danah boyd —
Online Reflections of Our Offline Lives

Steeped in the cutting edge of research around the social lives of networked teens, danah boyd demystifies technology while being wise about the changes it’s making to life and relationship. She has intriguing advice on the technologically-fueled generation gaps of our age — that our children’s immersion in social media may offer a kind of respite from their over-structured, overscheduled analog lives. And that cyber-bullying is an online reflection of the offline world, and blaming technology is missing the point.

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is principal researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder of Data & Society Research Institute. She’s also a visiting professor at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program and a faculty affiliate at Harvard's Berkman Center. Her books include Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media and It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.

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A woman uses her laptop in Istanbul, Turkey.

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Great episode- very enlightening for me as a parent of middle schoolers. Had previously read an article in Wired: Don't Blame Social Media if Your Teen Is Unsocial....It was a bit more snarky and judgmental but seemed to have some truths in there. Your perspective is very helpful. It's easier to blame the technology than face or change human behavior.

Thank you for sharing this conversation! I'm the young father of a young teen, and I've really struggled to understand how online media fits into her life in a healthy way, and how I should or should not participate in or monitor that life. I have a lot to think about, but I also feel relieved - less "scared."

As a mother myself, I completely get where you are coming from. I do feel that with our children today that we do have to really prepare them for the technology culture we are experiencing today. After seeing my daughter go through high school with the technology we have today, I felt pretty stupid but I did learn the technology just to keep ahead of her. I wanted to know what she was doing and what others were doing to her. Social media can be a great tool if used right and these kids today really do not understand the consequences that can happen with the social media. I would like to see more parents proactive in their children's life and analyze their situations, watch what their posting. Know what they post online is a reflection on how they are in person that just is not being showed. Social media is just a tool, a reflection is real.

I agree that social media reflects preexisting bullying, it is much more invasive and pervasive, with even global effects with much more powerful ramifications for the ego developing teen. Very few people ever knew that I was bullied in school because I started first grade at age 4 and was much more physically immature than my counterparts. I wanted to be in school and If my mother found out that I was bullied, she would have taken me home to my severely dysfunctional alcoholic family which was much worse. My early start at school lead me to find intelligent friends, advanced education, and great success in sports, whereupon I was able to break out of being a victim of bullying on my own without the world watching.

Boy, how can someone be so "well educated" and so totally uninformed about basic facts of brain and behavior science!?

This whole show is called "hand waving" in evidence-based knowledge circles. Nothing but a really ad hoc set of ideas and sentiments. how about some facts? duh...

Completely agree.

(1) Krista, I want to date you! OMG you are awesome!

(2) Encouraging hiring managers to be nonjudgmental toward the online personas of young adults is absurd.

Corporations ARE going to judge and discriminate based on what they find online about a candidate.

Wealthy individuals will be able to hire hackers to curate their digital footprint. Others won't.

I listened and I am perplexed as to WHY we have to use all this annoying technology ALL THE TIME.
Does anyone really need to use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook regularly? DAILY?

If more of us said "NO" to the tyranny...but no.
We accept it and the corporations are very happy that we do - and no, we can't stop the children - but can we adults put away childish things and live?
Life is short - we should be in the moment, not on Twitter.

There was no there there. Great topic. I hope On Being tries again with a more pragmatic speaker.

This week's interview was really fantastic, thank you. I wonder if anyone could guide me on this one question I had - toward the end of the unedited edition, Boyd mentions the work of Paul Willis, saying that his work shows that those who are successfully upwardly mobile *must* cleave their lives in two, from their original working class context to the culture and expectations of middle class life. This is highly relevant to me, and I wonder if anyone could direct towards a certain work of his that articulates this idea. Learning to Labor? Anyway, thanks, and many thanks to Krista.

This interview with Danah was soooo great! I appreciate and love how Danah puts humanity back into the internet and speaks of our responsibility as human beings on how to see and use the internet. On Being, I love you :)

I could listen to this conversation for hours! Loved the nuanced and rich consideration of technology in our lives and really made me think about how I will handle this as my young kids grow up. Also, I'd love more information about the technology sabbatical...

Krista: I follow your program as I get ready for and then head off to church for 7:00 AM Sunday Mass. Being a teacher, I found the most profound section of this, from all of your programs, between minutes 34 and 37 of this program: I stole this quote:
"How do you ask the question that forces the reflection..." all the more important with the current technology.
This is hard stuff, and I thank you (really?) for making my brain hurt!

There were many interesting points being discussed in this broadcast but what really caught my attention was the idea that what we do online will have real world repercussions either now or in the future. On one hand I kinda see why employers look at social media of their perspective future employees because what people post online might be a reflection of who they are, a glimpse at their personality and character. But on the other hand how are my most on facebook define what kind of employee I might be? The issue for me is that the public and private realms are so entangled online that people end up overstepping what is acceptable and post stupid things that they will regret later while potential employers, for example, overstep and assume that if someone posts something stupid than they are would not be a good employee even though the posts might not have anything to do with their job qualifications. The example given in the broadcast was about a kid from poor upbringing who applied to college and wrote an essay about how he wants to get out of his poor neighborhood and the gang life that it inevitably brings. The school's admission officers went snooping online and found many gang signs on the kids My Space page and assumed that he was lying in his essay. As Danah Boyd pointed out the admissions officers didn't consider the fact that the My Space page wasn't just public but it was also private and visible to everyone from that kid's neighborhood making it a matter of survival for him to display some sort of gang affiliation.

It is certainly true that kids shouldn't post stupid stuff (ignorant comments, pictures of smoking/drinking/doing drugs, etc.) but at the same time they are kids and kids are bound to do stupid things, why should they be judged about it if it has nothing to do with, for example, a job they are applying for? On top of that there are numerous gray things that someone could post and another person could misinterpret which again shouldn't held against the person who posted it. I never had to deal with an employer snooping on my facebook because a long time ago I learned to keep my identity online and my opinions separate because no matter how politically correct your opinion is you are still bound to offend someone. On the other hand I've know people that were denied employment because their facebook page had too many pictures of them "partying" even though none of the pictures were vulgar or offensive but the potential employer assumed that because the person liked to party they were unreliable which makes me wonder why what you do on your own personal time has anything to do with what kind of an employee you will be? THe person in question never had issues with past employers, always on time and the likes with former employer references available yet the person that was doing the hiring decided to assume things. Personally I think that this is ridiculous and that future employers, schools, or partners should not read too much into someone's social media presence because after all what we allow for others to see online could all be a lie at which point what is the point of looking?

This week I listened to an on being broadcast featuring Dana Boyd called online reflections of our online lives, she discusses the evolution of social media and technology becoming mundane aspects of teenagers lives, while also touching on topics such as cyberbullying, spirituality, and the role of parents in teens virtual lives today. I related to this broadcast so much because I'm an 18 year old highschooler/ college student that is trying to figure out how to transition from being a kid to being an adult and factoring in how big of a part technology has on my life is hard to explain to my parents. Dana begins by describing her childhood when she first encountered computers and the possibilities that it opened up to her in aspects to meeting people around the world and escaping her hometown before, as she eloquently puts, "everyone was afraid of strangers". I understand that completely I can't talk to my parents or friends about someone I met online without them freaking out about the person's credibility and warning me not to give out too much information. And I understand their concerns, there are those online that are willing to take advantage of the naive but just as well there are those online, like dana when she was in high school, who just want to go outside of their comfort zone and meet new people and discover new things. She touches on the topic of cyberbullying and says something about it that i had never really thought about in that context before. She says the internet is not making us racist, it is just making us more visible. Many people blame the internet itself for the rise of racism and cyberbullying, but as Dana brought up humanity was capable and doing all of this before, the internet is just making it more visible.

She also discussed how technology has become a way for teens to escape the strict analogous lives that adults have scheduled for them and i agree completely. My parents always pushed me to take honors courses in high school and to do pseo, which is how I'm here now, I know they want better opportunities for me than what they had growing up in Guyana but they don't realize how much stress is put on me. Shouldering their hope of me having a successful future, getting straight a's, joining the right clubs, etc. It makes me want to crawl in a hole and hide sometimes, instead of crawling into a hole I escape onto my phone. I love to read fantasy novels and it's one way for me to escape the stress of life and I also use it to connect with friends that have busy schedules. My parents don't like the idea of having friends too much or at least hanging out with them a lot and so a lot of times I'm lacking the freedom to go out and be with my friends so my phone is the only way to stay in touch. This same point is something else that Dana touched on, she says there's no point in having the freedom to go outside of your friend doesn't. Another point she discussed that I also relate to a lot is that parents assume that their kids can do everything because they have some aspects of technology mastered. I find myself on the receiving end of a lecture a lot for not knowing how to do something and I have to remind my parents that they never actually taught me how to do it, which to them isn't an excuse. Dana discusses the idea that parents need to guide their kids and ask questions that force reflection within kids that is productive, instead of judgemental. This idea made me think of our reading we had to this week and the relationship between the midwife and student. I really enjoyed this on being broadcast and was surprised by how much I was able to relate to it.

As a mother of a 14 year old I chose to listen to this podcast with the hopes it would validate all my fears around teen social media use and validate the way I talk to my son about it and limit it. It did neither of those things and yet I absolutely it! Danah's insights and perspective were eye-opening and will be so helpful in navigating this new world. I especially love her insights starting at 16:50......WOW! What a really check. Here's to less structured lives for our kids so that they can ACTUALLY socialize offline.