This is the concept paper for my Anthro 225 class. And yes, I’m a Facebook addict. 😛
In the light of the proliferation of a number of online social networking tools, the researcher would like to look at how these sites improve the relationships between co-workers. These sites were originally intended to allow users to reconnect with friends or relatives who are abroad or have been out of touch. These sites have also allowed users to broaden their social networks by connecting with casual acquaintances and even strangers. But how about the relationship of those in the workplace, those who see each other everyday and maintain professional relationships with each other? Do social networking sites really improve the relationship on a personal level?
Because of several activities one can participate in while logged in to a networking site, the function of these sites have also evolved. No longer is it just a tool for asserting one’s popularity (the more friends, the more popular you are) or for communicating with long lost friends, these sites have become communities wherein one has to do his or her share of work. Facebook, for example, has an application called Fluff Friends where you can adopt a virtual pet. To earn ‘munny’ (virtual money) to buy food, you have to pet your friends’ pets. In another application called My Christmas Tree, you can send and wrap gifts for your friends’ Christmas trees, sort of an online version of exchanging gifts.
The researcher’s hypothesis is that there is a significant improvement in the relationship between co-workers who are ‘Friendsters’ or ‘Ka-Facebook.’ In my own workplace, I have noticed how this worked. Co-workers who don’t usually talk about things apart from work have shared experiences while feeding a pet or virtual shopping.
Employers may squirm at the fact that their employees use their free time by logging on to these sites but this may actually prove to be even more beneficial to them since anyone would agree that a pleasant working environment gives one more initiative to go to work everyday.