In STREAMING: Volume 1; #Social Media, Mobile Lifestyles, Dr Marcia Forbes, teases out responses from research participants about their life online. Here 'online' refers to the Internet and cellphones. Youths in the 17-to-30 age range from four countries describe how they use Facebook and Twitter and what their mobile phone means to them. This book gives deep insights into youth culture, the concept of mobility and the social ecologies of virtual spaces. It is available in hard copy format in Jamaica at Phase 3 and in various eBook formats. Kindle version: http://amzn.to/ILciaf. ePub version: http://bit.ly/LlsmKk
A Culture of 'Tracing'
Some females take this well-known culture of 'tracing' into their life online as one way of attracting attention and hyping themselves to gain Facebook friends and/or notoriety. In some cases, though, as expected, this is a reflection of their offline identity. One inner-city girl insisted this is so for her. She told how prepared she was to defend an older woman whom she had only met on Facebook, on hearing how the woman had been scammed by another female. "Well, if me hold that girl deh, me woulda tear her up. Yeah you gwan bad pon Facebook enuh and then when you finally see the person in appearance, Oh jeez! you want kill the person." [Well, if I hold that girl I would tear her up. Yes, you do behave badly on Facebook, you know, and then]. She would be quite willing to harm the person who had stolen from her Facebook friend.
Online versus Offline Behaviour
One rural-based teenage girl explained that her online behaviour was similar to how she behaved in real life. "Anything that's on my mind, I say it. If I view somebody's profile and I see something that I don't like, me just say it - me no really care." Although she initially denied another girl's comment that she'd be starting an argument, notice how she soon admitted that this was precisely what she did and then 'walked away', in the manner of a true instigator.
"No really start a argument, even if I don't know you and you posted something and then somebody else comment and I don't like. Me just comment and just tell them wha deh pon me mind [what's on my mind] and then you start up this big argument. Some a [of] the time I just log out and it may continue, although me no really care."
Uptown versus Downtown
In Jamaica, as in other Caribbean countries, this type of behaviour is not expected of the more educated and well-to-do, but it does happen. As a middle-class girl from one of the island's preferred high schools said, "You're a different person, because the way I'd speak to her at school, you wouldn't actually know. It's Facebook - nobody is around to hear or anything. You different."
On Facebook, males and females across socio-economic strata tell how they behave "loud" and out of character as a part of the freedom they feel in cyberspace. This is although many of them are well aware that it is only virtual freedom and that their life online is often, and increasingly so, available for public scrutiny.
Many mention the protective shield of the computer screen against real-life persons who would harm them physically following Facebook outbursts and face-offs. "Some girls probably feel more confident online because, you know, they are not seeing the person face-to-face, so they can say what they want."