” Many teens turn to networked publics to explore a wider world, and that often includes a world that their parents want to protect them from.” (Boyd, 126)
We occupy this world with distinct regularity, tied to our inner impulses to check the world as it goes about its business. It’s no longer a placeholder, a mere paperweight, in our lives. No – the innocuous (or seemingly so) internet that fills parents with dread is now our not so virtual reality.
Dread, resentment, anger, frustration: All feelings that our parents might have felt at one point as we grew up and fixated on these brightly lit screens of ours. But as we know, in Boyd’s research on the interconnected lives teens live through this medium, it’s not all so doom and gloom. There is a lot to learn from young adults and their love of the internet.
What we do know, as Boyd tells us, is that through these links, teens rejoice in the freedom it allots and in the merriment they have. No longer waiting in anticipation for the next day of school, friends can now prolong an important conversation, or gossip about the day’s happenings, or find common ground with a stranger, all online. Boyd tells us that this time spend glued to the screen acts as a social lubricant, a moment of understanding between two parties as they navigate both the hostilities and bounties of being a social creature.
Essentially her argument, much like Carr and Ronson, is that our relationship with the online world and the outcomes emanating from such are quite complicated (hence the title of her book). Not a soul attempts to fabricate a complete, encyclopedic knowledge of the numerable connections the internet has on us and our lives. Not Ronson, not Carr, and certainly not Boyd. All attempt to give the reader an enhanced perspective of one arena, but all fail to paint the picture.
And that, I believe, is why these books have resonated with me, as well as members of this class. Each turn of the page furthers our understanding of the author’s thesis, yet denies is entry into another realm of thought. Perhaps deny is too strong a word; the author surely doesn’t leave out information maliciously. All of them have bested their story with facts and testimonials from people, real people, though Ronson gives us the darkest anecdotes from an online relationship gone wrong.
To briefly summarize, all three authors tell stories. Stories with facts, righteous, scientific investigations, and a striking tone. Excluding Ronson’s book, hope is felt upon completion of reading. With Carr and Boyd, I felt like I was handed an opportunity to check my own relationship. Whether it be reexamining my fraught relationship with the internet (one that was changing my neurophysiological ), or alleviating the stress I had with such relationship, I left feeling profoundly influenced to enact change, or at the very least, feel comfortable with my current use.
Ronson left me with none. His word renders me fearful of the unintended result, the invisible hand teasing me as I try to pleasantly skirt through my time online. But in reality, who knows what is out there on you. Who knows what the consequences of your thoughts are, projected for all the world to see. In fact, who knows what your thoughts, say from 5-6 years ago, were. Were they stupid? Immature? Would you want the world to see? Does reading Ronson give you hope that it wouldn’t be taken the wrong way?
I imagine myself caught in a storm of my own doing. A tweet, just a tweet, the cause of this predicament. The content? Doesn’t matter. With all the autonomous voices out there, each unique in their dispositions, could you defend yourself? Ronson craves out a space in my mind and leaves it rung with fear and indecision. My already tepid relationship with the online world, now augmented.
But there no way to escape. I need this world. It’s no longer just a virtual reality.