This New York Times article highlights the life and work of danah boyd, self-proclaimed “social media scholar, youth researcher & advocate.” What I like about this article is how boyd shares some of her personal experiences and how those tie into her work and philosophy — that youth going online is not only not necessarily dangerous, but can even be helpful. It can promote political awareness and advocacy. It can reduce isolation. It can save a life. In the article, boyd states that “At the age of 16, I thought I’d be dead by 21,” she said. “I lost 13 classmates to drug overdoses, suicides, accidents and a murder…The Internet was my saving grace. I would spend my teenage nights talking to strangers online, realizing there were other smart kids out there.”
To some extent, her story sounds exactly like the ones adults are terrified by — talking to strangers online in times of pain and trouble. But, for whatever reasons, boyd came out the better after reaching out to an online community.
I am around 10 years older than boyd, so did not grow up with an online world. However, she and I do share some similar experiences in terms of having a troubled adolescence. I wonder if I would have benefited from reaching out to others online, or if I would have been more representative of the general research which states that troubled youth are more likely to develop close online relationships and put themselves in danger as a result. Clearly, I will never know. But I do wish I had options to reach out to others when I was hurting most.
I have a Facebook account, and I have a cre8Buzz account, and neither of these make me feel as dirty as my MySpace account does. I don’t know why – they are all essentially copies of one another. Dr. Kris sent me a fantastic Venture Beat article about Why Facebook is now the number one social network in the world, and why this matters that absolutely validates my feelings.
Eric Eldon is able to sum my feelings up in half a sentence “MySpace is more of a place for people to live out their fantasy lives online …” while Facebook is more a site where you’re required to share “factual information” because otherwise, your friends from across the hallway Freshman year are going to call you out. Eldon writes about the lack of networks creating opportunity for you to create a whole new you unlinke the networking connections created through Facebook.
Reading through the comments on Eldon’s article made me think about words, too. How long ago did “friend” become an actual verb? Do you think that usage will ever be integrated into the dictionary? If you wanna friend The Virtual Mystery Tour’s dirty MySpace profile* head over here and add us!
While Eldon’s article then goes into specific numbers of hits, global growth and advertising dollars, the rest of the article doesn’t do much for me; however, it’s so very nice to hear yet another blogger vent about how dirty MySpace can really be.
*Dear Perverts who found The Virtual Mystery Tour’s blog but were actually searching for a “dirty MySpace profile,”
I apologize. We actually have a very clean MySpace profile.
Trying not to laugh at your Google-fu,