Proceedings of the 14 th Norddeutsches Linguistisches Kolloquium 2013 in Halle an der Saale
Edited By Anne Ammermann, Alexander Brock, Jana Pflaeging and Peter Schildhauer
“What’s on Your Mind?” and Who Do You Want to Tell? Negotiating Collapsed Contexts and Multiple Audiences in Facebook Status Updates
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“What’s on Your Mind?” and Who Do You Want to Tell?
Negotiating Collapsed Contexts and Multiple Audiences in Facebook Status Updates
Fabian Gohl and Caroline Schilling
Through the worldwide success of social network sites (SNSs), micro-blogging features,1 such as Facebook status updates, have become widely popular. They are short, self-reported messages whose technological design encourages users to reveal personal information to online contacts (Friends). These contacts are based on various formerly distinct, offline social contexts. Yet, by subsuming all of them under the concept of Friend, the affordances of SNSs create collapsed contexts. It is the aim of this analysis to examine the different methods employed by Facebook posters to maintain discrete contexts and to negotiate the multiple audiences of their status updates.
The study is based on a collection of 81 authentic status updates of students from the University of Greifswald. In a first step, it explores through the category of reader address how users balance their multiple audiences by means of co- and contextual cues. The updates are classified into two groups: 1) updates targeted at the entire network of Friends (generic reader address) and 2) updates specifically aimed at certain parts of the audience (specified reader address). The second part of this analysis examines to what extent the participants employ their full linguistic repertoire by using different languages as well as the alternation and mixing of linguistic features from different languages in...
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