Introduction & Relevance
In “Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism," Christine Rosen (2007) reminded us, “As with any new technological advance, we must consider what type of behavior online social networking encourages” (p. 16). For Rosen, social networking becomes an enhancement, not a replacement of real-life relationships, and her article suggests that we consider how we use and interact in online social spaces to engage in networking. In her closing remarks, Rosen speculated whether creating webs of online social networks will be as “satisfying” as flesh and blood relationships at a time when the social networking site, Facebook, had begun its ascent to social networking domination.
During this time, Katherine Losse, author of The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of a Social Network (The Boy Kings), began working at Facebook in customer-service. As Facebook's 51st employee, she worked for the company for several years, beginning in customer service, receiving a promotion to help Facebook expand internationally, and leaving the social networking giant as Mark Zuckerberg’s ghost writer. In recounting her experiences and perceptions, Losse nods towards Rosen’s assertion of what it means to lose sight of face-to-face contact and interact on a platform for the exclusivity of social engagement.
This book, written for a popular audience, raises issues the book raises about technology relevant to scholars doing research in digital ethics, Web 2.0/Web 3.0, and the rhetoric of technology. The book also encourages teachers to consider issues such as sharing and privacy, surveillance, subjectivity, the 'neutrality' of technology, and technology's relationship to gender that arise when social networking and social media is incorporated into, say, classrooms. While The Boy Kings is not intended as a scholarly work, it does make for a provocative read in a graduate seminar about digital rhetoric, writing, and pedagogy, or as a cornerstone text in an undergraduate course about similar issues.