[Air-l] teens and myspace

Lauren M. Squires lauren.squires at gmail.com
Tue Feb 28 10:17:33 PST 2006

Sorry for this long response, but there's already been quite a lot to
respond to!

To Nancy's main point - it seems there IS still some stigma to online
interaction that views it as not being entirely "real," even amongst
heavy users, but I'm not sure how far down in age this goes.  On sites
like Friendster or Myspace, people use them emphatically but then
often make explicitly negative commentary in their profiles, in
testimonials/comments/wall posts, or more subtle commentary through
use of ironic emoticons or sarcasm - to show that they *know* that
what's online is not their *whole* world, or at least not their whole
"REAL" world.  I'm thinking of Alice Marlow's paper from AoIR in
Chicago and what she called "authentic-ironic" as a kind of Friendster
profile: these are people who use the system but for
self-presentational purposes, also remain detached from it.

Whether this applies to people younger than and equal to teens though,
in addition to people in their 20s (my demographic), I'm not sure of.
I have a hunch that it does apply to some extent - but if it doesn't,
or if it applies less to younger age groups, it can have something to
do simply with saturation and integration, as Nancy alluded to
somewhere up in this discussion.  People in their 20s have experienced
life (however long ago it may have seemed, and however distant a way
of life it now feels) without the internet, without email, IM, or
Myspace.  People in their teens and younger, for the most part, have
not.  I would expect that to have grown up immersed in a technology,
rather than constantly working to integrate it, has a great effect on
how one then views that technology's relationship to one's daily life
and how one compares social interaction with/through it to other forms
of interaction.

Seems it also has to do with whether there's a sense of how connected
online practices are to offline practices.  Facebook, for instance,
seems to be very connected (rooted, even) to the offline.  LJ,
probably usually less so.

Nancy, you wrote: "Whether they were really stigmatizing their own
internet use, or were responding to a sense that they *should*
stigmatize it I don't know."  I'm not sure there's a difference.  If
you think you *should* stigmatize it, then it seems it's stigmatized.

The point about different applications is critical - for some groups,
LJ may not be a "cool" place to hang out online whereas AIM is.  Like
Starbucks is not, but the mall is.  And what you value (as Kevin said)
or what your ideologies are (as Joshua said) also depend on your
social networks - a particular group of users could think Myspace is
cool but (as Demetri Martin so eloquently put it on the Daily Show)
Friendster "got kinda gay."  So many variables.

Also, FWIW, there's much to look at with how Media's representation of
new media affects/reflects users' perceptions of it.  What other media
are young people consuming, and what does that media tell them about
internet spaces?  (Demetri Martin piece on Myspace, example case in


lauren m. squires
  lx: http://polyglotconspiracy.net
  cmc: http://sociocmc.blogspot.com

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