Are we all equally at home socializing online? Cyberasociality and evidence for an unequal distribution of disdain for digitally-mediated sociality

Zeynep Tufekci, Matthew E. Brashears

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Online social media are an increasingly important arena of social interaction. This rapid transition to digitally mediated sociality is far from trivial in both the consequences it engenders and the tensions it generates. In this paper, we find that some people do not take as readily to accepting digitally mediated sociality as others, and that this mode of connectivity appears fulfilling and engaging to some while it appears hollow and vacant to others due to variations in a personality disposition which we dub 'cyberasociality' which was defined as the inability or unwillingness of some people to relate to others via social media as they do when physically present by Tufekci [2010. Who acquires friends through social media and why? Rich get richer versus seek and ye shall find. Proceedings of the fourth international conference on weblogs and social media, Washington, DC]. Using two purposive samples of college students (n = 410 and n = 417 completed surveys), we develop a scale to test cyberasociality as a construct. We show that cyberasociality is neither a mere reflection of offline sociability nor a proxy for other well-studied traits such as extraversion or neuroticism, nor a simple reflection of Internet experience or cohort effects. We find that cyberasociality impacts how people use digital social tools more than whether they use them, and that the cyberasocial are less likely to use platforms for digitally mediated social interaction to broaden their social networks or to forge new social ties online while they are equally likely to use digital channels for utilitarian purposes such as coordinating plans or finding out about class assignments. Such differences in dispositions toward online sociality hint toward new wrinkles, advantages and disadvantages for consequences of variations in Internet use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-502
Number of pages17
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences

Keywords

  • Internet use
  • Social media
  • isolation
  • new media
  • social networks

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