Social networking websites are one of the very few places where even the homeless people find acceptance and are treated as equal, a new study by University of Dayton researchers reveals.
University of Dayton sociologist and criminologist Art Jipson found out in his most recent research that the homeless, along with everyone else, are turning to social media, and that social media sites are turning into places where all people are truly equal.
"People think of Facebook as this billion-dollar entity with stock offerings that sell gobs of advertising. But, on Facebook, the 'least of our brothers,' as it says in the Bible, have equal access to all of Facebook's offerings, and establish a sense of belonging that is based on more than possessions," Jipson said.
"In a sense, it's a very Catholic way of looking at how we interact with one another. Catholic social teaching expresses a concern about 'a communal, social nature' where 'we are called to reach out and build relationships of love and justice," he added.
Through his interviews, Jipson found that the homeless use social media not only to build support networks, but to solve practical issues, such as where to find their next meal, where to find safe and warm places to sleep, and where to find various social services.
"Why can't I be on Facebook?," asked one of Jipson's subjects in the study.
"I have as much right to that as anyone else. Just because I am homeless, does not mean that I don't care about this stuff, you know? My family is on Facebook. My friends are on Facebook. People who care about me are on Facebook," the subject added.
Another interviewee said: "No one on the 'net cares if I didn't get a shower yesterday or smell some. They don't judge me, you know? ... I feel accepted. I am accepted."