Четверг, 13 июняИнститут «Высшая школа журналистики и массовых коммуникаций» СПбГУ

Etiquette of second remarks in social networks (illustrated with examples of social networking “Country of moms”)

Problem statement. Social networks “are online platforms designed to organize, reflect, and structure social relationships in the Internet” [Samsonova 2018: 413]. There are several approaches to the study of social networks in modern science, depending on the scientific direction in which they are studied. One of the vectors of understanding this phenomenon is the consideration of social networks as a kind of social media along with blogs, forums, messengers, etc. [Scott 2010]. At the same time, social networks are an open communication system and have the form of a dialogue, which is formed by users’ remarks and has a spontaneous and situational character. Like any dialogue, a dialogue in social networks needs to be harmonized which is a necessary condition for effective communication. It is well-known, a harmonious dialogue is determined by the following conditions: “1) the consistency of the interlocutors’ strategies and tactics; 2) tone of communication, mutually acceptable for the communicants; 3) sincere (not ostentatious) interest in the subject of discussion, as well as in the content of what was said by the interlocutor; 4) adequate verbal and non-verbal embodiment of the participants’ communicative attitudes in the dialogue; 5) achievement of at least partial understanding and agreement of the parties in the process of speech act” [Kolokoltseva 2009]. However, within the social networking, the nature of harmonization is defined by the following trends: 1) using units typical of the spoken language, — colloquialization; 2) game-style expressivity; 3) poly-codes used; 4) reduction and coarsening of speech style associated with lack of users’ education, and with the anonymity of communication in social networks [Matusevich 2016]. Thus, it can be assumed that a social network is a communicative system characterized by special ethical and aesthetic characteristics of speech behavior caused by the pragmatics of communication in the network. In particular, the network etiquette as a means of dialogue harmonization, opposing speech aggression, which is perceived by the addressee as a threat, insult, dislike, etc., has its own peculiarities [Maidanova 1997]. Consequently, one of the possible approaches to the study of social networks may be considering them in line with the criticism of media speech, which also considers media speech in terms of its compliance with ethical and aesthetic norms [Vasilieva 2018: 45]. Although research in this area mainly concerns in the speech activity of a professional in the media sphere [Bessarabova 2015; Surikova 2004], we should also consider changes in the norm of network communication, their compliance or non-compliance with constant norms (politeness, respect for the interlocutor, truthfulness, ability to listen).

Background. The concept of “social networks” has been actively used in sociology since the middle of the last century, but in a different meaning than it is assumed in this study. Social networks were understood as social groups (organizations) of different levels (see [Travers, Milgram 1969; Fischer 1982; Wellman 1979] and many others). Currently, social network analysis is an actively developing interdisciplinary research practice [Bearman, Moody, Stovel 2004; Koester, Glanz, Baron 2005], which is based on mathematical graph theory and empirical research in anthropology and sociology. In this case, the so-called nodes and the interactions between them are studied. With the emergence and development of the Internet space, some of these studies began to use electronic resources as empirical material.

Now social Internet networks are actively studied by methods of various sciences: in sociology [Castells 1996; Dulina, Efimov, Nebykov, et al. (ed.) 2014; Efimov 2015], in philosophy — as a system that has the properties of autopoiesis and causes the subject transformation [Lavrenchuk 2011], in psychology — in terms of virtual reality’ impact on mental development and human health [Nosov 1997], in the theory of journalism — as a form of electronic media [Akopov 1998].

Social networks also become a subject of analysis in linguistics: first, in the framework of general arguments about the language in the Internet and its influence on the Russian language [Kostomarov 2005; Goroshko 2007], and secondly, in the works on the verbal behavior of social network users [Popova, Voznesenskaya, Kolesova and others 2012; Grishanina 2017; Fisher, Smith, and Welser 2006].

There are also a few works on speech etiquette in social networks, however, they consider it narrowly as the norm of politeness speech formulas use [Zoltner, Shaburova 2017]. L. R. Duskaeva writes: “Speech etiquette in mass media is a speech resource specific not only for the media sphere as a whole, but also for the speech types and forms in it, aimed at harmonizing communication: cooperation, taking into account the communicative interests of the addressee, his/her needs, thematic and ideological preferences” [Duskaeva 2018: 235]. A complex consideration of speech etiquette in social networks as a means of speech activity harmonization in different situations of communication: (about etiquette in this sense also: [Duskayeva, Kornilova 2012]) has not yet been undertaken. Meanwhile, the relevance of the stated problem is obvious, which is proved by numerous “non-professional” generalizations on speech etiquette in social networks, as a rule, which are a set of rules or tips for a generalized user of a generalized network (for example: “15 golden rules of etiquette in social networks” («15 золо­тых пра­вил эти­ке­та в соци­аль­ных сетях»), Interesno. 14.11.2016; “15 rules of etiquette in social networks, which are shameful not to know” («15 пра­вил эти­ке­та в соци­аль­ных сетях, кото­рые стыд­но не знать»), Cosmopolitan. 4.11.2017 and the like). In this study, it is expected to consider speech means of harmonization and dis-harmonization of a dialogue in different models of the second remarks in social networks illustrated with examples from “Country of Moms”.

Research methods. For the development of the presented problem we used the whole complex of methodological tools of linguistic and stylistic text analysis. The study involves several stages:

  1. identification of the second remarks models in the dialogue of the social network for mothers;
  2. definition of speech tools aimed at harmonization or dis-harmonization of the dialogue;
  3. establishment of pragmatics of the found speech means’ use depending on the strategy of speech behavior chosen by the specific user.

Material analysis. The social network “Strana mam” (https://​www​.stranamam​.ru/) is a platform for the parental (or future parents’) discussion of various issues, mainly relating to children, family relations and leisure activities. The network brings together women of different ages, levels of education and social status (men are much less likely to be members of such communities).

Communication mainly has a value-oriented character — to a greater extent, of course, they are talking about family values. The mission of the network is formulated by the resource administration as follows: “our network is created exclusively for pleasant and interesting communication, useful for its participants”, that is, one can observe the initial orientation to harmonious communication among the participants. Compliance with the rules of the forum is followed by the moderators and administration. The main prohibitions relating to speech behavior are the ban on obscene vocabulary use, on transition into personal matters, the incitement of ethnic.

In this case, the models of the second remarks and the manifestation of etiquette in each of them are considered basing on the example of “Public breastfeeding” discussion. The material was chosen not by chance: firstly, its significance is due to the resonance of this topic among the network users, which is confirmed by a large number of comments (7440 at the time of writing this paper; only broad topics related to the overall health of mother and child have more comments); secondly, it is focused on value-oriented discussion, due to the theme; third, the users express opposite points of view on the problem submitted to the initial post (whether to feed or not to feed a baby in public).

The structure of any social network discussion can be presented as follows:

— initial post (stimulus cue);

— reactions of the first row (remarks-incentives for secondary remarks of the second row);

— remarks-reactions of the second row…

Discussion initiates a new discussion, splits into local discussions affecting individual users. Thus, there may be remarks-reactions of the third row, of the fourth row, etc. Each second remark can, in its turn, become a remark-stimulus, and a possible basis for their classification is the ability to undergo this transformation, which will depend on compliance or non-compliance with the etiquette principles.

In this regard, the discussion is often cyclical, going back to the initial post, then going into private discussions. The number and nature of such cycles is largely determined by the theme.

I. M. Voznesenskaya distinguishes two types of user’s verbal behavior at the dedicated forum: aggressive and logical-rational types of discussions [Popova, Voznesenskaya, Kolesova and others 2012: 44]. With regard to the second remarks, this is manifested, firstly, in the general willingness to continue communication, and secondly, in the nature of communication, which the second remark is focused on — a potential remark-stimulus. Thus, the second qualitative characteristic of the second remarks’ models is their orientation to constructive or destructive communication. This orientation is manifested in the character of the citations of the second remarks as their constructive feature [Arutiunova 1986; 1990].

We consider the second remarks’ models focused on continued communication to be remarks of response, remarks of argument and questions.

A response-remark is the answer to the question asked in the initial post. This type is the basis of responding remarks of the first row. Etiquette in this model of the second remarks is manifested in the repetition of semantic dominants, which are a means of expression and formed by the initial post. This becomes especially obvious in the case when the initial post is a survey. For example, in the studied discussion of public breastfeeding admissibility, the author offers users the following question accompanied by answers: Breastfeeding in public: unacceptable, normal (Груд­ное вскарм­ли­ва­ние на пуб­ли­ке: недо­пу­сти­мо, нор­маль­но). Initially, an evaluation scale is introduced, according to which users are asked to evaluate this mother’s action (breastfeeding in public) in relation to the child (orientation to family values). Naturally, it is the evaluative vocabulary along with the designation of the action and the actors that plays the role of keywords in the comments.

Two more positions of semantic dominants are taken by words that give a qualitative characteristic of the action (it often defines the assessment, too) — covered, open (при­кры­то, откры­то): it is covered, to feed openly, covered breast (это при­кры­то, кор­мить откры­то, при­кры­тая грудь), etc. These positions are also given by the initial post, which the author ends with the following presentation of her/his own opinion: My opinion: if you cover yourself, breastfeeding in public is acceptable (Мое мне­ние: если укрыть­ся, ГВ на пуб­ли­ке допу­сти­мо) (the presence of another evaluative word — acceptable — shall be noted (допу­сти­мо)). Thus, a special formality of users’ communication on a certain topic is formed. The content of the second remarks is partly programmed: there are key words that form the content side, evaluation and motivation. At the same time, this programming is often felt by the users themselves, as can be seen from the comments containing language reflection

7 October at 9:08
+1 — +
Covered is the key word (При­кры­тая — клю­че­вое слово).

7 October at 9:21
+5 — +
I take it as something normal if it is covered, so to say. The other day I saw… a lady in metro her baby started crying, so she lifted the sweater and her breast fell out of there, sorry, and the next-sitting guy jumped up — he didn’t expect this. Well, honestly, it was an unpleasant sight. Now there are a lots of special clothes or she could at least use a nappy cover. Of course, home is the best place for it, but there are mothers who can not be at home all the time, they have no help, they have to go shopping or whereelse. I understand it, so I take it normally, but only provided, that this is done under cover
(Нор­маль­но я к это­му отно­шусь если это при­кры­то, как гово­рит­ся. Я в мет­ро тут виде­ла … тётю у неё малыш запла­кал, так она сви­тер под­ня­ла и отту­да, изви­ни­те, выва­ли­лась грудь, а рядом парень аж под­ско­чил — не ожи­дал. Ну, чест­но, было непри­ят­ное зре­ли­ще. Сей­час пол­но одеж­ды спе­ци­аль­ной или хоть пеле­ноч­кой при­крыть. Конеч­но, дома луч­ше все­го, но есть и мамы, у кото­рых нет воз­мож­но­сти всё вре­мя дома быть, нет помо­щи, при­хо­дит­ся выхо­дить за покуп­ка­ми или ещё куда. Я пони­маю, поэто­му нор­маль­но отно­шусь, но толь­ко при усло­вии, что это дела­ет­ся при­кры­то)1.

In this case, the choice of lexical units from the synonymic series depends on the position of the user (chest, tit(s), boobs (грудь, сиська(и), сися)). The predicate also often serves as a means of expression of an assessment (she pulled out a boob, the breast fell out (сись­ку выта­щи­ла, выва­ли­лась грудь)).

Remark-argument in favor of the proposed point of view, as a rule, is a remark-reaction of the second rows, appearing in response to a comment containing the opposite point of view. The remark-argument is put forward in defense of the previously expressed position. Peculiarities of etiquette manifestations are similar to the cue-response. The citation is manifested in the same formula elements formed by the initial post and partly by the comment, which became a direct incentive for this remark:

7 October at 13:34
+1 — +
Only women are outraged, may be they are afraid that their man will see someone else’s breast ))))
(Воз­му­ща­ют­ся толь­ко жен­щи­ны, может боять­ся, что их муж­чи­на грудь чужую увидит)

mamaLesya 79
7 October at 15:48
+7 — +
What about those boys who haven’t even seen a girl’s breasts yet? You could modestly turn away or cover the breast, instead of showing it off defiantly — I’m a mother, what’s the problem?
(Как быть маль­чиш­кам, кото­рые ещё даже не виде­ли грудь девуш­ки? Мож­но скром­но отвер­нуть­ся или при­крыть грудь, а не выва­ли­вать демон­стра­тив­но — я же мать, а чё тако­ва?)

In this case, the comment, based on the remark-argument model, contains an additional evaluative element in the form of I am a mother (я же мать) formula, used by opponents of public breastfeeding and other attributes of the so-called “natural” motherhood. There is a citation of a different nature: the user quotes a formula common to supporters of his point of view, which is widely used in the Internet space in general, and not only in this particular discussion. In this case, the formula is a provocation for the opposite point of view supporters and a sign of unification for like-minded people, that is, the second remark is initially arranged in such a way as to become an incentive for the continuation of the dialogue. And since the nature of this sign is basically dual, the dialogue can be continued both in a constructive and destructive way.

A question as another model of the second remarks is, as a rule, initially provocative and is used to stimulate a dialogue with users who adhere to the position opposite to the author’s comment. Although the same keywords are used in the questions, the nature of their use is qualitatively different from those in responses-remarks and responses-arguments. The keyword can be used to deny the subject of the dispute, for example, as in this case:

9 October at 6:48
0 — +
Where are those breasts? How much can you see behind the child’s head?
(Где там та грудь? Мно­го ли вид­но за голо­вой ребенка?)

mamaLesya 79
9 October at 19:21
+1 — +
↑The answer for Ninnetta: Where are those breasts? How much can you see behind the child’s head? …You either pretend or really do not understand what many are trying to convey to you. First, breasts’ size matters. Agree that 1 and 2 will not catch the eye of others like 4, 5 will. Yes, the child’s head will hide 1 and 2 size. If a woman has a large breast, she just physically can not get it out unnoticed by others. That’s what this is all about. Although some do not care, having small breasts, and DEFIANTLY expose it for feeding. I hope I explained it clearly
(↑Ответ для Нин­не­та: Где там та грудь? Мно­го ли вид­но за голо­вой … Вы или дела­е­те вид или дей­стви­тель­но не пони­ма­е­те того, что до вас мно­гие пыта­ют­ся доне­сти. Во пер­вых — раз­мер гру­ди име­ет зна­че­ние. Согла­си­тесь, что 1 и 2 не будут бро­сать­ся в гла­за окру­жа­ю­щим, так как 4, 5 и т. д. И да, за голо­вой ребен­ка не будет вид­но 1 и 2. Если у жен­щи­ны боль­шая грудь, то она про­сто физи­че­ски не смо­жет её достать неза­мет­но для окру­жа­ю­щих. Вот об этом и речь. Хотя неко­то­рые не парят­ся, имея малень­кую грудь и ДЕМОНСТРАТИВНО обна­жа­ют её для корм­ле­ния. Наде­юсь понят­но объяснила)

How effective was the provocation in this example, can be judged by the volume of the comment, and the use of graphic selection (CapsLock), as well as by the presence of emoticon, expressing bewilderment, and the number of evaluative vocabulary (to catch the eye, unnoticed, do not care, defiantly (бро­сать­ся в гла­за, неза­мет­но, не парят­ся, демон­стра­тив­но)).

As the second remarks, aimed at breaking communication, we have found such models as question-blocker and remark-blocker in the study material.

A question blocker differs from a simple question in its focus on the lack of an answer. If silence in response to a question in the general situation is a violation of etiquette, the question-blocker by its nature is aimed at “speech paralysis” of the interlocutor. In this case, silence becomes just a means of speech etiquette, in many cases allowing to avoid further conflict.

The citation of the second remark, organized according to the model of the question-blocker, is based on the preceding remark. In this case, the author of the question-blocker chooses no semantic dominants, but positions of someone else’s text that are significant for him personally. There is a peculiar semantic and speech disorientation of the opponent, often having a manipulative character. In this respect, the refusal to answer can be also considered a protective reaction of the user, because the response in this case would be a deviation from the theme (the so-called flood), which is punishable by moderators of the network.

nil 21
10 October at 0:08
+3 — +
Ninnetta writes: Why are you irritated by the view of an eating child but aren’t by the view of an eating adult? Not the “eating child” but the breast thrown out, often of far from the classic shapes
(Нин­не­та пишет: Поче­му вид куша­ю­ще­го ребен­ка вас воз­му­ща­ет, а куша­ю­ще­го взрос­ло­го нет? Да не “куша­ю­ще­го ребен­ка”, а выва­лен­ной гру­ди, часто дале­ко не клас­си­че­ских очер­та­ний)

10 October at 1:01
+5 — +
Is the problem with the shape? 
Can fat people walk in the streets, eh? Can bold ones?
(Про­бле­ма в очер­та­ни­ях?
А тол­стым по ули­цам ходить мож­но? А лысым?)

It is obvious that in this case the problem of public feeding was discussed which can also provoke esthetic rejection of people around, it wasn’t at all about humiliation of people with appearance other than ideal, but the question-blocker takes the readers away to this subject, being at the same time the hidden charge of intolerance.

Response-blocker is also a means of opponent’s speech disorientation. However, the principle of its work is different than that of the question-blocker. Disorientation is not due to the shift of semantic accents and substitution of semantic dominants in the second remark, but due to the complete absence of citation in it. Outwardly, a blocking response, if it occurs in a discussion for the first time, is completely unrelated to the previous discussion:

9 October at 19:24
+3 — +
I read the above sequence of opinions. The main idea is that public feeding, so that everyone can see it — causes rejection…
(Чита­ла я выше вет­ку. Основ­ная мысль — при­люд­ное корм­ле­ние, так, что­бы все всё виде­ли — это вызы­ва­ет неприятие…

10 October at 6:39
0 — +
Don’t look at it — and that’s all)))
(Не смот­ри­те, делов то)

Further on, the author of the response-blocker is engaged in self-citation. Since the network discussion is not a dispute in its classical form and has, as we mentioned above, a spiral composition, the possibility of using the found formula is provided at each “turn”. The user, having once found a successful formula, repeats it again and again, while maintaining it almost unchanged with some variability (sometimes up to emoticons use): Do not look at it, and that’s all)); Do not look and there are no problems)); Well, if it is unpleasant, you can simply avoid looking; Do not look and there are no problems)) (Не смот­ри­те, делов то))); Не смот­ри­те и нет про­блем)); Ну если непри­ят­но, то мож­но про­сто не смот­реть; Не смот­ри­те и нет про­блем))). The polite answer to the blocking response, as in the case of the blocking question, is silence.

Research result. The analysis of the material showed that several models of the second remarks can be distinguished: remark-reponce, remark-argument, question, question-blocker, remark-blocker. Each of these models is characterized by its degree of focus on productive communication, and therefore, its degree of etiquette expression. An important manifestation of etiquette in the second remarks is the citation, which helps the addressee to orient in the interlocutor’s opinion. For this purpose, key lexical positions are used, which assume the role of formulas, which are markers of the topic of conversation, evaluation and motivation. Through the use of such formulas, the second remarks become, in turn, remarks-stimuli, which form a new round in the spiral structure of discussion in the social network. The imposition of other elements of stimulus-remarks as a semantic dominant or the failure of the already established formulae is the basis of the user’s orientation onto destructive communication, as is the case with questions-blockers and remarks-blockers.

Summary. Within the framework of communication in the social network, its own system of etiquette is formed: some comments provoke new remarks, others are focused on interrupting communication or its continuation in a destructive way. Ignoring the latter is not a violation of network etiquette norms, but, on the contrary, a sign of following them.

The norm itself becomes an extremely mobile concept. The difference in the models of the second remarks is, in particular, the ability to turn into remarks-stimuli and to generate remarks-reactions of the next row, which in turn become remarks-stimuli.

In the original texts the authors’ spelling and punctuation is kept.

Ста­тья посту­пи­ла в редак­цию 10 фев­ра­ля 2019 г.;
реко­мен­до­ва­на в печать 21 фев­ра­ля 2019 г.

© Санкт-Петер­бург­ский госу­дар­ствен­ный уни­вер­си­тет, 2019

Received: February 10, 2019
Accepted: February 21, 2019