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The personal life of Facebook: managing friendships with social media

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How are social media used to manage personal and intimate relations, in particular, friendships? Can these interactions be better understood through the dynamics of personal life? This article aims to answer these questions through the lens of personal life, together with concepts such as relationality, memory, biography and imaginary. Drawing on qualitative data from 30 in-depth interviews, in which Portuguese men and women were invited to describe their personal communities, it explores how relationships with friends are managed with the help of Facebook. Findings show, on a first level, many commonalities with what has been reported in the literature about social media uses, namely, the importance of social and interactional contexts in understanding the relationship between people and the media. However, a deeper level of analysis reveals that these Facebook interactions are also rooted in important features of contemporary personal life, such as an imperative of a relational continuum, [i.e.], a norm that pushes individuals to be in permanent relationships with others, with social media and social networking sites (SNS) providing up-to-date technological affordances to make that possible.
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Keywords: Facebook; friendship; mediated intimacy; personal life; social media

Affiliations: University of Lisbon, Portugal

Appeared or available online: August 3, 2018

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