The Mediated Life

One of my students in Internet Law, Leanne Gabinelli, wrote the following in a blog post for the class, and I thought it worth passing along:

Also, I think Facebook has also completely changed the social habits of the American Teenager. No longer do teens go to parties to see their friends — in my recent observations, teens go to parties so that photos can be taken of them partying, so that those photos can be uploaded to Facebook, so that the whole school can see that so-and-so is popular, social, cool, pretty, etc.

There is an old Prince song that has the line “they live lives like a tourist. My strongest memory of the louvre was the number of people looking at the huge tennis court of a picture ‘the raft of the Medusa’—- through a small camera view finder.

Color me skeptical of the implied claims that (1) teenagers did not formerly go to parties to be seen there, and (2) at current parties, teenagers spend more time and energy taking pictures without interacting than interacting without taking pictures. (Obviously, sometimes they’re doing both.)

But then, I’m biased against the Kids These Days Are Totally Different thesis for reasons beyond it always being wrong. It’s kinda always wrong, though.

Say, perhaps, that teenage party life has always been mixture of seeing and being seen—but that today, the “being seen” part is increasingly refracted through online social media.

We did not dress up and carry on in public in our day , we were very shy, we were, But, “Try telling that to the youth of today and they won’t believe you!”

The more things change .