Concerning the first half of It’s Complicated, I, probably along with many who read this book, share in the authors sense of nostalgia as she presses her argument on the networking of high schoolers in our technological age. I’m taken back to the days where I spent hours online role playing with friends or taking quizzes in class because everyone was doing it or instant messaging the guy I liked the second I got home just to have an “out-of-school” conversation with him. I find myself agreeing, out of these personal experiences, with plenty that Boyd has to offer in the way of teens being pressed for publics where they can interact with their friends on their own level. When I think about it, it’s true that kids these days do not have the same freedoms that our parents or even their parents had in their younger years. Gone are the small towns and home before dark curfews with only a vague knowledge of where the kids have wandered off to in that suburban safety mentality. However, the notion Boyd seems to argue that teens need this technological “cool space” from social media, that it isn’t nearly as distracting as we may think it to be seems a little farfetched to me.
I found the introduction of It’s Complicated extremely eye opening in this sense of how the “persistence, visibility, spreadability, and searchability” of content and information have not changed over time but merely taken up a new format. With these new formats though come complications, such as the book title implies, that can be tricky to get around but I applaud Boyd’s optimistic view of the creativity of teens. Certainly teens will find a way to communicate with as many people and friends as possible while trying to bypass the constant surveillance of their parents, but is that really all they use the social media for? Boyd even illustrates a situation later in chapter 1 in an example about the website “4chan” where young boys use the freedoms of this website in “problematic or destructive ways” (42). With all the freedoms of the internet and social media websites that can offer anonymity and a secure sense of invincibility, these outlets meant to afford the accessibility of material for teens then become publics ripe with other, more pernicious activities. As neighborhood playgrounds are intended to be fun safe environments for kids and adults to gather for social interaction, they can also be potentially rampant with predators, drugs, gangs, etc.
There is something to be said about context too, which Boyd elaborates on throughout the first half of this book. Though I believe that at any point in time people have constantly been taking the words, actions, or intents of others out of context, the internet sure does make it easier to do so. I include a clip of Trump singing “Closer” by the Chainsmokers as an example of just how easy it is to play with the context of anything. Trump
In the second chapter of Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated, there are many things discussed revolving around the privacy of teens when participating in social media. She speaks of two things that seem to go hand in hand in many cases: social steganography and the surveillance of parents. As she mentions, it has always been common that teens want privacy from their parents in certain aspects of their lives. The parents of teens today did not grow up with technology the same way that our generation has, usually causing them to want to be ever-present and all-knowing in their child’s life. Teens on the other hand don’t always want their judging, rule-implementing, and lecture-ready parents tracking their every move regarding social interactions. To combat this Boyd mentions, “many of the privacy strategies that teens implement are intended to counter the power dynamic that emerges when parents and other adults feel as though they have the right to watch and listen” (70). From this stems steganography where teens tend to code their messages by posting lyrics, sub-tweeting, etc. This made me think about when I was younger and in middle school or early high school and how my mom would look me up on social media to see what I was doing. I remember feeling frustrated not only because it was my page that I didn’t ask her to view but because there was no reason for her not to trust what I was doing. I was always safe, didn’t talk to strangers, or post things that could be deemed as unacceptable or inappropriate.
Parents seem to think that we don’t care about our privacy to the outside world or understand the dangers, but at what point can they trust that the way they raised us is enough and we will share what we want when we want? I found an interesting video in which Kelly Wallace from CNN discusses that her biggest fear is her children becoming involved with social media. This video was striking because she says at one point, “how will I possibly keep tabs on everything they’re doing?” as if in order to be a good parent she must know every single detail of her child’s life. She goes on to say that in reality parents might not even have a clue because of the ways teens have chosen to encrypt their messages. She gives an example about how someone might post a group photo but intentionally not tag someone as an act of aggression, something that would easily slip by parents viewing the picture. Her solution is to sign up for the social networks that the teens are on and befriend them. However, if teens go through such lengths to keep their parents from knowing what is happening on their social networks, where is the line to be drawn for privacy between teen and parent?
At this point you know the drill. Your task is to compose a post of about 400 words in to the first half of danah boyd’s It’s Complicated. As usual, please try to anchor what you have to say in a specific moment in boyd’s text. I’d also encourage you to note any points of connection or contrast with Carr that strike you as interesting or important. But, as always, the form and direction of your piece is up to you.
Well, except for one thing: In this post I’d like you to make use somehow of audio. Exactly how, I leave to you. You may decide to embed an audio file in your writing. Or you may decide to present your writing as an audio text—something to be listened to rather than read. The issue I hope to raise is what else changes when we are asked as readers to switch modalities, to process text through our ears rather than eyes.
Let me offer an example from a version of this course that I taught in Spring 2013 at Duke University. I’m cheating here a little, since the author, Leslie Hillman, makes use of both video and audio, But as she is writing in response to The Shallows, I thought it might be interesting to consider a moment when one of his Carr’s readers literally talks rather than writes back to him. Here is Leslie’s piece, “I’m Trapped in a Paper Case of Emotion” (2013).
Once again I will also ask you to read and comment on the responses posted by your group members. The deadline for your post is 10:00 AM on Thurs, 3/02. The deadline for your comments is the start of class on Fri, 3/03.
I look forward to reading—and listening to—your work!