Does arranging a Holiday Party require collective action?

Scott Kushner, in his article “Read Only: The persistence of lurking in Web 2.0,” discussed the idea that social media requires participation yet, in reality most social media users don’t participate. This non-participation online is referred to as lurking, which is that these people receive online communication but they are not contributing. This concept of non-participation reminded me of Rheingold’s discussion on “collective action” in the online world. Rheingold separates collective action into three categories: cooperation, coordination, and collaboration (p. 153).

Cooperation and Lurking

This idea of lurking from Kushner’s article I believe fits into the “cooperation” category of collective action that Rheingold discusses. Lurkers are social media participants, who use the applications and learn about what other people are doing, celebrating, and posting but who do not leave a trace that they have seen the content. Think of Facebook for a moment, on my account I have 1,000+ “friends” who I am connected with via the app. These friends are posting status updates throughout the week, yet when I am scrolling through the app I only engage with content from some of my closest friends, which is probably around 5% of the content I see on my feed. In this example, I am cooperating with the online world, but I an not coordinating or collaborating in it. This goes both ways, for example in the last status update I posted on Facebook I had 145 people engage with it, of my 1,080 friends that is only 13% of my connections.

Coordination and Collaboration

I think that Rheingold’s concept of coordination and collaboration in the online world play into each other a bit. Back to my Facebook example, coordination comes into play in various parts of the application but especially in the Events sections of the application. Facebook makes it easier than ever to coordinate an event with your friends. Every year over the holidays I host a Christmas Party in my hometown for all of my high school friends, and each year I organize this party through a Facebook event. I enter the description, invite all of my friends, enter in the time and location, and boom – the invitation is sent. From there, my friends are able to RSVP (yes, no, maybe) and comment on the event page. Each year, on the event page, the first post (from me) is a poll that reads: What day is everyone available? Day with the most votes will be the party date. My friends can vote on the poll for when they’re available, and I look a few days later to select the final date. This event tool is incredibly helpful is helping coordinate with my network. If there is a location change or time change, I update the event and all attendees are notified.

Mosinee Christmas_Use

Photo from a Facebook event I hosted in 2016.

Although I think this example fits most strongly into the coordination bucket, I think there is Rheingold’s concept of collaboration at play too. Although it is limited to a small group of people, everyone is collaborating when they are completing the poll that is available in the group. As everyone participates in the poll, it becomes clear what day of the week works best for everyone and their collective answers help me make that decision.

Whether you’re lurking, cooperating, coordinator or collaborating online, you’re still participating. I haven’t run into a friend who doesn’t have a Facebook account where I need to go offline to talk to them about the Christmas Party, my friend group knows to expect this invitation as the holidays are approaching. I wonder if there will ever be a time where mass groups of people will stop tuning into social media; stop participating all together. If so, I hope there is another tool I can use to coordinate this event as easily as I currently do. So is this a from of collective action according to Rheingold, I would argue yes. In this particular example, there are very few individuals who are lurking as it’s encouraging group participation and most of the group is engaging with the event invite. 

Posted on October 12, 2018, in Digital, mobile, Social Media, Technology. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi Brittney,

    Great post this week. I think you chose a very intriguing topic and one that involves a participatory culture, while simultaneously offering users the chance to visually scroll through what’s going but not having to contribute to the conversation. Further, this idea of an individual with 1,000 friends, but only choosing to interact with those they are closest with I think depicts this reality of social media to a “t.” Do you feel that on social media you tailor certain content in a particular way or share more of your personal life on one platform over the other? I think this is an interesting tie to the types of content people choose to share in correlation with how many friends or who your friends may be on this platform.

    I think your examples and information regarding lurking and collaborating are spot on this week, great job!

    – Kim

  2. Kim,

    I do that I tailor content differently on different platforms. It’s particularly clear between Facebook and Instagram where I use both to share life updates and photos. I think a lot more about what I’m posting on Instagram, what filters I’m using and how my quote is phrased as to keep it somewhat similar with my overall feed. Whereas on Facebook, I post less specifically curated content. It’s more of just posting the update so that my family and close friend can see what I’m up to, and not filtering the images as much.

    I think that it’s really interesting the way people share content across platforms. I wonder if anyone has done a study to see if how users curate their content. It would be interesting to see if I’m in the norm with my highly curated Instagram content, or if it’s not a widespread phenomenon.

    Thanks,
    Brittney

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