Find sites where they create their own content allow these teenagers to form and express multiple identities not constructed by national boundaries
“ Transnational youth, youth who hold affinity ties and/or affiliations to two or more countries, are increasingly engaged in online culture that not only transcends geographic distances and boundaries, but has also become an integral part of their identities and social realities” (pg 284)
In Chapter 3 of Students Speak, Ana M. Martinez Aleman and Katherine Lynk Wartman try to get down to the bottom of Facebook- what it is, how students use it, and how it affects these students’ identity.
An initial online survey about the survey takers and their Facebook use was issued and 126 students from colleges across the nation responded.
Then, another survey was issued about the three common themes that emerged from the initial survey. These themes were agency (self-presentation), performance (how the users regulated their identity online), and relationality (campus communities and “student online interdependency”).
The second survey was taken by 321 students and new themes emerged. These themes included procrastination, addiction, differences in use based on gender, race, and sexual identities. From there, four students were interviewed about the above themes.
Facebook, amongst many other online networking sites, has begun to change the way people communicate, whether its with their best friend or their second cousin from around the world. Some worry that Facebook will replace face-to-face personal communication and also worry that a person’s identity can be misrepresented on such a site. Let’s see what Kris, Jordan, Teresa, and Matthew have to say.
Kris is a senior at a women’s college in the Northeast. She is an RA and also the GLBT secretary for her school. She is white and “identifies as a lesbian”. Kris began using Facebook her freshman year.
Kris likes to show her goofy side when deciding on a profile picture but also likes to show a responsible side on her page due to the fact that she is an RA. Kris states that she likes to friend her residents so they can have access to her contact information but makes it so they cannot view her pictures. Speaking of pictures, Kris also personally does not like to have pictures up of her drinking, despite the fact that she is 21. She says that you never know when the pictures were taken and could hurt future job opportunities.
The article explains that “Kris describes Facebook as a central part of campus culture” and finds it funny how it is this way all across the nation. She also refers to it as an “addiction” and recalls giving it up for Lent once.
Kris chooses not to list her relationship status or sexuality on her page.
Kris admits to “stalking” her ex-boyfriend on Facebook and claims that “stalking” allows for people to gain “information quickly and anonymously” without having direct contact.
Jordan is a heterosexual male attending a large university in an urban area in the Northeast. He is half Colombian and half Anglo-American. He is a sophomore and started using Facebook the summer before entering college.
He likes to be funny when it comes to his Facebook- changing his profile picture to reflect this and also putting up “fake statuses” just to get a reaction.
Jordan is okay showing his underage drinking habits through photos on Facebook but problems arise when his older brother, who also has a Facebook, shows his parents these pictures.
Jordan says that Facebook helps him to keep in touch with people he’s met on campus and says it is the “primary way” that he communicates with his fellow students.
Teresa is a Junior at a large university in the Northeast. She is Haitain and Argentinean and a member of the Latino Student Organization and the Future Black Lawyers Association. Also, she is heterosexual.
Teresa says she has to look good in her pictures and doesn’t not approve of pictures showing underage drinking. Even if she has been drinking, she tries to pose gracefully. Like Kris, she is worried about what employers will see.
Teresa admits to using Facebook ‘all the time’ and even uses it on her Blackberry.
She also started communicating with her current boyfriend on Facebook. She shows them as listed in a relationship and says ‘If it’s not on Facebook, you are not really a couple.’
Teresa shows her background by belonging to the groups she belongs to on campus. Also, she used to post flags on her page but says now that it is useless and that ‘Everybody who knows me knows I am Spanish.’
Teresa says that there is a difference between white students’ use of Facebook as opposed to colored students’ use of Facebook. She states that colored students are more conscious about what pictures they put up while ‘white students make efforts to appear with alcohol in photos.’
She admits to stalking Facebooks and says that through Facebook, she also can keep tabs on her boyfriend.
Teresa agrees that girls take more pictures than guys.
Matthew is a gay Black male and a sophomore at an urban university in the Northeast. He is on the executive board of his schools’ GLBT club and joined Facebook as a junior in High School while taking classes at a community college.
Matthew got a feel for the college campus culture early by joining junior year, which wasn’t typical for most High School students who weren’t allowed to join at that time.
Matthew says he wants his profile pictures to reflect his good looks and intellectuality.
He is openly gay on his Facebook page and says that some people don’t include their sexuality because they may not be “out” to everyone.
Matthew keeps his page open to those in his “network” but his pictures are “friends only”.
He uses Facebook as his primary form of communication and also uses it to promote events for his club, GLBT.
Also says though, ‘Even though everyone knows that everyone is on Facebook, and that everyone uses Facebook, it is probably not cool to like have a profile that is like …this person doesn’t have anything better to do than talking on Facebook all the time.”
Matthew agrees that women post more photos than men but could not see a difference in race relating to Facebook use.
2. Do you feel that increased communications across cultures via the Internet can inhibit cross cultural understanding due to a lack of face-to-face interaction? Does the way one presents themselves on Internet networking sites (i.e. myspace, zenga) affect cultural stereotypes?
3. Through their surveys conducted in the article, the author concludes that the students’ “facebook use is mediated by their racial, ethnic, and gender identities”. Do you feel this is true? Do you experience this in your personal facebook use?