Friending Participants:Managing the Researcher–Participant Relationship on Social Network Sites
Research into youth engagement with social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook highlights a complex set of ethical dimensions, which do not always translate easily from similar concerns in traditional offline research. On social network sites, it is clear that many young people are managing their online presences in strategic ways, often involving conventions around determining access to these spaces.If these sites are framed by their young users as at least ‘partially private’, how should the researcher seek access to these spaces and how should the researcher operate in these spaces if access is permitted? This article reflects on qualitative research undertaken by the author from 2007 to 2010, which involved ‘friending’ participants on MySpace and Facebook. Based on this reflection, and contextualized by an engagement with literature concerning both Internet research and youth research, this article argues that social network sites blur the public/private dichotomy. Thus, research engaging with participants on these sites requires ongoing ethical reflection around assumptions about public and private information, and researchers, institutional ethics committees and review boards must develop and make use of suitably informed expertise to both conduct and review future scholarship in this area.DocB.Robards013


  • ASMR as a phenomenon 
  • gaming, casts and the friends in your ears
  • processing shared political loss live or thru art (talk therapy)
The YouTube community is unique among online communities. YouTube, as a platform, represents the only en-mass space where-by voice and body are routinely used in communication. This has the effect of curtailing access to many of the variables, available for manipulation towards impression management and image control, that are more readily controlled for in other online locations. Especially for those beginning in early adolescence, leading into early adulthood, entries document growth, pair bonding, and family connectivity. The primary agent of a given channel also showcases their growth as an individual. This remains the case, regardless of the primary form the medium takes. This is as one’s “selfness in expression” can not be contained  (ie be it vlogging; gaming; booktube; commentary; reaction; challenges; quasi/professional; review; makeup; unboxing; sketch; sub-cultural extension; or mental health/health support [1; 2]). The selection and execution of all actions betray aspects of true self in the character presented, by logical necessity [3].
There is an easily identifiable over arching in-grouping, as well as a specified sub-grouping beneath this. Although there is a sub-group that will always be salient as the primary identity (eg ‘gamer’), there is, in addition to this, a more universal identity within the larger community (ie creator). The coming together of the small creators during “Adpocolypse 4” displays a cohesion of in-grouping that would be expected from any classical formation of common shared group narrative identity [4; 5]. The out-grouping, of those in differing sub-genres within the platform, did not matter when faced with the “big other” that was is the amalgamation of the YouTube algorithm, demonetization and general  (continually questionable) corporate management  decisions that threaten the greater general shared identity of “creators” [6].  The resilience of non (financially) partnered  creators, continuing to create,  is to be examined here. A case series of emotional reactions that resulted in cessation of creation, despite small creators making either no money, or less than one US dollar per day/PA, will be contrasted.
One subcategory which warrants unique attention is the Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) community. Though even this group of performance whisperers has been investigated, it has largely been by principles who do not themselves experience the “tingles” to given triggers. This leads to a misclassification, and often over sexualisation, of the bio-physiological response that is ASMR. It is without question that there is a subset, within the subset, who use “attention triggers” and even “quasi sexual association pairing” to ellicit a different response. However, I would posit that this experience is not ASMR proper. I like this category as well, because it walks the line between sterile science, sterile grounded qualitative, and classical full immersive anthropological study. One who does not experience ASMR tingles would have difficulty navigating this community.[1][2][3][4][5]
The YT-RPΔ series will examine the shifts of life. Moving house; personal reflections;  changing of relationship dynamics; first years of college; break-ups, loss and initial diagnoses [7]. This will be examined in light of the “eta eyes” (ηEs) theory, as posited in book two of Death Impending [8]. Here the evolutionary groundwork has been laid out, as to why certain neurological circuit hijacking is a plausible explanation for the positive attribution of engaging in, what are arguably, group tasks – though to naive onlookers, an agent appears to be alone in a room. Similar work from the tele-medicine [9; 10; 11] and cognitive journaling [12; 13; 14; 15] literature will be incorporated, and expanded upon. A differentiation will be made between: in-groups that connected online; online groups, that exist in “aether”; and online “aether” in-groups, that later extend at edges to the world “IRL“*. These will be identified separately, in order to apply set appropriate analyses. Thematic content analysis, with narrative semi-structured/psychological interviews will be examined in phase IV.
Agent actions of interest to profiling, such as: separation of vlog-style channels (including vlogs and ‘x’, eg ‘flips’ etal) from any main channel; the absence of any vlog-style entries across years of content; and alterations in background settings (including those from moving house) will be identified [16; 17]. Analysis of object manipulation will be identified in the phase III pilot, similar to other work [18], and prior to any phase IV interviews.
An analysis of the defensive use of comedy/humor, during character construction, across all afore mentioned “YouTube SubGenres”  will be conducted. This will be completed as an addendum and follow-up to the phase I pilot (and is titled phase II). Phase II is to be a predominantly stand alone sub-project, aside from the more complex larger investigation. Phase II is to examine if YouTube creativity is acting as a surrogate for traditional psychotherapy [26; 27; 28; 29; 30]. An observation of any alterations in creative output flow is to be deployed, following the addition of more formal therapeutic interventions. Phase II will see seven one hour therapeutic intervention sessions, accessed fortnightly, across fourteen weeks. Participants will be given approximate equal doses of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) combinations, thirty minutes prior to each session, in line with established protocol [21; 22; 23; 24; 25]. Further content analysis will then be applied to the following year of YouTube uploads, from each creator, for comparison against their historical baseline. 
Online communities are the primary communities that now exist in the world. Not only is this the case vocationally and at the edges of directed social/romantic/familial engagement (LinkdIn/Twitter/FaceBook/Instagram/dating apps – among others); but it is now the case people have been born who have never known any different world. Indeed, there are few people born now where online community in-grouping, of some variety, did not form either the primary (or one of the primary) initial in-groupings for coming of age and rite of passage rituals [19; 20]. All indications are that this represents a permanent state change for the human animal. As such, going forward this work will be transferable to yet unforeseen new media, that will continue the trend of tech-facilitated initial social learning. This work remains vital, as it is likely now describing the fundamental attributes of a novel, but permanent, fixture of the human experience.
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JCR is the psychiatry & research science investigator for the Chronicle LS.