Reflections on a podcast: Teens practicing everyday life on social media

Krista Tippett interviews danah boyd about the online worlds of teenagers in the context of communication and social interaction. Danah’s self-introduction in this podcast is followed by the striking discussion about the spirituality of social media and the meditating effect of blogging, twenty years ago, when technology and interfaces had not been mature enough to engage the “blogging activity”. Back in 1997, danah narrates, a simple web page had been the medium of keeping track of events and practicing everyday life. Later on, “digital diaries” gradually took the shape of blogs. As the transition era has begun since the Internet made its appearance, every generation involved perceives the usability and the profits or the menaces of technology in different ways. For instance, younger individuals take most of the technological achievements for granted.

Kids wonder how the internet was found!

Although some of us have experienced the long waiting in front of our computer screens watching anxiously the bright data package exchange between the grayish computers and the yellowish phone, annoyed by the dial-up beeping, children and teenagers today consider our times of digital suffering to be a bad fiction, parody-like production!

If you have the time to watch the video about teens’ reactions to the internet of the 90s and read the comments, as well, you would probably notice that most people arguing that kids used to hang out more, play outdoors and interact in person. Nowadays, according to danah, children should be supervised when playing at the park and in some countries it is illegal to leave one’s kids unattended in public outdoors space.

Internet mirrors society and magnifies any malfunctioning structures of the real world, which should be redefined before getting transferred online.

Nevertheless, real world dangers have been transferred in our virtual worlds as well; cyber-bullying would not have existed if bullying had been eliminated in the first place. On the contrary, internet has catapulted the drama, by encouraging behaviors such as self-bullying, because of the need for attention among younger individuals.

  • Technology is changing the nature of what is public and private.
  • Technology is transforming the narrative of our lives.

I partly disagree with the fact that children should be warned about the long-term consequences of publicly expressing themselves on social media, by fear that their future employers would not hire them. For being young and spontaneous? This would be a great opportunity to prepare the youth to deal with society, its structures and transparent rules.

People, chill out! What happens online, stays online… FOREVER!

I am not a parent yet, but I believe that family is the first bond and gate towards social structures, so encouraging young people to develop their interpersonal skills is very important. In addition, past is related to our present and helps form our future; it is significant to remind children to be proud of their achievements and learn from their mistakes. Undoubtedly, human cultures and identities are emerging within the virtual era that gives plenty of perspectives in matters of information and communication.

Transformed communications

There has been a remarkable point on the podcast, concerning the manipulation of spelling and the increase of textualized interactions, both deriving from practicing social media and introduced by young people. Acronyms and abbreviations have replaced whole phrases, in order to type less and navigate/multitask more. Inspired by early chatters and then gamers, this trend expanded through communities and got rapidly popular among students. It seems to be a miracle how technology shapes the mechanisms of expression leading creativity into a new dimension.

Networked classes and human purposes

Making connections and be part of a network apparently does not mean that we could bring all our contacts into our profile and grow a network where all family, friends and colleagues interact with each other. NO! A network should be interest-driven and have a primary goal to be formed. It could be an expectation to get an improved social status, a better job and new friends. And by all means, that network should reflect our popularity and participatory skills, so no more skipped posts, likes and comments if we want to succeed. Furthermore, it could be an alternative network that we can start building up when we get fed up with our old one. Golden had been the age of nokia mobile phones and their innovative settings of registering one’s contacts into different groups with different roles assigned; ringtones and blocking content permissions. This privilege keeps on being offered twenty years later in every social interface.

No offence, I understand that some people get tired of the urban daily life and need a break; personally, I respect my own privacy as others’ and I consider it to be a basic need, but not to the extend that I would isolate my contacts, or ditch them for the sake of class mobility.

Some of the most sensitive and fragile issues concerning humanity have been simplified and underestimated. Same time we worry about how the new generations could adopt morality and appreciate the balance in values and intentions.

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