Monday, August 10, 2009

Assymetrical vs Symmetrical Relationships

Doing some research on one of the central themes of my thesis project, that is the kind of relationships that are produced in the social networking world- I came across some interesting new terms:

Relationship (or Follow) Symmetry
Relationship (or Follow) Asymmetry

I initially came across the terms on this post that theorizes that Facebook will eventually turn to an asymmetrical relationship structure. But I will get back to that. A symmetrical relationship is a mutual relationship where both parties benefit and enjoy the perks of friendship in full agreement. Facebook currently has this structure, where you need to accept a friend request in order for both of the users to become friends. An Asymmetrical relationship, however has no requisite mutuality. This is the relationship structure that Twitter uses.

Why is this interesting? Well to be completely honest, this is interesting because it increasingly allows for a non-mutual relationship. What is that? A non-mutual relationship is not a true relationship in my opinion. It is more about one party disemintating information about themselves, almost as a form of P.R. However, the relationship that is then forged when someone enters into this relationship is not reciprocal. As the post that I referenced earlier states, the internet world of social networking is moving towards asymmetrical follow. How will this affect the kinds of relationships that are created on these sites? Are relationships on these sites becoming less authentic?

In my thesis I hope to touch upon how these kinds of imbalanced relationships can alter ones perception of their own friendships.