If you see a notice “what’s on your mind” it does not necessarily mean that you are at psychologist’s cabinet, it is more likely that you are a Facebook user, another social network widely popular all around the globe, launched in 2004 with more than 200 million users worldwide, which can be accessed at: http://www.facebook.com .
Most Facebook users admit that primarily, they use the network to stay in touch with friends they have known before and regularly get information from them. David Chochua, an international affairs specialist says that if not for Facebook, he would have to call all of his friends separately, one by one just to know how they are, while the network allows him to save time and energy.
Sandro Tarkhan-Mouravi, a web architect sticks to the same idea, stating that Facebook is good for staying in contact with old friends as well as finding new ones. Despite this basic idea, both David and Sandro admit that Facebook is also good tool for receiving and exchanging information from various sources, and the curious thing about it is that the sources in this case are the users themselves who create a media environment around them.
“Network effect is what works here, if you publish something interesting, somebody may like and spread it as well, this effect is similar to the one used in spiral marketing,” Sandro says.
When speaking about the media role Facebook plays in Georgian environment, despite the fact that it is not that popular in the country, Sandro states that for him, personally, it is a main way to get information and a space for discussions. Discussion groups are a separate topic for Facebook and have a special place. David is a member of different groups and often joins the discussions, however avoiding going into polemics too much, stating his idea only once because of lack of time. On the other hand, Sandro is involved in discussions more actively saying that conflict situations are often to be noticed there, especially in political topics:
“Probably the tensions in Georgia are high and the culture of constructive dialogue between the ideological opponents is low, it is often that from the very beginning people start conversations with personal offenses. It is true that tense arguments may be seen everywhere, but blaming each other in being anti orthodox, Satanic or mason is not the thing one may see in foreign discussions ”- he says.
There is a big variety of the groups in Facebook, which tend to discuss wide variety of topics, however Sandro does not think that it is the place where most of the themes are discussed:
“As I have noticed the discussions are mainly held not in specialized topic zones, which are groups, but around the links, materials and statuses set by the users themselves.”
While discussing topics on Facebook, especially Georgian political issues Sandro says that probably users who have different political opinions try not to let inside or not to enter, staying away from the topics which have different and alternative approach to certain things. When asked the question on the same topic David Chochua says: “To speak the truth I have not noticed the clashes between government and opposition supporters, maybe they don’t visit one another’s groups.”
Sharing news, links and opinions of political character is quite common for Facebook, however it is not always that serious, far more often Facebook is used for entertainment concerns, posting each other photos and pictures is probably one of the most widespread form of having fun on the network, as well as numerous quizzes varying and ranging in topics like “What do people think of you at first sight?” “Who should direct the movie of your life” and “Which great philosopher of the past are you?”
The article was published as a free lance work for “Georgia Today,” June 5, 2009 issue.