Archives for : impact

“It’s Complicated” by Danah Boyd Review

For the past four days I’ve been reading “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens”  by Danah Boyd. She is currently giving away free online copies of her book here.

I feel this book’s intended audience are adults, adults who typically don’t comprehend teenagers’ use of the internet. I would say about 2/3 of this book is dedicated to those adults that continue to misunderstand us. However, the other 1/3 remaining is dedicated to us young adults struggling to maintain our digital presence in the ever evolving social media we encounter. It gave me a greater insight on many of the social implications of interactions we perform online, some things that I would never think about and I bet most young adults don’t even think about when interacting online.

I like the extensive field work she has done throughout the United States. Boyd has interviewed many young adults about their opinion on social media and the way they use it in their daily lives. However, I feel like the book would’ve benefitted from surveying young adults in less economically developed countries because many of the situtations described aren’t applicable outside the United States or Canada.

In her book, Boyd points out that teens reject profile requirements in these sites because they refuse to portray themselves like these sites want them to. Teens don’t really pay attention to these requirements because for the most part the people they will be interacting with are their own peers who know them well. Boyd explains that social media are extensions of social interactions are therefore NOT ways in which teens hide from the outside world, rather they use it as a way to further extend their relationships.

Boyd looks into social issues of racial and ethnic inequality. Many people assume that the internet and social media would blur these divides in society. However, the truth is that when teens participate online they are reproducing their race based dynamics. In her chapter “Inequality” Boyd says “Although thechnology makes it possible in principle to socialize with anyone online, in practice, teens connect to the people that they know and with whom they have most in common” to signal this further division and racial and ethnic inequality of those participating in social media.

Boyd presents the idea of being in public and being public. I believe this is an idea to always keep mind. Most adults think that teens need to be part of social media is because they want attention. However, teens use social media to interact with others in a more selective way not really crying out for approval from their peers. By deciding what to post and what not to post online, teens are demonstrating a side of them without revealing their entire self, this is where they separate their digital identity and true self . Many adults claim that teens are “addicted” to social media. Having said that, Danah draws attention to the fact that constant interaction through social media for teens is a highly social behavior. Teens aren’t addicted to the components of social media but they are rather addicted to one another.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Boyd’s book on the way young people like me interact with social media. Many of the passages and interviews she did with teens make her book relatable and demonstrate concrete evidence of her explanations. I would definitely recommend this book for any one trying to understand teens’ interactions online or for a course like this one.


And to those adults out there still not understanding our constant need of the internet and social media: Go out and buy this book and OH YES IT IS COMPLICATED YOU HAVE NOOO IDEA.


TEDxEunji ;)

Today we talked about the impacts the internet has had in our lives that be it socially, culturally or economically. This panel reminded me of one of the TED talks I watched as part of my FSEM last semester.

This TED talk is called “Txtng is killing language. JK!!” by John McWhorter. McWhorter is a professor at Columbia University and has contributed to extensive works in the fields of linguistics and politics and how these are affected by race.
I highly recommend you watch his talk which I have provided a link to above. It is not very long. Also, the funny and relaxed atmosphere he creates while communicating his ideas at his TED talk, is the one I hope to be able to attend in the future (yes, it is one of my lifelong goals to a attend a TED talk, ANY talk).

In class today, we were talking about the wink ;) involved in texting. When people use the wink face when texting it has other connotations than simply an innocent wink. This got me thinking about the lack of tone and other aspects of face to face conversation that texting lacks. People use emojis (like the wink), the word “lol”, or a period at the end of a very brutal statement to give written speech, face-to-face conversational characteristics. In this TED talk, McWhorter describes texting as fingered speech. He further discusses what we were talking about in class today and the whole wink emoji. The internet is helping us change our forms of interaction and by doing so are also shaping these forms. McWhorter further supports the evolution of texting by saying that ” Increasing evidence is that being bilingual is cognitively beneficial. That’s also true of being bidialectal. That’s certainly true of being bidialectal in terms of your writing. And so texting actually is evidence of a balancing act that young people are using today, not consciously, of course, but it’s an expansion of their linguistic repertoire.”

We are shaping the ways we communicate with people. We try to incorporate a tone in our texting in order to imitate it the way we would say that same thing in person. We are shaping the internet and technology phenomena no more than it is shaping us and our lives!!



The place I call home is…

You might not all know this but I’m an international student at UMW. I moved here 7 months ago. The place I call home is Honduras, its where I was born, where I grew up and where my family and friends live. Unlike many of the people I have met here, they live around 1 to 3 hour drive from school meaning they can visit their family on the weekends if they would like to. The only times I get to see my family are over Christmas break and hopefully around 3 weeks this summer.

The main form of contact I maintain with my family and friends is WhatsApp. I text my family and Honduran friends through the use of this application on my phone. To many, it doesn’t sound like a way that the internet has had an impact on me, but you have to understand that I don’t get to see these key people in my life as much as I would like to.
In WhatsApp I have various groups with my family and my friends. It is our way to keep ourselves updated on whats happening around us. One of my groups in WhatsApp is made up of my extended group of friends, here we are constantly updating each other on random things. Most of my friends here study in the US, and it is through here how we tell the way our college lives are coming to be. For example, one of my friends is studying in LA and she told us about the earthquake as soon as it happened and how scared she was. WhatsApp is a way for us to feel safe and support each other in the new chapter of our lives.
In the WhatsApp group with my dad, mom, and my brother they are always telling me what they are up to and they’re constantly sending me pictures of their Sunday lunches (a tradition in my family since we are always so busy to eat together during the week, that we made it obligatory to go to lunch on Sundays) they are the best and we always enjoy them. They are also letting me know how business is going and how the rest of my family is doing. I update my family on my academics and any struggles I might have at school in the US.

Given my situation the place I should call home would be the internet, its the place where I remain in contact with the people I love and have stuck with me throughout the years.

screenshot wa fam


Here is a screenshot from my family’s WhatsApp group. My brother got 2nd place in a golf tournament a couple of weeks ago and he posted a picture of the things he won. You can see my mom saying “I love you” in Korean to my brother and my dad telling him “My champ” in Spanish and me telling him I’m proud of him in English. Even though we are using 4 different types of communicating with one another: Korean, Spanish, English and media, we are all supporting my brother through this WhatsApp group. As I said it doesn’t matter where we are or the way we say it, WhatsApp helps me maintain my relationship with my living family stronger than ever.