Thoughts on Danah Boyd’s Book Talk “It’s Complicated”

One of my assignments for my class this week was to watch a video about social media and technology guru, Danah Boyd, discuss her book, It’s Complicated, at a Washington D.C. bookstore.

In the video, Danah discusses how she became interested in social media, her story about researching for the book, how it got started, reading passages from her book and why they resonated with her, and then followed by a Q&A from the audience. Below is the video of her talk if anyone is interested–I highly recommend watching it as Boyd offers insightful ideas about social media. Below I will offer my thoughts on her talk and reflect my own ideas of social media regarding Boyd’s book.

I want to point at that the focus of her book highlights how teenagers use social media. The purpose of It’s Complicated  is how to guide and tackle social media–and this is directed towards the parents of teens using social media. Boyd uncovers how teenagers use social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, and uses her extensive research by interviewing teenagers to discard the myths that parents and society think teenagers respond to social media.

Below, I’ll list keypoints from the talk that Boyd discusses:

  • Boyd addresses fears and anxieties of teens using social media
  • Why do kids seem so strange using the Internet?
    • Addiction? Bullying?
  • Challenges hopeful messages
    • Ex. idea that young people are digitally-native
  • Help people grasp what is going on
  • What kinds of pressure have we created in America society where this (social media) becomes the key relief value?
  • Technology makes a teenagers’ life more visible–a blessing and a curse
  • Appreciate young people, not fear for them.

Those are some of the things she talks about. Below, I reflect on two key examples that she pulls out from her book:

  1. Going to a football game, Boyd observes that mostly all the teenagers were focused on their phones, and not the game. Teens are taking selfies/pictures and texting. They are there to socialize, gossip, and flirt. Boyd sees that adults get frustrated because they want to connect with their teen, but they are engaged with their phones.

Boyd says that phones connect friends together. When they are with their friends, phones are not present. But, social media allows a space for friends to connect when they are not physically together. It’s a place where they know that they can find their friends, a safe environment. And I think that’s an allure to technology and social media. I’m certainly not a teenager  anymore, but as a young adult in my twenties, I definitely see social media in a positive light. For me, I make social media my own, personal space. I have personal social media accounts that I use regularly. And yes, social media is a great way to connect to my friends who I don’t see very often, because our lives are so different now and busy. Social media is also a space for me to to just write my thoughts, rant, and vent (mostly about pop culture!) I mostly use Twitter, and don’t use Facebook that much because it can be too stuffy. I think it’s all about how you make the social media experience to your own use. Make it a positive one!

2.  Another passage Boyd reads is she wrote about a girl who broke up with her boyfriend. She wanted to reach out on social media to her friends on Facebook and let her friends know what was going on with her. But, her mom is on Facebook and sometimes takes her posts out of context. What the girl did was post something in a subtle way that only her friends can understand, and not her mom. She posted song lyrics from a movie that she recently saw with her friends. Her mom commented that it was such a happy post, while the friends texted her right away.

This is a demonstration of being private in a public atmosphere. Parents want to know what teens are doing on social media, but the issue is privacy. The girl was able to convey her message to her friends. It makes me think–have I ever posted something that sounded cryptic or not intentional? It makes me wonder that, yes, sometimes we see something on social media that’s strange to us, but the meaning that we perceive from it can be entirely different of what that person was actually trying to say. I can see that social media comes with fear and anxiety because once you post something, it’s out there forever and for everyone to see. It’s all about being smart with what we post and who can see it–something to keep in mind

Those were the big takeaways from Danah Boyd’s book talk of It’s Complicated. Again, I recommend watching the video above. Thanks for checking out my first post! Stay tuned for more thoughts on social media and posts later this week!


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