Everyday  life  is  a  performance. In  the  presence  of  others,  a  person  tries  to  give  information  about  self  in   accordance  with  his/her  intention.   An  audience  is  supposed  to  watch  and  be  persuaded  by  the  performance. Backstage  is  a  private  region  where  actors  keep  the  vital  secrets  of  the   performance  and  refine  themselves. (Goffman, 1959) Monday, November 4, 13
  • 6. On  Facebook, Visibility  and  relationship  with  an  audience   encourage  users  to  selectively  disclose  information  to  deliver  an  ideal  self-­‐image   while  not  creating  conflicts  with  an  audience. Despite  users’  efforts  to  avoid  engaging  in  socially  unattractive  situations,   30%  of  adults  experience  conflicts  in  SNSs. (Rainie et al., 2012) People  from  diverse  contexts  are  present  at  the  same  place,   and  this  context  collapse  might  affect  users’  perceptions  and  behaviors   when  encountering  conflicts  on  Facebook. Monday, November 4, 13
  • 7. Research  Question RQ1.  When  do  individuals  experience  conflicts  on  Facebook?   RQ2.  What  are  the  individuals’  thought  processes  in  perceiving  and   dealing  with  conflicts?   Monday, November 4, 13
  • 8. Methodology • An  interview  method • 6  college  and  10  graduate  students   • Questions  include:   What  are  the  purpose  of  your  using  Facebook? What  are  the  episode  of  conflicts? If  the  conflict  was  resolved,  were  you  satisfied  with  the  way  how  it  was  resolved? • Themes  and  Findings  were  linked  into  conceptual  framework   Monday, November 4, 13
  • 9. Findings RQ1.  When  do  individuals  experience  conflicts  on  Facebook?   Controversial  topics  -­‐  Religion  &  Politics Political  discussion?   Asynchronous  interactions  allowed  interviewees  to  back  off  from  intense   discussion  and  to  gather  backup  information  for  their  argument. Monday, November 4, 13
  • 10. Findings RQ1.  When  do  individuals  experience  conflicts  on  Facebook?   Interviewees  often  experienced  conflicts  when  confronted  with   inappropriate  manners  in  online  conversation. How  appropriate  is  appropriate? Each  user  had  a  different  level  of  tolerance  toward  the  same  posting Monday, November 4, 13
  • 11. Findings RQ2.  What  are  the  individuals’  thought  processes  in  perceiving  and   dealing  with  conflicts?   The  brave,  the  careful,  and  the  inconsistent   “It’s  really  fun  to  be  the  devil’s   advocate  and  say  something  like   [different  from  friends’  opinions].   I  have  a  lot  of  liberal  friends,  and   I  have  a  lot  of  conservative  friends,   and  so,  it’s  always  very  funny.   When  you  start  to  comment,  they   all  get  it  on  it.  It’s  just  very   interesting.”  (Mark,  graduate) Monday, November 4, 13 “I  feel  like  I  tried  to  be  more   neutral  about  stuff  on  Facebook   'cause  I  don’t  really  want  someone   getting  mad  at  me  on  whatever   something   I  post.”  (Jamie,  freshman) “I  wrote  it  to  make  people  to  think,   ‘what  is  he  writing?’  because  I  don’t   tend  to  write  much  [on  Facebook].   So  if  I  write  something,  it  might   spark  [questions].  Somebody  might   go  like  ‘what  are  you  writing?’   and  it  gives  me  the  opportunity  like   ‘oh,  this  is  what’s  happening  in  my   country.”  (Dave,  graduate)
  • 12. Findings RQ2.  What  are  the  individuals’  thought  processes  in  perceiving  and   dealing  with  conflicts?   Shills  or  informants:  Conflicts  with  close  friends “I  had  a  good  friend  who  I  was  a  friend  of  in  high   school.  He  made  this  comment  on  Facebook  about   [a  social  issue].  And  he  was  kind  of  citing  like   [positions  on  the  topic].  And  he,  I  don’t  know,  his   viewpoint  surprised  me  a  lot.  Cause  I  thought  I   knew  him?  But  apparently,  this  is  very  extreme   point  of  view  in  my  opinion?  So  I  started  arguing   him  about  like,  you  know...”  (Justin,  graduate) Monday, November 4, 13 “I  think,  if  they  [his  friends]  were  being  attacked,  and   I  agreed  with  the  person  attacking  them  but  I  didn’t   know  them,  a  strange  scenario.  I,  still  would  be   stepping  inside  and  ‘okay,  you  might  think  that,  but   don’t  be  rude  about  it,  don’t  attack  them.’  Even  if  I   don’t  agree  with  my  friend,  I  still  want  my  friends  not   to  be  attacked.”  (Chris,  junior)
  • 13. Findings RQ2.  What  are  the  individuals’  thought  processes  in  perceiving  and   dealing  with  conflicts?   Coping  mechanism:  backstage  processes  for  deciding  on  further  performances “They  are  still  friends  in  real  life.   They  just  blocked  each  other  on   Facebook,  so  they  don’t  need  to   deal  with  each  other’s  political   [opinion].”  (Steve,  graduate) Monday, November 4, 13 but  everyone  responses  like  ‘you   never  gonna  make  Mark  mad,  you   never  gonna  do  it,  it’s  not  gonna   happened’.    Cause  most,  I  think   most  of  the  people  understand   that  I’m  not  gonna  get  like…  mad.   So  I  mean,  I  look  at  getting  mad   someone  has  like…I  don’t  want   people  to  know  they’re  gotten  to   me?  So  I’ll  just,  I’ll  just  suppress  it?   (Mark,  graduate) “Of  course,  I  didn’t  want  to  solve   the  problem  and  have  the  entire   Facebook  read  [by  others].  That   makes  no  sense.  So  I  emailed  my   friend,  I  messaged  him,  but  actually,   since  I  couldn’t  find  it  [his  number],  I   wrote  him  an  email...  I  had  to   manage  the  situation   offline.”  (Dave,  graduate)
  • 14. Discussion Facebook  generally  is  not  a  platform  for  outward  conflict. But,  the  brave,  the  careful,  and  the  inconsistent  are  connected  to  each  other   on  Facebook.   Actors  manage  their  walls  in  accordance  with  their  ideal-­‐self  by  sterilizing   information  for  their  front-­‐stage  performances  on  Facebook. Once  conflicts  occurred,  actors  were  careful  to  resolve  the  conflicts,  reassure   the  validity  of  previous  performances  to  audiences,  and  stop  further   disruptive  interactions.   Monday, November 4, 13
  • 15. Limitations  &  Future  studies Limitations   •  Modest  sample  size   •  Homogeneous  group Future  studies •Conflicts  of  users  in  a  different  life  stage •  Conflicts  on  Different  type  of  SNSs Monday, November 4, 13
  • 16. Thank  you.   Questions  or  Comments? jkim0204@umd.edu Monday, November 4, 13