For the past four days I’ve been reading “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” by Danah Boyd. She is currently giving away free online copies of her book here.
I feel this book’s intended audience are adults, adults who typically don’t comprehend teenagers’ use of the internet. I would say about 2/3 of this book is dedicated to those adults that continue to misunderstand us. However, the other 1/3 remaining is dedicated to us young adults struggling to maintain our digital presence in the ever evolving social media we encounter. It gave me a greater insight on many of the social implications of interactions we perform online, some things that I would never think about and I bet most young adults don’t even think about when interacting online.
I like the extensive field work she has done throughout the United States. Boyd has interviewed many young adults about their opinion on social media and the way they use it in their daily lives. However, I feel like the book would’ve benefitted from surveying young adults in less economically developed countries because many of the situtations described aren’t applicable outside the United States or Canada.
In her book, Boyd points out that teens reject profile requirements in these sites because they refuse to portray themselves like these sites want them to. Teens don’t really pay attention to these requirements because for the most part the people they will be interacting with are their own peers who know them well. Boyd explains that social media are extensions of social interactions are therefore NOT ways in which teens hide from the outside world, rather they use it as a way to further extend their relationships.
Boyd looks into social issues of racial and ethnic inequality. Many people assume that the internet and social media would blur these divides in society. However, the truth is that when teens participate online they are reproducing their race based dynamics. In her chapter “Inequality” Boyd says “Although thechnology makes it possible in principle to socialize with anyone online, in practice, teens connect to the people that they know and with whom they have most in common” to signal this further division and racial and ethnic inequality of those participating in social media.
Boyd presents the idea of being in public and being public. I believe this is an idea to always keep mind. Most adults think that teens need to be part of social media is because they want attention. However, teens use social media to interact with others in a more selective way not really crying out for approval from their peers. By deciding what to post and what not to post online, teens are demonstrating a side of them without revealing their entire self, this is where they separate their digital identity and true self . Many adults claim that teens are “addicted” to social media. Having said that, Danah draws attention to the fact that constant interaction through social media for teens is a highly social behavior. Teens aren’t addicted to the components of social media but they are rather addicted to one another.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Boyd’s book on the way young people like me interact with social media. Many of the passages and interviews she did with teens make her book relatable and demonstrate concrete evidence of her explanations. I would definitely recommend this book for any one trying to understand teens’ interactions online or for a course like this one.
And to those adults out there still not understanding our constant need of the internet and social media: Go out and buy this book and OH YES IT IS COMPLICATED YOU HAVE NOOO IDEA.