Forbes: Women and Facebook in Dominica, Jamaica, Trinidad and the US

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Dr Marcia Forbes’ Streaming: Social Media, Mobile Lifestyles, examines the behaviour of youths online, using research from participants from Jamaica, Dominica, Trinidad and the USA.

The following is the latest in a series of excerpts from the book published in Caribbean Journal.

Facebook Means More to Females

Gender breakout for all four countries showcases the role of females in driving Facebook activities. As Jamaican @wonderosa noted in a September 2011 tweet, “Any girl that says she doesn’t have a Facebook or a Twitter is a liar or on the run from the law.”

One interviewee remarked that, “there are some people that have notoriety on Twitter, notoriety on Facebook, like literally you can see them and be like, ‘Hey, you’re that girl from Facebook,’ so I think that’s a sense of popularity in a different realm that some people cherish.” These statements highlight the importance of social networks to females in that country. A similar situation obtains for Trinidad.

Miller seems spot-on in how he paints the emotional bond that many Trinidadian women have with Facebook. Here is one example: “So Ajani doesn’t just use Facebook, she populates it; there is a deluge of her that pours from her profile. Countless friends and photos and videos and postings and links and events and status updates and activity of all kinds (Miller 2011: 69).”

Twenty-five-year-old Alana is another: “Most nights she goes to sleep around eight. Then, when the rest of her household is asleep, she gets up. From midnight to three in the morning is her core Facebook time and life (Miller 2011: 21).” Jamaican females are quite similar in this respect. They invest a great deal of time and devote substantial energy into Facebook. It means a lot to them.

Facebook for…just about everything

For Jamaican female youths, Facebook involves more than quarrelling and flirting. It serves a wide variety of purposes. Importantly, these include keeping in touch and connecting with family and friends. Some use it for schoolwork, as one girl from a traditional high school in urban St. Andrew explained.

“It’s really easy to, like, share stuff. I mean not only personal stuff, but, the last couple of weeks the teachers at Pleasant (the name of the school has been changed), me no know, they just getting really difficult so everybody is basically teaching themselves, so when I find a link to something I will copy the link, post it to Facebook or post it on somebody’s wall, or inbox it to them.” Others in the group concur.

Another female from another focus group explains how she uses Facebook to archive her modelling portfolio. Yet another highlights how time-saving and useful she finds the informal conventions of Facebook. “As much as I’m not a huge Facebook fan, Facebook message I love. I use that a lot because even email have all these grammatical things and these syntax that need to be followed. (I have to) Tell you hello, then have to ask how you doing, then I have to tell you what up and it’s just, it’s sad, but I find it all too structured.  Facebook: ‘Are you coming?’ Send.”

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