Juggling Social Roles in Social Media

Browncoat (from show Firefly) polo
Juggling the dual role of worker bee and geek by wearing a business casual geek shirt

Sociology has a concept of us holding multiple social roles. At home, I am both a husband and a father. With relatives, I am a son, nephew, or cousin. At work, I am a supervisee, mentor, subject matter expert, or organization historian. Things get a bit more undefined out in the wider world, but I hold social roles out there too.

Each of these social roles vary in the expectations of behavior. So, our behavior may vary depending on which role we are occupying at a given time. And, even more interesting is when we have to juggle multiple social roles AT THE SAME TIME for the first time. The more experience we attain at doing something, the better we get at figuring out the constraints and minefields in a situation.

The human brain devotes a large amount of processing to managing the information about the behavior of others to determine trust. And also ensuring our own behaviors are trustworthy. (You’ve read my prior stuff on Dunbar, right? 1, 2)

Perhaps part of the stress inducing nature of social media is the mixing of these social roles? A giant social network like Facebook means having a variety of relatives, coworkers, and friends mixing in the same spaces. People who come from different backgrounds, political viewpoints, education levels, interests, and levels of restraint. Navigating all this probably generates a ton of stress.

If so, then we need more segmentation.

  1. Limit coworkers to more work appropriate social networks like LinkedIn.
  2. Join topic groups and post content related to it there. To talk about politics, join groups that discuss it. (Be careful to avoid echo chamber groups.)
  3. A private place to discuss more openly with friends. Maybe a private twitter account, a private Facebook group, group chat, etc.
  4. A private place to discuss more openly with family.

Book Review – The Red Queen

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Darwin’s theory of natural selection opened a can of worms. Matt Ridley adds to the support for the case by attempting to explain: Why sexual and not asexual reproduction? Why males and females? Why do some species switch sexes? Why is human behavior around sex so peculiar?

The arguments are well composed and organized to build the case. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I especially enjoyed how others were interested in borrowing the book to read it themselves.

View all my reviews.

(Created on Goodreads.com. Inspired to compose my own by the review of Twilight by Jocelyn.)

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Germane

Maybe its intrinsic to human nature to seek our relevance. To our family. To our friends. To the world. We label those who fail to care about the impact of the behaviors on others as sociopaths. That is a bad thing in case you didn’t know.
🙂

I’ve heard people are happiest in jobs where what they do has meaning to the organization. These employees must feel germane to the organization to have satisfaction. Languishing in a job with no idea how what one is doing helps anyone engenders a feeling of uselessness. Maybe even paranoia about termination could arise. By contrast, knowing the organization completely depends upon every decision made by an individual dispels fear. So many people want to work for Google because Google makes software millions of people use. We provide facilities for thousands of students to conduct their higher education at my work. Its no Google, but I am content.

Mythology, cosmogony, cosmology, and especially religion help define for us where we are in the world and especially what we can do to improve the world around us. We can even find pertinence on the Internet. The popularity of blogs, I think, lies in two things: 1) hoping others find the posts useful in some way and 2) the pertinent comments others leave in feedback.

I think for me, personally, I have not done such a good job understanding my relevance to individuals in my life. Nor have I considered the relevance of other individuals to me. Has anyone systematically done this?