[Air-l] where did you go, out; what did you do, nothing

danah boyd aoir.z3z at danah.org
Sun Jan 21 01:49:37 PST 2007

What do you mean by terrify their parents?  What are you referencing  
when you say that most teens engage in this behavior?

I'm definitely seeing most American teens doing anything to avoid  
scrutiny but that doesn't mean that their choices don't terrify their  
parents.  Amongst the more protective parents, _anything_ their teen  
does that is about social status management terrifies the parents.   
This creates a pretty bad cycle of deception and attempts to hide  
what's going on, much of which is "normal" teen behavior.  One thing  
that is definitely at play is that there's a LOT more surveillance  
going on.  Your teen-parent dialogue has been pretty much obliterated  
because parents aren't allowing their teens out without a  
justification... no justification, no going out.  Plus, the phone is  
there as a constant leash.

I am, sadly, finding that some teens engage in some pretty heart- 
wrenching activities to gain the attention of parents whose focus is  
elsewhere.  This appears to cross SES.  In particular, i've seen self- 
harm (primarily cutting) used for this purpose.  Anything to make  
their parents pay attention to them...  These stories kill me.

I've also seen plenty of teens who are genuinely angry at their  
parents (much of this seems to stem from divorce or violence between  
the parents); their reaction to this can be self-destruction.  I  
suspect that the reason for this is that the parents actually come  
together over the kid so when the kid is in crisis.. this motivates  
some teens to be in crisis.


On Jan 20, 2007, at 1:27 PM, Barry Wellman wrote:

> I am puzzled by the notion that most teens will do things to  
> terrify their
> parents. Are there data on that? Or is it just autobiographical
> projection?
> Speaking autobiographically, and from a distance of 50 years, I  
> suggest
> that most teens will try to avoid their parents' scrutiny.  
> Terrifying them
> would only bring more scrutiny.
> "Where did you go?
> "Out.
> "What did you do?
> "Nothing."
> is the title, of a book about teen-parents relationships. By Robert  
> Paul
> Smith.
> Published in 1959, which suggests that it was a general phenomenon  
> then
> for my generation. And still in print, according to Amazon, which  
> suggests
> some longterm relevance.
>  Barry Wellman, with fond memories for the Fordham Flames.
>  _____________________________________________________________________
>   Barry Wellman   S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology   NetLab Director
>   Centre for Urban & Community Studies          University of Toronto
>   455 Spadina Avenue    Toronto Canada M5S 2G8    fax:+1-416-978-7162
>   wellman at chass.utoronto.ca  http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman
>         for fun: http://chass.utoronto.ca/oldnew/cybertimes.php
>  _____________________________________________________________________
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