Kristina Bedijs

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Kristina Bedijs (Universität Hildesheim)

Shared Face and Face Enhancing Behaviour in Social Media: Commenting the Spanish Goalkeeper’s Tears on YouTube

Among the most frequent acts of face enhancement is the compliment, a speech act directed at the positive face of the interlocutor to make them feel appreciated. We find this face enhancing act in Social Media as well, since people create parts of their social life in online networks and carry face wants in them as well. In this paper, I draw upon a special case of face enhancement directed towards a celebrity person (here, the Spanish national goalkeeper Casillas) present in the medial content, but probably not in the discussion emerging around it, the compliment thus never reaching its primary adressee. I argue that this odd behaviour can be explained with the concept of a shared face (first introduced by Goffman), i.e. the need to be part of a group and to express identification with the peers who share this part of their social identity. Even if the celebrity will not take notice of this act of face work, the shared face of the in-group is touched. In a sample of YouTube comments, I carve out different strategies used for shared face enhancement in Spanish. Expressing an indirect compliment, patriotism and empathy turn out to be the most common strategies, all of which implementing various linguistic means like the use of highly positive lexemes and creative orthography.

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