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Future Internet 2012, 4(4), 955-970; doi:10.3390/fi4040955

Social Media and Experiential Ambivalence

Department of Sociology, Texas A&M University, 311 Academic Building, College Station, TX 77843-4351, USA
Received: 17 August 2012 / Revised: 7 October 2012 / Accepted: 22 October 2012 / Published: 26 October 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theorizing the Web 2012)
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Abstract

At once fearful and dependent, hopeful and distrustful, our contemporary relationship with technology is highly ambivalent. Using experiential accounts from an ongoing Facebook-based qualitative study (N = 231), I both diagnose and articulate this ambivalence. I argue that technological ambivalence is rooted primarily in the deeply embedded moral prescription to lead a meaningful life, and a related uncertainty about the role of new technologies in the accomplishment of this task. On the one hand, technology offers the potential to augment or even enhance personal and public life. On the other hand, technology looms with the potential to supplant or replace real experience. I examine these polemic potentialities in the context of personal experiences, interpersonal relationships, and political activism. I conclude by arguing that the pervasive integration and non-optionality of technical systems amplifies utopian hopes, dystopian fears, and ambivalent concerns in the contemporary era. View Full-Text
Keywords: digital social technology; self; identity; ambivalence; social media; Facebook; social network sites; utopia; dystopia; qualitative methods; morality digital social technology; self; identity; ambivalence; social media; Facebook; social network sites; utopia; dystopia; qualitative methods; morality
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Davis, J.L. Social Media and Experiential Ambivalence. Future Internet 2012, 4, 955-970.

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