Over the last week, I’ve interviewed 10 young people about their experiences using social media. Having studied the topic for a number of years now, I considered myself fairly up to date on apps and social media practices. But just as my friend and co-author, Amy, and I describe in our research paper from last year: Adults just don’t understand.
After spening significant time with people two generations different from me this week, please just let me say: whoa.
I’ve learned about new apps (I’m definitely checking out Vent) and phrases like “thirst trap” and “ho by association” (oh wow). And I’ve felt the intense emotional burden that young people are managing with their various media. As I’ve said in past, I’m SO GLAD I grew up before social media was a thing.
One of the things that especially struck me this week is something Amy and I having been pondering for the last year: The differences between purely consuming media and producing content. I asked all 10 people about their creation-type activities. Only a couple people described any production work (think: writing a blog, creating a web site, developing videos, etc.). Most cited it being too much work or responsibility, and that it’s kind of intimate to put yourself out there.
I’ve been thinking about why my blue musings (as my friend Stan calls them) have been fewer and fewer these last couple years. Certainly the busy quotient of my life has been off the charts between job hunting, job getting, writing, flying, puppies, etc. But it’s more than that. Since starting as a tenure track professor, I’ve noticed a shift in how my students and I are relating.
In my first full time job at Chico State, I remember how much my personal life came up in the classroom and how weird that was. When I realized how much students were consuming my social media posts (the public ones on Twitter anyway) and reading my blog, I started to clam up. It felt quite weird to be face to face with my members of my “public.”
So I empathize with young people who are reticent to put themselves out there with creation-type activities or even their own ideas. (I’ve talked to quite a few people who prefer to “appreciate” online content rather than produce it, even basic opinions. And if they do produce content, it’s for select groups rather than a public with whom they might interact.)
But for me? I miss this space and sharing ideas.
And there’s so much to talk about. Like I’m months behind on my annual new year’s goals post and there are SO many stories of Walter and Clyde’s antics to share. Annnnnd, I *finally* submitted my book proposal to some literary agents last week. Eeek! Stay tuned for more on that.