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Ilgar Seyidov- Social Updating

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The impact of social media on individuals is a frequently studied topic in the literature. Some researchers argue that social media tools have "socializing" outcomes in community. On the other hand, others emphasize the antisocial effects
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  556   ►  Ilgar Seyidov   Ankara University, Public Relations and Publicity, PHD Student, ilqar.seyidov@gmail.com A new trend in being sociable: “Social uptading”   Abstract The impact of social media on individuals is a frequently studied topic in the literature. S ome researchers argue that social media tools have “socializing” outcomes in community. On the other hand, others emphasize the anti-social effects manifested through alienation and isolation in the society. Within the framework of this study the concept of “social updating” is dealt with as a new trend and process in interpersonal relationships by means of social media tools. The findings of the current study have shown that social media tools provide a medium by which the participants can be kept up to date on their sociability. Keywords : Sociability, Social Network Approach, Social Updating, Social Media. Introduction The Internet, McLuhan’s utopian idea of a “Global Village” d ated back to 1962 has become real today. According to his statement, the world has turned into a Global Village by means of electronic technology (McLuhan, 2001: 48). Manuel Castells defined the society living in this Global Village as a “Network Society”.  According to Castells, it cannot be claimed that everybody is a member of this network society. However, the dominant function of global networks on social structure affects the entire globe as a whole. Activities such as the participation in financial markets, transnational production, management, distribution of goods and services, labor employment, progression of science and technology, communication, media, culture, arts, sports, religion and even international policy now take place within global networks (Castells, 2004: 22). The study analyzes how social media tools affect social relations among the individuals in this globally- networked village. Furthermore, regarding the “so - cial updating” concept, social media is di scussed as a new sociability trend and medium of individuals in connection with the research findings. 1. Web 2.0 and Social Media In the “global village”, the Web sites established during the Web 2.0 era have led to the emergence of new information media known as social media. Throughout most of the literature on the subject, the definition of social media is  557   roughly agreed upon as the following defined by Karakoç and Gülsünler (2012:44): “Social media is a medium of communication where sharing, interaction and discussion take place with out the limitations of time and space”   This new media is more aptly described as “multimedia” as it contains many dimensions of interaction and can encapsulate information in the form of images, sound, text, and numeric data (Solmaz and Görkemli, 2012: 11 ). There are many different communication tools which are used in social media: Blogs, micro blogs (Twitter), online ranking (Tripadvisor), social  bookmarking (Digg), podcasts, social knowledge (Wikipedia), and video sharing (YouTube), photo sharing (Instagram), location positioning (Foursquare), social network (Facebook), games and forums. These social media tools are increasing in number and diversi fying day by day (Yağmurlu, 2013: 2).  The interactive structure of the Internet and Web 2.0 technologies renders social media more effective than traditional mass media. Compared with mass media, circulation and sharing can be achieved more easily and “freely” in new media. The users as “free” individuals are able to disseminate information regarding any topic. Thus, the users become both the sources and critics of the information ( Babacan, Haşlar ve Hira, 2011: 72).  Generally, as Landsbergen (2010: 135) stated, social media allows 4 signi-ficant opportunities to the users: to create human networks; to build an interactive space; to use the visual, verbal and audio texts simultaneously and to focus on the communication purposes. 2. Socialization, social network a pproach and “Social U p dating”   Human society is based on the consensus that ensures its members’ living in harmony. The consensus arises from the intra-community communication. It depends on shared symbols and norms which are essential factors for the socialization process. The socialization process basically requires an interaction  between the individuals (Clausen, 1968: 3). The elements of the socialization process which are based on continuously changing social relations are always affected by factors in the wider culture (Danziger, 1971: 133). In this vein, adults must change and must be socialized into new roles. Because the socialization experiences are changed from childhood to adulthood in connection with meeting the social demands (Brim, 1968: 184). In a socialization process, humans can be categorized as “socialized” or “unsocialized”. A socialized i ndividual is a person who is sensitive to and is rapport with the norms of his/her society. The opposite of socialized person is called as unsocialized. However, nothing is explained by saying that an  558   individual is “unsocialized”. To claim it, his/her soci alization deficiencies should be scrutinized (Clausen, 1968: 10). The growth of the Internet has initiated the discussions about the nature of community changing by computer-mediated communication. These debates are  based on how this new form of communication changes the social relationships (Hampton, 2004: 217). In this context, there are two opposite opinions: One group of researchers asserts that the Internet provides a suitable medium for communication with friends and family. What is more, it enables the creation of new relationships through the interactions. On the contrary, other researchers emphasize the socially-isolating aspects of the Internet. In accordance with this opinion, wasting large amounts of time on the Internet replaces social activities and particularly face-to-face interaction (Nie et al, 2002: 216). Kraut et al. (1998; 2002) examined the social and psychological impacts of the Internet on individuals. Wellman and Gulia (1999) focused on the socially positive effects of computer-mediated communication. Ellison et al. (2007; 2010) and Steinfield et al. (2008) analyzed the connection between social capital and social networking sites. Additionally many studies have been conducted in Turkey examining the impacts of social media tools on in dividuals. Balcı and Gölcü (2013) focused on the negative effects such as declining social relationships, Alemdar and Köker (2013) emphasized the differences of using Facebook  between the X and Y generations. Göker et al. (2010) analyzed Facebook as a new socializing medium. Karakoç and Gülsünler (2012) focused on the motivations for using social networking sites, such as Facebook. 2.1. Social network approach A social network consists of relations among the network members. The networks have their own structures. These structures have impacts on the individuals’ and networks’ behaviors (Rheingold, 2012: 192). There are two important notions in social system: “ties” and “nodes”. The nodes may be individuals, groups, organizations, and ties or “edges” refer   to the relations. Thus, a social network is a set of “nodes” and the “ties”. In this respect, all networks are typically multiplexed structures because the actors share more than one type of tie (Wellman, 1983, 157; Katz et al, 2004: 308). The Network Approach has a wide range of different disciplines, including sociology, mathematics, social psychology, political science, communication, anthropology, economics and epidemiology. Therefore, there is no single exact definition of network theory (Katz et al, 2004: 308). Within the interdisciplinary framework, the essence of the approach is the social relations among the net-work members. It is based on the structures of the network relations and special  behavioral principles. Sets of network members and sets of social relations are the pivotal points (Wellman, 1999: 15; Vural and Bat, 2010: 3355).  559   From the network perspective, a society is not the sum of individuals which has simple ties; the relationships between the individuals are dyadic as well as complex. Therefore, network analysts research the effects of structural  properties on the personal attributes and dyadic relationships (Wellman, 1983: 157; Rainie and Wellman, 2012: 21). Within the framework of the social network theory, the current study aims to find how social media tools shape the social relations of individuals. More specifically, the aim is to figure out how the social networking sites affect their sociability in relation to their social demands. 2.2. Social updating We are not only the members of a society which we belong to, but also we have own community consisting of kinship, friendship, neighboring and workmate ties. In other words, each individual has his or her own “personal community”. We use different ways of commun ication to maintain the ties with the community members such as face to face, telephone, email, and etc. In this context, computer-mediated communication has provided a new means of social contact. To put it in a different way, this new communication method has facilitated a new shape of social contact to personal networks (Hampton and Wellman, 2002: 346-347). The new media, referred to as social media has led to the emergence of a new communication medium for “personal community”. Social media tools have  become the effective methods of communication in maintaining social ties. According to Rheingold (2012, 192), technological network communication environment has enlarged and developed the traditional social networks and has constituted new forms of sociability. Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram create a medium to individuals for presenting themselves, articulating their social networks and establishing new or maintaining existing social connections (Ellison et al, 2007: 1143-1144). Social networking sites allow to individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile within a  bounded system. Individuals use this profile like a virtual identity in maintaining and developing the social relations of their connections (Steinfield et al, 2008: 434-435). With in the context of this virtual networked sociability, “social updating” is used as a concept to clarify how individuals try to be sociable by using social media tools consistently and how the networking sites shape and “update” their sociability.   3. Method Within the framework of this study, a semi-structured in-depth interview technique was selected as a research method. In this context 20 general interview questions were asked. However, the structure, number and order of  560   questions were changed according to the responses of participants. Because the main advantage of semi-structured in-depth interview technique is the shaping of questions as regards to the participants. Participants were selected through random sampling. Furthermore, interviews were conducted with 15 individuals (8 female / 7 male) on the condition that they have job and use social media tools. The age range for the sample was determined to be 25-30. All the interviews were held by the author of the current study via an audio recorder with the permission of the participants. Moreover, the interviews were conducted in Turkish and then translated into English. The estimated duration of interviews with the participants varied between 25 and 35 minutes. Research questions include: - How do social media tools affect social ties? - How does social media provide a medium for their sociability? 4. Findings The impacts of social media tools on social relations and sociability were analyzed through the semi-structured in-depth interviews. The different names are used for the participants in analysis. Research findings have been categorized under 9 (nine) main groups. 4.1. Daily Use of Social Media According to the findings, participants indicated that they use social media tools frequently during the day. The duration of use of social media tools by the  participants varies in connection with the leisure time in working days. In  particular they check their virtual profiles when they wake up and before they sleep: To wake up in the morning is to check my Facebook profile and Instagram. I don’t know why  (Eda, F, 27, Actress). Generally I am online in every morning, afternoon and tonight. In fact all those tools are already installed in my phone, that’s why I check as much as in a day (Cem, M, 27, Lecturer). I use it in a large part of the day. Absolutely, every night before the sleep, and after waking up (Burak, M, 28, Laboratory technician). 4.2. The purposes of Social Media use In general, participants focus on two main purposes of social media use: To follow the agenda and to communicate with the friends. According to their thoughts, social media tools lead to a greater awareness of current events in the social world. Additionally, they think that social media is important in order to “update” their soc ial lives:
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