Week 1

Of the seven articles, I enjoyed boyd’s Making Sense of Teen Life the most because of how vividly she describes her research process and the emotions that accompany it. I think her research is important because it illustrates that the reasoning behind what teens—particularly minority and disadvantaged teens— post on social media can often be different than what we perceive.

The idea of examining social media through the lenses of only a white, Western, educated perspective comes up again in What have we learned about social media by studying Facebook? A decade in review. I was surprised to learn that Facebook has dominated social media studies as the main focus, and that American/ European social media sites are also overwhelmingly studied in exclusivity. I agree with the authors’ assertion that social media research should not be confined to the Western world because there are so many different types of social media users around the world in various social contexts that are ignored by scholars.

The article Context collapse: theorizing context collusions and collisions focuses primarily on Facebook. While it does mention other social media sites, the article primarily uses Facebook as the basis for its assertions. It only references Snapchat once, and doesn’t reference Instagram at all; granted, these social media apps had only been released a few years earlier than the article was published. Facebook’s privacy settings are much more complicated than Instagram’s (where an account is either private or public) and Snapchat (where you can only see someone’s content if they have added you back). I think that now the topic of context collusions and collisions would be more relevant to additional social media sites, because users may be posting things to these accounts that they aren’t posting on Facebook. Additionally, the “Snapchat Stories” feature was released in late 2013. Personally, I try to keep my Facebook as neutral and uncontroversial as possible because I have such a wide variety of people added, but on Snapchat, I can include more content that is potentially more provocative or unflattering, because I only have my closest friends added, and I know that the content is not permanent.

Additionally, semi-private Facebook groups, in my experience, have become more prominent and specific in recent years. The article briefly mentions Facebook groups, but I have noticed a surge in  niche, exclusive groups where strangers interact over specific topics and discuss sometimes deeply personal topics (like mental health or relationships) that they would otherwise not share on their public profile. I think this would be interesting to observe, because while Facebook’s primary purpose is to connect people that know each other, these groups introduce and can cause online relationships to form between people from all over the world who would have otherwise never connected on Facebook, reminding me of sites such as Tumblr or Reddit. The article compares Facebook to a wedding, where people from various aspects of a person’s life can interact; in this metaphor, the these Facebook groups would probably take the form of strangers with whom you’ve had potentially minimal interaction with sitting at their own table where likely none of the other guests can see them.