[Air-l] teens and myspace

Fred Stutzman fred at metalab.unc.edu
Tue Feb 28 18:41:19 PST 2006

I agree - this has been very interesting.

Lately I've been forming thoughts about the type of socializing teens are 
doing in social network communities (SNC's), and I've stumbled upon an 
interesting (anecdotal) insight.  Teens spend an enormous amount of time 
"managing" social interaction in SNC's.  That is to say rather than 
transposing their social existence into services like MySpace and Facebook, 
they augment their social existence with a level of micro-management never 
available before.  With an entire network of hundreds of "friends" at their 
fingertips, and always-on communication tools like Instant Messenger and 
SMS for connection, the perceived need to manage relationships is 
never-ending.  To be a good Facebook friend, you've got to answer your 
messages, post to your friend's walls, and return pokes; these extensions 
of the service have become part of the normal social interaction.

The situation is compounded on both ends.  As inherently-curious students 
have the ability to deeply explore and manage their social networks, the 
upstart culture of the services impose good usage rules.  The inordinate 
amount of time students spend in SNC's may be a side effect of the "new 
rules" required to be a good "MySpace/Facebook/etc" friend.  Just as we 
occasionally have that sort-of-uncomfortable "did you get my email?" 
interaction, students are constantly having having to worry about who is 
poking, messaging, and responding to whom, and juggling the status of their 
virtual social interaction(s).  To conclude, I'm really not surprised that 
students feel a sense of relief when they leave social networks; the 
cognitive load of always-on social management might be very high.  I'd 
wonder what percentage of students view these services as high-stress, 
virtual monkeys on their backs.  I kid, but maybe not - if I had to spend 
three hours a day on a website to satisfy all my social requirements, it 
might get to me as well.


On Tue, 28 Feb 2006, T. Kennedy wrote:

> I don't believe that teens problematize their internet use (whatever the
> weapon of choice/fad may be) the way that we are in this conversation. Many
> teens - if not most - have always had internet (within a certain demographic
> of course) - it's a part of their lives; it's ubiquitous - it's invisible;
> it's part of their domestic ensemble - much like the telephone, tv, and so
> forth.

Fred Stutzman
AIM: chimprawk

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