Online Interactional Vandalism

Be thoughtful about who you invite to play Farmville on Facebook or you may be accused of online interactional vandalism.  I've been looking into ethnomethodology as a potential addition for the research toolkit, and have been coming across interesting applications of the practice.  The techno-sociology-centric blog Code and Culture has an interesting post on understanding the ways in which people "attempt to initiate conversations" in an (amorous sense), the result being that many "marginal men" are guilty of interactional vandalism.  Interactional vandalism is defined as "using interactional norms to get something that the person would normally have no right to except out of that particular interaction."

Case in point:  a man approaches a beautiful woman with her dog, he pets the dog and attempts to initiate conversation on said dog in the hopes that the conversation progression will lead to a phone number, a tryst, what have you.  Once the inevitable rejection statement is administered, these men classify the interaction as "bad etiquette/being rude" on the part of the woman.  The study, done by Duneier and Molotch (1999) concluded that this interaction was in fact an interaction violation, the man is a vandal. 

So how does this translate to an online setting?  Consider Facebook. Ever since making the wise decision of adding my teenage cousin as a friend on Facebook, I have been inundated with requests, invitations, notifications, and pleas to participate in something with him.  I never thought about how I might respond to my Kevin's ensuing message of "Are you mad at me?" because I had ignored his Farmville request, but I think this blog post may have the answer:  "No Kevin, I'm not mad at you, you are just an online interactional vandalist, and I will not condone such behavior." 

BUT...It makes me wonder if this is in fact a violation.  Kevin, having been nearly raised with a variety of social networking platforms, may see this as the norm, and indeed technology has made it seem more "normal."  For example, it's Kevin who is inviting me to Farmville even though the mechanism sending out the invite is in fact Facebook.  One attribute of this interaction that maintains its "vandal" status however is that there is no reflexive or mutual obligation involved.  Essentially, one is being spammed, which in itself is considered a form of violation.  The only difference being, spam usually doesn't oblige the recieipent to "Accept."