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Jeff Bryant 9/20/08 Anthropology 204 Facebook Facebook success is due to the way it fits into the lives of young Americans. In American culture as young men and women grow they form stronger bonds with friends, tend to distance themselves from their family, and have a change in values as the young Americans search for identity and a place of belonging. Facebook’s appeal to young people is it not only gives a perfect places were these bonds with friends can be made, but is gives them a place to find themselves. The first level is the environment. They are living in a turbulent time friends and locations are changing. The environment of facebook is an obvious place where young people can find themselves. They can build relationships, and find a group of people just like themselves. Through facebook they can build themselves into whoever they want. The way that facebook allow communication really gives these young Americans a place where they can feel at home. In a sense, with facebook you can create your own environment. This environment still is not safe from the attacks of other young Americans, but it is an environment of their own. The infrastructure of facebook is mostly based on mass media. Through the use of facebook any form of information can be spread very rapidly. Looking at the behavior of young Americans, and you can see how the infrastructure of facebook appeals to them. Young Americans are almost obsessed with gossip. The problem used to be how slow this “news” would spread. Young Americans were the group that really took off with the cell phone idea. At the same time similar improvements were occurring with the internet such as instant messenger and xanga. Both of these developments were mostly used by young Americans for gossip related applications. Looking at facebook you see all the tools necessary for a young person to spread gossip over a wide audience as fast as possible. When facebook is looked at from the social structure level of the barrel model it is evident that facebook itself has become its own social structure. Every person on facebook has their own family, and friends, but within facebook they have completely different social structure. With the searching for identity that young Americans go through, at this time, this new social structure is eagerly accepted. Even those these separate worlds do share some things in common they are not at all the same. The real world’s social structure is based on who the people are, how they live, and what they do. The facebook social structure is based on their history, what’s on their wall, their status, and their profile, not on the real person. The superstructure of facebook is similar to the social structure in that by having facebook, even though a person may believe they have the same beliefs as they do in real life, due to the lack of information that they can put on their facebook their values might come off differently. For some people this is an advantage of facebook, this way a person can seem overly aggressive on one issue on facebook while in real life they don’t speak out on this issue or vise versa. The way that facebook fits so tightly within the natural culture of young Americans is incredible; this tight connection in all these areas explains the facebook phenomenon.
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