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Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(3), 101; doi:10.3390/socsci6030101

The Web of Loneliness: A Netnographic Study of Narratives of Being Alone in an Online Context

1
Department of education, communication and learning, University of Gothenburg, Box 300, 40530 Gothenburg, Sweden
2
Department of sport science, Linnaeus University, 39182 Kalmar, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 June 2017 / Revised: 20 August 2017 / Accepted: 29 August 2017 / Published: 1 September 2017
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Abstract

Using a netnographic and case-study-based approach, this article uses different blogs as data in order to analyse how loneliness is conceptualized and understood. More precisely, the study aims to investigate experiences of loneliness and related themes in the context of online communication. In approaching the nature of loneliness, we have analytically leaned on the theories and some of the most basic assumptions of symbolic interactionism, according to which, social encounters and situations, their qualities and their existence, have a profound impact on emotional life. This study can be read as an archaeology of online loneliness and the findings suggest that the experiences of online loneliness can be categorized in different genres, such as the poetics of loneliness, the diagnostics and self-harm of loneliness, and loneliness and family life. Although loneliness is approached and discussed differently, the bloggers’ estranged relationships to society tie these identified genres of loneliness together. The different genres derive their character, form and social dynamics from the narrators’ struggle and urge to somehow find a way to fit into contemporary society and achieve satisfying social relationships. Furthermore, displaying and presenting the self, and thus becoming the object of other people’s attention and interest, in the context of online communication, can be a profound way of reconnecting to society and hopefully avoiding isolation and marginalization. View Full-Text
Keywords: loneliness; identity; alienation; social relationships; netnography loneliness; identity; alienation; social relationships; netnography
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Johansson, T.; Andreasson, J. The Web of Loneliness: A Netnographic Study of Narratives of Being Alone in an Online Context. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 101.

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