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The Host in the Machine

Book Description

This book tackles online social networks by navigating these systems from the birth to the death of their digital presence. Navigating the social within the digital can be a contentious undertaking, as social networks confuse the boundary between offline and online relationships. These systems work to bring people together in an online environment, yet participation can dislocate users from other relationships and deviant ‘online’ behaviour can create ‘offline’ issues. The author begins by examining the creation of a digital presence in online networks popularized by websites such as Facebook and MySpace. The book explores how the digital presence influences how social, cultural and professional relationships are discovered, forged, maintained and broken, and journeys through the popular criticisms of social networking such as employee time-wasting, bullying, stalking, the alleged links between social networks and suicide and the decline of a user’s public image. Social networks are often treated as morally ambiguous spaces, which highlights a dissonance between digital and social literacies. This discord is approached through an exploration of the everyday undercurrents present in social networks. The discussion of the digital presence ends by addressing the intricacies of becoming ‘digitally dead’, which explores how a user removes their identity, with finality, from social networks and the entire web.

  • Identifies the undercurrents present in social networks and explores how these influence everyday life
  • Provides insight into how the digital presence insidiously encroaches on offline aspects of a user’s life
  • Examines the idea of becoming ‘digitally dead’ by discussing the often taboo subject of virtual and non-virtual suicide in the context of social networks