[Air-l] teens and myspace

Sue Cranmer sue at jcranmer.freeserve.co.uk
Tue Feb 28 11:14:29 PST 2006

Hi Nancy and others 

I think the answer to this has to be more nuanced. For an example, my
interviews with both families and young people between between 12 and 18
suggest that it depends on the application. For instance, use of chat rooms
is thought to be 'sad' due to the suggestion that you have no offline
friends of your own to talk to, whilst IM is 'cool' particularly having a
large contact list. Also, there's a useful chapter which touches on this in
Cyberkids - Sarah Holloway and Gill Valentine, specifically about how young
girls may perform gender by positioning themselves as being for/against
internet use (if my memory serves). I've seen this in my own research too.


-----Original Message-----
From: air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org
[mailto:air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org] On Behalf Of Lauren M. Squires
Sent: 28 February 2006 18:18
To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org
Subject: Re: [Air-l] teens and myspace

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

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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