Facebook Itself

The Profile and Self

Facebook Friends

Social Networking

Activity and Passivity



















facebook and philosophy

Facebook and Philosophy

Ed. by D.E. Wittkower. Chicago & La Salle, IL. Open Court Publishing Company, 2010. 285 pp. ISBN 978-0-8126-9675-2.
A Review by Matt Bridgewater
Bowling Green State University
















Social Networking

The fourth section, “Social Networking: How to Win Virtual Friends and Influence Virtual People,” contains articles focusing on how Facebook virally connects people and the implications of these connections. Briggle’s open letter, “Dear Facebook,” is colorful in its tone, yet clear in its points. He takes a pessimistic look at how the promises of technology have not come to fruition, Facebook being no exception. He points out that Facebook is more about making a “‘culture industry,’ which churns out false needs and the semblance of freedom…, but appropriates everything into the process of consumption, which we are not free to choose not to participate in” (164). Facebook, therefore, makes a society less “convivial” (171) and generally reflects our current world order as opposed to restructuring it.

The other articles are not so pessimistic. Margaret A. Cuonzo’s “Gossip and the Evolution of Facebook” attempts to understand the nature of Facebook’s discourse as not trying to convey objective information necessarily, “but to form social bonds for mutual support” (174). Applying Gossip Theory here is very rich and has many implications for understanding language on the internet.

M. Deanya Lattimore's “Facebook as an Excess of Seeing” discusses weak-tie connections (connecting yourself to acquaintances and colleagues mostly) versus strong-tie connections (connecting yourself to close friends). This is important when combined with the idea of “framing,” which is what we do when we see and organize the world, and “then react based on those frames….Frame theory, then…, may help us all have some understanding for those whose Facebook use does not jibe with—or may even interfere with—our own” (189) use of Facebook.

Abrol Fairweather and Jodi Halpern’s “Do Status Updates Have Any Value?” applies the philosophy of Hume to understand how “Facebook is important to our moral life…because of the unique opportunity it presents to take us into the general sphere of human sentiment, removed from the localized interests of regular life” (195). They see “less hierarchical forms of communication than we find in person” (197) and this can help lead to a re-negotiation of how technology affects morality.

Finally, Michael V. Butera’s “Gatekeeper, Moderator, Synthesizer” explores how “The Status Update, as the moderator of the self, also allows for the construction of alternate identities to the ones we hold in other everyday situations” (207). Butera is interested in how “checks and balances” of the medium of Facebook create a community from potential cacophony.