Sociology of Virtual Communities and Social Media(Public and semi-public places)

Sociology of Virtual Communities and Social Media (Public and Semi-public Places)


Social organization is constantly changing with innovations and creation of new ways to communicate and relate to each other. People have to coexist and relate to each other in ways that benefit them and create connectivity around the individuals, community and the society. With all forms of relations currently existing and with the factors supported or motivated by technology, there aspects of strong, weak and latent ties have been further developed to reflect the changing seasons. Both strong and weak ties are of essence to the individuals as they present chances for communication and exchange of ideas and other important aspects like business. The paper looks at the definitions of weak, strong and latent ties in social networking, their importance and how usage of mobile phones and laptops in public and semi-public spaces influences interaction especially for the weak and latent ties.

Definition of Weak ties and Latent Ties

Weak ties are created where the people associated in the ties do not know each other well but participate in the social networking interactions with aspects of expansion and connecting to new people. As opposed to strong ties where members know each other and share common and strong interests, weak ties are established with acquaintances and friends to the acquaintances becoming members in the society of the networking. This can be applied in platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram among other social media. Every social connection has strong and weak ties. The group of people you communicate less often with, for instance, once a year, or twice after five years is a weak communication (Lecture 5, 2015).

Latent ties can be defined as technically possible although they have not yet been its potential users. There are several media platforms that provide latent ties like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn among others where users have the capacity to have accounts and communicate with others in their knowledge. For instance, Twitter has over 93 million users who can exchange communication through the channel of friends and connections or followers. An event can arise where the users of the platform can sign up or decide to follow hence at their status prior to their following they are latent ties. Latent ties exist within a community of associated interests like a school, group of musicians, professionals among others.

Important of Weak and Latent Ties

Weak ties are important in the social networking as they lead to several actions. Social network has created a network of people who realize they know each other and a platform is established with further strengthening, where members become more active. The weak ties have been used to communicate important topics of messages across the members. For instance, an upcoming event can be placed on the Instagram or Facebook and the members would be able to access and read it thus being informed. The student connection established during the weak ties can revolutionize to create a stronger group. It can later graduate to active engagement with mutual benefits. It has been observed that weak ties reduce the concept of six-degrees to dour degrees of separation in networking and connection.

In public spaces and semi-public places where people interact present with options of meeting on the online platform, share their details and become acquainted to each other. The concept of social networking can be applied in businesses where members benefit from the establishments. For instance, entrepreneurs existing or working within areas of proximity can be connected to the same aspects like society, hotels, school, public space and thus with discovering of each other, the weak ties become strong and lead to business interactions that leads to growing of opportunities for the members in the weak ties. Other scholars observe that it is hard for people in weak ties to establish strong groups or communities. Granovetter (1973) observes that weak ties have low capacity of making community organizations that make changes to the society. For instance, the Italian community staying at the Bostons West End could not engage and make a strong organization against the urban renewal that later destroyed the community.

Public awareness of important aspects is enhanced through the weak ties. For instance, spread of contagious diseases like Ebola, Cholera and others can be controlled by creating awareness on the online media. Most communities sit between strong and weak ties hence they benefit from the exchange of information among the individuals of the networks. Since it is easy to connect with each other through the weak ties, the once hibernated people surface and present their thoughts on the topic and information is exchanged. Communities maintain good relationship through the powerful latent and weak ties that allow growth and innovation when information is shared.

In an establishment like school, weak and latent ties bridge the social capital scale where members become interconnected to each other. Activities like sports, seminars and come-together enhance the relationship of the school community. It also promotes bonding of the social capital scale. Participants are able to maintain their social capital scale and thus make steps towards creating strong relationship. On the social media are several options like photos of people, places and events; entertainment forums; and personal contacts like phone numbers, emails and places of residences where people can contact each other.

How Mobile Phone and Laptop Usage in Public and Semi-Public Spaces Impact Interaction between Weak Ties

Phones and laptops have been used in several places including libraries, parks, resting places and other common public places. There are usually impacts in the interactions on the people as they engage with each other through the online platform. Online social networking may include Facebook, Internet, emails, Twitter, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and other emerging platforms where people on a public space can exchange their information. Public spaces with connection of internet and cloud computing can enable people to connect to each other. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are applications that users in a public and a semi-public space can share and exchange information. In schools and other places with free information and access to internet can intrigue people to share information where specifications like detection of nearby appliances is enabled. The provision enables people to us mobile phones and computers (laptops) to detect each other and the users can exchange information. With phones detecting each other, users who are not familiar with each other can notice each other and start conversation through their appliances like phones and computers with options of connecting or allowing connection to each other. There are things like exchanging of files, music, documents, software and other downloadable materials like jokes, songs and pictures takes place when mobile phones and computers share public and semi-public forums (Humpreys, 2005).

Interactions are changed when people share the same forums on social networks, for instance, members can notice those who are around them and create friendship that starts with latent ties and can later grow to weak ties where members later exchange information and benefit from each other. Mobile phones and computers can be used to exchange information through platforms like google, emails and other online platforms like blogs where weak and latent ties are established. Usage of Wi-Fi has increased 59% of people using it in US with increasing provision of Municipal Wi-Fi, hotspots and residential Wi-Fi (Hampton, Livio and Goulet, 2010).