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STUDENT INSTRUCTIONS for Week 7
Here are your instructions for week 7:
Step 1. Watch the “Week 7 Introduction” video”
Step 2. Read Sherry Turkle’s “Growing Up Tethered” (2011). While you read, pay attention to:
What picture does Turkle paint of teens’ use of technology? Is it positive or negative?
What concerns does Turkle voice about technology? What evidence does she give?
Step 3. Read danah boyd’s “Introduction” to It’s Complicated (2014). While you read, pay attention to:
– What picture does boyd paint of teens’ use of technology? How does it differ from Turkle’s?
– Does boyd see communication via phone and social media as a new phenomenon?
Step 4. Watch the documentary Catfish (2010). While you watch, pay attention to:
– How does the film represent interpersonal connection via the internet and social media?
– Is the film ultimately about the perils of internet connection? Or is there more here?
Link of Catfish 2010： https://watchdocumentaries.com/catfish/
Step 5. Watch the episode of Black Mirror titled “San Junipero” (2018). While you watch, pay attention to:
– How does the episode represent digitally-mediated interpersonal connections?
– How do issues of what is “real” vs. what is “fake” play out in a variety of ways?
Link of San Junipero： https://www.ifun.tv/play?id=c4cQfPmipV2
Step 6. Watch the “Week 7 Lecture” video ”
Step 7. Write and submit your weekly reflection (due Saturday, May 16 by 11:59 pm). This should be an
original piece of writing, 500 to 700 words in length. Be sure to follow the prompt carefully and in full:
Prompt: Your reflection this week is in two parts. For each part, you will select one scene per
screening (of the two options per screening listed below) and analyze it, drawing out how the
themes and questions of this week’s course play out in the scene. Explain how the scene
engages with the topic of social media and/or digitally-mediated connection. Because these
scenes are short (about 2 minutes each) you will need to pay particular attention to detail. Give
evidence for your claims drawing from things like specific shots, visuals, music, lines, etc.
For part one of your response, choose one of the two following scenes from Catfish (2010). Pay
particular attention to the time stamps; keep your analysis within these times:
– 00:23:40 (minute 23, second 42) – 00:25:35 (minute 25, second 35)
– 1:15:40 (hour one, minute 15, second 40) – 1:18:08 (hour one, minute 18, second 08)
For part two of your response, choose one of the following two scenes from “San Junipero”
(2018). Pay particular attention to the time stamps; keep your analysis within these times:
– 36:45 (minute 36, second 45) – 38:30 (minute 38, second 30)
– 49:25 (minute 49, second 25) – 51:22 (minute 51, second 22)
Step 8. Read and respond to one of your peers’ reflections (due Monday, May 18 by 2:00 pm). Follow
the standard instructions for peer comments. Each comment should be 100 – 200 words in length.
Notably, the internet and social media play vital roles in the course of connecting people all over
the world. In modern society, it is easy for people to communicate with others, as well as build
diverse relationships regardless of the difference or geographical locations. Despite these positive
attributes, social media and the internet continue to open diverse doors to deception or fraud.
More and more people focus on taking advantage of others by tricking them with fake
personalities and relationships. In the documentary, Catfish (2010), there is the illustration of the
manifestation of this form of cyberbullying in which people pretend to be whom they are not in the
process of luring others into building relationships with them over online platforms.
Online platforms offer the opportunity for people to take advantage of others through claiming
identities that do not reflect who they are. Critically, in the documentary, the time stamps
00:23:40-00:25:35 play an essential role in capturing this negative aspect of the internet. As the
two interact, they get to know that the alleged girl they have been trying to build a relationship
with is not who she claims to be as depicted in the film. “They are complete psychopaths. They
are complete psychopaths. I’ve probably been chatting with a guy this whole time.” In the above
line from the scene above, there is an accurate representation of the concept of catfishing to
illustrate deception and fake identity. It is always impossible to be certain on the identities of the
people users interact with on the internet planets. For example, in this case, the boy in the
documentary might have been chatting with a man this whole time pretending to be a woman
behind the cover song.
As a society, we are past days of face-to-face communication. Technology plays a critical role in
the provision of numerous fast, as well as easy approaches to connect with and communicate
with others. Nonetheless, an intriguing question remains. Is it possible to compare face-to-face
communication to digitally mediated communication? San Junipero (2018) plays a critical role in
showing this form of communication, particularly in the Black Mirror episode. Digitally mediated
communication is increasingly becoming a common practice enabling quick and simple
communication. It offers the chance for friends to catch up through different approaches on the
internet platforms. More and more people tend to gain comfort and confidence in interacting with
others on online platforms. In this scene, Yorkie tells Kelly, “If you really met me, I mean if you
really met me, you wouldn’t like me.” In this line in the selected scene, 36:45-38:30, Yorkie
highlights the ease in finding love and appreciation on the online platform regardless of her sexual
orientation, which I believe would put her as a societal outcast.
Yorkie narrates the way digitally mediated communication enables Kelly to like her personality or
online identity without any confidence that the same would happen on face-to-face
communication or encounter. “Try me…there’s no point. Where are you? Houston…Carson City,
Nevada.” The approach highlights the role and influence of the digitally mediated communication
in enabling people to have relationships and interactions regardless of the geographical locations
and distances. Without the influence of technology, this interaction or relationship would not be
possible; thus, the positive influence of technology in aiding interaction or communication among
users in the digital world.
In Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost’s documentary “Catfish” young photographers Nev with a
Michigan woman Megan fell in love on the Internet, after several months of online dating, Megan
composed a song for the relationship to Nev as a memorial. Later, Nev found that the song was
copied from the Internet, making him begin to doubt Megan and even Abby, and set off for
Michigan to look for the truth, but when he arrived, he found out that Megan was a middle-aged
housewife, and her real name was Angela, everything was just her dream life constructed in the
virtual world. This is an excellent documentary about how people use social media to defraud
people with fake identities. In the scenes between 1:15:40 and 1:18:08, Angela, who used fake
information to deceive people, claimed that the image of Megan was actually her ideal image in
her fantasy. For example, Megan pretended to be a dancer because she dreamed of becoming a
professional dancer when she was a child, but she did not make it come true. She takes
advantage of social media to create a false identity to deceive others and satisfy herself at the
same time. When Angela uses the identity of Megan to chat with Nev, she will feel as if she is the
perfect Megan. According to Angela, even though she wants to stop once, the sense of
satisfaction and happiness brought by the false identity keeps her stuck in it. Social media is a
double-edged sword, though it shortens the distance between people so that even friends who
are far away can know each other’s recent situation, it can also make people try to use the fact
that people on the social media only see what you want them to see to satisfy their vanity, and
even cause mental illness. Social media is not real, but it is hard to get rid of the addictive
pleasure. We enjoy camouflage on social media, and we fear the reality. It is normal for people to
disguise themselves, and dissatisfaction with themselves is a driving force to move forward.
However, if this dissatisfaction does not let a person advance, but let a person fill up his or her life
with the disguise of social media, it is very dangerous, which may also be the source of many
mental illnesses. When a person creates an unreal beautified self on the Internet and hides the
real world, it’s like a duck paddling. The water is noble and elegant, but there is always
restlessness under the water.
Some people may say that the theme of this episode of Black Mirror titled “San Junipero” is
eternal life, but I think the theme of this episode is love, and it is not about how great and beautiful
love is, but about its fragility and hypocrisy. The most attractive and shocking part of this episode
is Kelly’s monologue on the beach between 49:25 and 51:22. She says that “ I was with him for
49 years, you can’t begin to imagine…you think you are the only person ever suffered” When she
excitedly telling Yorkie about her 49 years of love with her beloved husband, the heartache of
losing their daughter, and the missed opportunity to be together forever, the heartache makes her
unable to bear the beautiful life of the eternal world, how can a person with a feeling of grief and
regret to enjoy her life? At the beginning I thought it is better in San Junipero than in the real
world because in San Junipero, material interest is no longer an issue, we just need to love each
other. However, in real life, we always have too many things that we want to do but dare not to
do. We live for others’ opinions and material needs. But this scene made me realize that no
matter how advanced the technology, such love will never be replaced.
Please follow the guideline very carefully and write correctly.
If you have any question please ask me.
Please write as better as possible.
the social lives of
Published with assistance from the foundation established in memory
of Philip Hamilton McMillan of the class of 1894, Yale College.
Copyright © 2014 by danah boyd.
All rights reserved.
Subject to the exception immediately following, this book may not be
reproduced, in whole or in part, including illustrations, in any form
(beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the US
Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press), without
written permission from the publishers.
An online version of the work is made available under a Creative
Commons license for use that is noncommercial. The terms of the license
are set forth at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/. For a
digital copy of the work, please see the author’s website at http://www.
Yale University Press books may be purchased in quantity for educational,
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Designed by Lindsey Voskowsky.
Set in Avenir LT STD and Adobe Garmond type by IDS Infotech, Ltd.
Printed in the United States of America.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
boyd, danah (danah michele), 1977–
It’s complicated : the social lives of networked teens / danah boyd.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-300-16631-6 (clothbound : alk. paper)
1. Internet and teenagers. 2. Online social networks.
3. Teenagers—Social life and customs—21st century.
4. Information technology—Social aspects. I. Title.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
This paper meets the requirements of ANSI/NISO Z39.48–1992
(Permanence of Paper).
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
One evening, in September 2010, I was in the stands at a high school
football game in Nashville, Tennessee, experiencing a powerful sense
of déjà vu. As a member of my high school’s marching band in the
mid-1990s, I had spent countless Friday nights in stands across central Pennsylvania, pretending to cheer on my school’s football team
so that I could hang out with my friends. The scene at the school in
Nashville in 2010 could easily have taken place when I was in high
school almost two decades earlier. It was an archetypical American
night, and immediately legible to me. I couldn’t help but smile at the
irony, given that I was in Nashville to talk with teens about how
technology had changed their lives. As I sat in the stands, I thought:
the more things had changed, the more they seemed the same.
I recalled speaking to a teen named Stan whom I’d met in Iowa
three years earlier. He had told me to stop looking for differences.
“You’d actually be surprised how little things change. I’m guessing a
lot of the drama is still the same, it’s just the format is a little different. It’s just changing the font and changing the background color
really.” He made references to technology to remind me that technology wasn’t changing anything important.
Back in Nashville, the cheerleaders screamed, “Defense!” and
waved their colorful pom-poms, while boys in tuxes and girls in formal gowns lined up on the track that circled the football field, signaling that halftime was approaching. This was a Homecoming game,
and at halftime the Homecoming Court paraded onto the field in
formal attire to be introduced to the audience before the announcer
declared the King and Queen. The Court was made up of eight girls
and eight boys, half of whom were white and half of whom were
black. I reflected on the lack of Asian or Hispanic representation in a
town whose demographics were changing. The announcer introduced each member to the audience, focusing on their extracurricular activities, their participation in one of the local churches, and
their dreams for the future.
Meanwhile, most of the student body was seated in the stands. They
were decked out in the school colors, many even having painted their
faces in support. But they were barely paying attention to what was
happening on the field. Apart from a brief hush when the Homecoming Court was presented, they spent the bulk of the time facing one
another, chatting, enjoying a rare chance to spend unstructured time
together as friends and peers.
As in many schools I’ve visited over the years, friendships at this
school in Nashville were largely defined by race, gender, sexuality,
and grade level, and those networks were immediately visible based
on whom students were talking to or sitting with. By and large, the
students were cordoned off in their own section on the sides of
the stands while parents and more “serious” fans occupied the seats
in the center. Most of the students in the stands were white and
divided by grade: the upperclassmen took the seats closest to the
field, while the freshmen were pushed toward the back. Girls were
rarely alone with boys, but when they were, they were holding hands.
The teens who swarmed below and to the right of the stands represented a different part of the school. Unlike their peers in the stands,
most of the students milling about below were black. Aside from the
Homecoming Court, only one group was racially mixed, and they
were recognizable mainly for their “artistic” attire—unnaturally colorful hair, piercings, and black clothing that I recognized from the
racks of Hot Topic, a popular mall-based chain store that caters to
goths, punks, and other subcultural groups.
Only two things confirmed that this was not 1994: the fashion and
the cell phones. Gone were the 1980s-inspired bangs, perms, and
excessive use of hair gel and hairspray that dominated my high school
well into the 1990s. And unlike 1994, cell phones were everywhere.
As far as I could tell, every teen at the game that day in Nashville
had one: iPhones, Blackberries, and other high-end smartphones
seemed to be especially popular at this upper-middle-class school.
Unsurprisingly, the phones in the hands of the white students were
often more expensive or of more elite brands than those in the hands
of the black students.
The pervasiveness of cell phones in the stands isn’t that startling;
over 80 percent of high school students in the United States had a
cell phone in 2010.1 What was surprising, at least to most adults,
was how little the teens actually used them as phones. The teens I
observed were not making calls. They whipped out their phones to
take photos of the Homecoming Court, and many were texting frantically while trying to find one another in the crowd. Once they connected, the texting often stopped. On the few occasions when a
phone did ring, the typical response was an exasperated “Mom!” or
“Dad!” implying a parent calling to check in, which, given the teens’
response to such calls, was clearly an unwanted interruption. And
even though many teens are frequent texters, the teens were not
directing most of their attention to their devices. When they did look
at their phones, they were often sharing the screen with the person
sitting next to them, reading or viewing something together.
The parents in the stands were paying much more attention to
their devices. They were even more universally equipped with smartphones than their children, and those devices dominated their focus.
I couldn’t tell whether they were checking email or simply supplementing the football game with other content, being either bored or
distracted. But many adults were staring into their devices intently,
barely looking up when a touchdown was scored. And unlike the
teens, they weren’t sharing their devices with others or taking photos
of the event.
Although many parents I’ve met lament their children’s obsession
with their phones, the teens in Nashville were treating their phones
as no more than a glorified camera plus coordination device. The
reason was clear: their friends were right there with them. They
didn’t need anything else.
I had come to Nashville to better understand how social media
and other technologies had changed teens’ lives. I was fascinated
with the new communication and information technologies that
had emerged since I was in high school. I had spent my own teen
years online, and I was among the first generation of teens who
did so. But that was a different era; few of my friends in the early
1990s were interested in computers at all. And my own interest in the
internet was related to my dissatisfaction with my local community.
The internet presented me with a bigger world, a world populated
by people who shared my idiosyncratic interests and were ready to
discuss them at any time, day or night. I grew up in an era where
going online—or “jacking in”—was an escape mechanism, and I
desperately wanted to escape.
The teens I met are attracted to popular social media like Facebook and Twitter or mobile technologies like apps and text messaging for entirely different reasons. Unlike me and the other early
adopters who avoided our local community by hanging out in chatrooms and bulletin boards, most teenagers now go online to connect
to the people in their community. Their online participation is not
eccentric; it is entirely normal, even expected.
The day after the football game in Nashville, I interviewed a girl
who had attended the Homecoming game. We sat down and went
through her Facebook page, where she showed me various photos
from the night before. Facebook hadn’t been on her mind during the
game, but as soon as she got home, she uploaded her photos, tagged
her friends, and started commenting on others’ photos. The status
updates I saw on her page were filled with references to conversations
that took place at the game. She used Facebook to extend the pleasure she had in connecting with her classmates during the game.
Although she couldn’t physically hang out with her friends after the
game ended, she used Facebook to stay connected after the stands
Social media plays a crucial role in the lives of networked teens.
Although the specific technologies change, they collectively provide
teens with a space to hang out and connect with friends. Teens’
mediated interactions sometimes complement or supplement their
face-to-face encounters. In 2006, when MySpace was at the height
of its popularity, eighteen-year-old Skyler told her mother that being
on MySpace was utterly essential to her social life. She explained,
“If you’re not on MySpace, you don’t exist.” What Skyler meant
is simply that social acceptance depends on the ability to socialize
with one’s peers at the “cool” place. Each cohort of teens has a different space that it decides is cool. It used to be the mall, but for the
youth discussed in this book, social network sites like Facebook,
Twitter, and Instagram are the cool places. Inevitably, by the time
this book is published, the next generation of teens will have inhabited a new set of apps and tools, making social network sites feel
passé. The spaces may change, but the organizing principles aren’t
Although some teens still congregate at malls and football games,
the introduction of social media does alter the landscape. It enables
youth to create a cool space without physically transporting themselves anywhere. And because of a variety of social and cultural factors, social media has become an important public space where teens
can gather and socialize broadly with peers in an informal way. Teens
are looking for a place of their own to make sense of the world beyond
their bedrooms. Social media has enabled them to participate in and
help create what I call networked publics.
In this book, I document how and why social media has become
central to the lives of so many American teens and how they navigate
the networked publics that are created through those technologies.2
I also describe—and challenge—the anxieties that many American
adults have about teens’ engagement with social media. By illustrating teens’ practices, habits, and the tensions between teens and adults,
I attempt to provide critical insight into the networked lives of contemporary youth.
What Is Social Media?
Over the past decade, social media has evolved from being an esoteric jumble of technologies to a set of sites and services that are at the
heart of contemporary culture. Teens turn to a plethora of popular
services to socialize, gossip, share information, and hang out. Although
this book addresses a variety of networked technologies—including
the internet broadly and mobile services like texting specifically—
much of it focuses on a collection of services known as social media. I
use the term social media to refer to the sites and services that emerged
during the early 2000s, including social network sites, video sharing
sites, blogging and microblogging platforms, and related tools that
allow participants to create and share their own content. In addition to
referring to various communication tools and platforms, social media
also hints at a cultural mindset that emerged in the mid-2000s as part
of the technical and business phenomenon referred to as “Web2.0.”3
The services known as social media are neither the first—nor
the only—tools to support significant social interaction or enable
teenagers to communicate and engage in meaningful online communities. Though less popular than they once were, tools like email,
instant messaging, and online forums are still used by teens. But as a
cultural phenomenon, social media has reshaped the information
and communication ecosystem.
In the 1980s and 1990s, early internet adopters used services like
email and instant messaging to chat with people they knew; they
turned to public-facing services like chatrooms and bulletin boards
when they wanted to connect with strangers. Although many who
participated in early online communities became friends with people
they met online, most early adopters entered these spaces without
knowing the other people in the space. Online communities were
organized by topic, with separate spaces for those interested in discussing Middle East politics or getting health advice or finding out
how various programming languages worked.
Beginning around 2003, the increased popularity of blogging and
the rise of social network sites reconfigured this topically oriented land6
scape. Although the most visible blogging services helped people connect based on shared interests, the vast majority of bloggers were
blogging for, and reading blogs of, people they knew.4 When early
social network sites like Friendster and MySpace launched, they were
designed to enable users to meet new people—and, notably, friends of
friends—who might share their interests, tastes, or passions. Friendster,
in particular, was designed as a matchmaking service. In other words,
social network sites were designed for social networking. Yet what made
these services so unexpectedly popular was that they also provided a
platform for people to connect with their friends. Rather than focusing
on the friends of friends who could be met through the service, many
early adopters simply focused on socializing with their friends. At the
height of its popularity, MySpace’s tagline was “A Place for Friends,”
and that’s precisely what the service was for many of its users.
Social network sites changed the essence of online communities.
Whereas early online community tools like Usenet and bulletin
boards were organized around interests, even if people used them to
engage with friends, blogs, like homepages, were organized around
individuals. Links allowed people to highlight both their friends and
those who shared their interests. Social network sites downplayed the
importance of interests and made friendship the organizing tenant
of the genre.
Early adopters had long embraced internet technologies to socialize with others, but in more mainstream culture, participating in
online communities was often viewed as an esoteric practice for geeks
and other social outcasts. By the mid-2000s, with the mainstreaming
of internet access and the rise of social media—and especially
MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter—sharing information and connecting to friends online became an integrated part of daily life for
many people, and especially the teens who came of age during this
period. Rather than being seen as a subcultural practice, participating in social media became normative.
Although teens have embraced countless tools for communicating
with one another, their widespread engagement with social media
has been unprecedented. Teens who used Facebook or Instagram or
Tumblr in 2013 weren’t seen as peculiar. Nor were those who used
Xanga, LiveJournal, or MySpace in the early to mid-2000s. At the
height of their popularity, the best-known social media tools aren’t
viewed with disdain, nor is participation seen to be indicative of asocial tendencies. In fact, as I describe throughout this book, engagement with social media is simply an everyday part of life, akin to
watching television and using the phone. This is a significant shift
from my experiences growing up using early digital technologies.
Even though many of the tools and services that I reference throughout this book are now passé, the core activities I discuss—chatting and
socializing, engaging in self-expression, grappling with privacy, and
sharing media and information—are here to stay. Although the specific
sites and apps may be constantly changing, the practices that teens
engage in as they participate in networked publics remain the same.
New technologies and mobile apps change the landscape, but teens’
interactions with social media through their phones extend similar
practices and activities into geographically unbounded settings. The
technical shifts that have taken place since I began this project—and in
the time between me writing this book and you reading it—are important, but many of the arguments made in the following pages transcend
particular technical moments, even if the specific examples used to
illustrate those issues are locked in time.
The Significance of Networked Publics
Teens are passionate about finding their place in society. What
is different as a result of social media is that teens’ perennial desire
for social connection and autonomy is now being expressed in networked publics. Networked publics are publics that are restructured
by networked technologies. As such, they are simultaneously (1) the
space constructed through networked technologies and (2) the imagined community that emerges as a result of the intersection of people,
technology, and practice.5
Although the term public has resonance in everyday language, the
construct of a public—let alone publics—tends to be more academic
in nature. What constitutes a public in this sense can vary. It can be
an accessible space in which people can gather freely. Or, as political
scientist Benedict Anderson describes, a public can be a collection of
people who understand themselves to be part of an imagined community.6 People are a part of multiple publics—bounded as audiences
or by geography—and yet, publics often intersect and intertwine.
Publics get tangled up in one another, challenging any effort to
understand the boundaries and shape of any particular public. When
US presidents give their State of the Union speeches, they may have
written them with the American public in mind, but their speeches
are now accessible around the globe. As a result, it’s never quite clear
who fits into the public imagined by a president.
Publics serve different purposes. They can be political in nature, or
they can be constructed around shared identities and social practices.
The concept of a public often invokes the notion of a state-controlled
entity, but publics can also involve private actors, such as companies,
or commercial spaces like malls. Because of the involvement of media
in contemporary publics, publics are also interconnected to the
notion of audience. All of these constructs blur and are contested by
scholars. By invoking the term publics, I’m not trying to take a position within the debates so much as to make use of the wide array of
different interwoven issues signaled by that term. Publics provide a
space and a community for people to gather, connect, and help construct society as we understand it.
Networked publics are publics both in the spatial sense and in the
sense of an imagined community. They are built on and through social
media and other emergent technologies. As spaces, the networked publics that exist because of social media allow people to gather and connect,
hang out, and joke around. Networked publics formed through technology serve much the same functions as publics like the mall or the park
did for previous generations of teenagers. As social constructs, social
media creates networked publics that allow people to see themselves as a
part of a broader community. Just as shared TV consumption once
allowed teens to see themselves as connected through mass media, social
media allows contemporary teens to envision themselves as part of a
collectively imagined community.
Teens engage with networked publics for the same reasons they
have always relished publics; they want to be a part of the broader
world by connecting with other people and having the freedom of
mobility. Likewise, many adults fear networked technologies for the
same reasons that adults have long been wary of teen participation in
public life and teen socialization in parks, malls, and other sites where
youth congregate. If I have learned one thing from my research, it’s
this: social media services like Facebook and Twitter are providing
teens with new opportunities to participate in public life, and this,
more than anything else, is what concerns ma
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