As millennials, we know that the internet and technology is complicated. In the early chapters of danah boyd’s novel, these complications are organized and spelled out for the reader to relate to. Privacy, addiction, and identity are only the beginning of these areas of concern for many; but all can be viewed in positive and negative lights.
During her chapter about creating an online identity, she writes about how individuals have many freedoms when it comes to each social medium but there are expectations as well. On page 49, boyd writes, “Impression management online and off is not just an individual act; it’s a social process”. After this she uses examples of teens from across the country to express many of her points. In the following paragraph, Matthew provided her with insight into how he believed he was maintaining a professional image online but his friends were not. I find this to be a common scenery between friends and managing a professional image. Despite Matthew’s individual efforts to keep his page viewer friendly, he can’t always control what his friends do with their pages. Through being associated with these friends, he could be risking the identity that he has been working towards.
As a teen, I was less concerned with my professional image online because I wasn’t preparing for the professional world. My parents always warned of that whatever is online will always be there and that still sticks in the back of my mind. I now am more conscious of what I post or what I am tagged in on Facebook.
A few pages later, boyd likens the world of the internet to “one heck of a cultural labyrinth” (53). This analogy creates an image of winding through this maze of unknowing what is going to be around the next turn. Online interactions can be this way, even for adults. One post can be appropriate to share according to one’s values but maybe not to your neighbor who is also viewing it. Identifying your audience is important when writing on paper but writing online can twists and turns depending on who the audience actually is versus who it was intended for. For me, hearing a piece of writing out loud has benefitted my understanding of the author’s intent. I found danah boyd reading the preface of It’s Complicated and in hearing her voice, I am now able to read her words with more understanding of her intent while writing.
Each scenario that boyd provides creates a simple image that most millennials can relate to. Just like Matthew, I try to maintain a profile that can be used for professional and social aspects of my life. I’m bet the following chapters are also going to provide areas of teen’s interactions that can be interpreted various ways by various people, while all being highly relatable.