I agree with you about connection (or lack thereof) when it comes to expressing oneself and "releasing emotions" online. There is a chance that someone will notice and reply and then there is an even greater chance that no one will make a virtual flinch. I attribute this to the great many of connections average SNS users maintain. There are so many friends/colleagues/celebrities/experts to follow, who has time to notice wayward comments from one person who may or may not be exaggerating. It reminds me of a story about people walking past a man on a busy street who was obviously in need of medical attention. It took one person to stop and inquire about the man's condition for others to stop and take notice, too. If this kind of blatant oversight and complete disregard already occurs in real life, I imagine there are countless instances when it has and will continue to occur online. As in Nardi's article, the bloggers surveyed did not express any apprehension about privacy because there is an accepted likelihood that no one out of their social network would be interested in the content. One blogger commented on his blog content as "pretty boring drivel...but it's my drivel" (229). Nardi et al summarizes that "bloggers may ignore potential readers outside their personal social network, in the belief that they themselves are being ignored (which is fine with them)" (229). I wondered about Loughner's friends, as well. I'm sure it makes everyone who practiced "friending" strangers or loose ties reconsider now.
(with apologies for commenting here instead of your main post)Indeed, there does seem to be a fixation on the number of friends/followers Loughner had, and it's interesting to imagine the conclusions that might be drawn if before the shootings he had two thousand followers versus two. I found this quote fragment you posted from Marianne Williamson interesting: "...group pathologies overcame the better angels of a people." One can imagine a lost individual being goaded into action by anonymous online followers or the exhortations of media talking heads, and the portrayal of Loughner-as-victim seems to adopt this view, that maintaining a blog and YouTube channel is a passive, reactive act.Nice linkage with the Dibbell article, and I agree, these days it's hard to imagine someone taking the time to monitor and upbraid every individual who expresses antisocial ideas online.