Ethnographic: A Teenage Girl’s Facebook Friend List

Facebook friends list template

“The following event is real but the names have been changed to protect the innocent”

While some of us struggle to manage our online relationships, no one does it better than teenage girls who spend a lot of their online time on social networking sites. They’ve learned to micro-manage their lives with the level of detail certified accountants do with internal audits.

Always interested in how the experts do it, I got a chance to sit through a demo of how 18 year old Sarah sorts her Facebook friends. From using the limited profile feature to reduce exposure to specific colleagues, bosses or creeps (real-life creeps on the rise?), to using the Friend List feature in an extensive way to delineate clusters of relationships (as shown above).

Sarah does represent a heavy Facebook user, blogging via Facebook notes, picky with her Facebook apps, but a deep user of the platform nonetheless. She explores and utilizes every aspect of the social networking service until she has it is sufficiently under her control.

When asked of what she thought about Facebook Chat, she disliked it saying how it just makes it “too creepy”. She currently prefers bantering with friends via Wall-to-Wall, perhaps something to do with anticipation, surprise and reduced attention it requires compared to a live conversation. Sharing her sentiment, we compared the number of Facebook friends reported online through her Online Friends page with the number reported in the Facebook Chat feature, and discovered that a majority of her friends have indeed turned off their chat status entirely.

For the rest of us, maintaining our online relationships can be a lot of work, especially if you use Facebook sparingly just to maintain presence. If you want some basics on maintaining privacy on Facebook (or to help your child’s manage his / her online presence), this video tutorial gives a good demo of how to go about it. Just excuse the heavy British Aussie accent. ;)

  • http://jayjay.isbetterthanyou.org JayJay

    That harks back to LJ and their introduction to filters and “friends only” posts – which caused major dramaz when I was a teenage girl. Getting the filters mixed up – people finding out they were lumped into a “bad guy” list – oh, how you wish you could do that in the offline world! ;)

    And I have to say, that bloke is Australian – the UK English accent is more whiny (I’m Scottish, so I have free reign as I get my accent mocked all the time…) ;)

    - Jay Jay

    JayJay’s last blog post..Twitter – the backlash!

  • http://theory.isthereason.com Kevin

    JayJay, that’s right! LiveJournal also had similar privacy features and was one of the first few blogging platforms which had it. Thanks for pointing out the Aussie accent. Oh, and we’ll forever be teenagers… it’s all in the head. ;)