HANGING OUT, MESSING AROUND AND
CHAPTER 2: FRIENDSHIP
BY: NICOLE LLOY (BROOKS)
OVERVIEW OF CHAPTER TWO: FRIENDSHIP
The following chapter documents how social
media(s) are incorporated into today’s teen
friendship practices in the context of their
everyday peer groups.
This chapter also focuses on the role that
technology plays in establishing, reinforcing,
complicating and damaging friendship-driven
This chapter also discusses how social media
intersects with four types of everyday peer
negotiations: making friends, performing
friendships, articulating friendship hierarchies and
navigating issues of status, attention as well as
“SOCIAL MEDIA ALLOWS TEENS TO EXTEND THEIR INTERACTIONS
BEYOND PHYSICAL BOUNDARIES . CONVERSATIONS &
INTERACTIONS DO NOT END WHEN FRIENDS ARE SEPARATED.”
• In the 1980’s the mall served as a key site for
teen sociability. Today social media platforms
are the new site for teen interaction.
• Just as teens flocked to the malls because of
social restrictions, many of today’s teens are
gathering online because of the variety of social
and cultural limitations that teens are dealt.
PEERS & FRIENDSHIP
• Stanley Cohen writes “The young are consigned to
a self-contained world with their own
preoccupations, their entrance into adult status is
frustrated, and they are rewarded for dependency.”
• Peer relations of teens and children are structured
by a developmental logic supported by educational
institutions which are organized by firm age
• Children are brought into preschools, kindergartens
and elementary schools not only to learn but to be
immersed into social settings and learn how to
develop friendships with peers.
PEERS & FRIENDSHIP…
• Milner suggests “that teen’s obsession with status
exists because they have so little real economic or
political power.” Milner also argues that dating,
hanging out and “mobilizing tokens” of pop culture
all play a vital role in the development as well as
maintenance of peer status.
• Teens have and continue to assemble to social
media because these outlets represent an arena for
them to play out these means of status negations.
Such negotiations begin as early as the playground
and continue even away from the school settings.
• Teens use any and all available outlets to display
their social identities and interact with their peers.
Kids use these outlets to display their personal
tastes including fashion as well as gossip, flirt and
even harass other peers. While not all teens are
subjected or experience bullying, most will
struggle with “fitting in, standing out, and trying to
keep up with what is cool.”
• Teens may select their friends, however their choice is
constructed by the social, cultural and economic conditions
• Studies show that most American friendships are developed and
established between kids that are relatively close in age this is
because of how are school systems and other cultural forces
segregate kids by age.
• However, the chapter also indicates that most teens tend to
build friendships based on similar interests and values including
similar in age.
• Furthermore, social media theoretically allows teens to move
beyond geographically restrictions and allow teens to connect
with new people.
• Surveys of U.S. teens strongly indicate that teens use social
media sites to socialize with people they already know or are
“loosely connected with.”
• Teens often use social media to make or develop friendships,
however these friendships are developed solely because they are
friends of friends or acquaintances.
• While the dominant and normative social media usage pattern is to connect
with friends, family and acquaintances, there are however some teens who use
social media to develop connections with strangers.
• The desire to create connections with strangers is driven by specific interests
that are not supported by their schools. Or to gain social support by discussing
personal matters that would often be embarrassing to discuss with mutual
friends such as; going through puberty.
• Even though there are numerous teens who relish the opportunity to make new
connections through social media sites, this particular practice is stigmatized.
• Also, today the act of creating new friends online is criticized by cultural fears
that online interactions with strangers are dangerous and possibly provoke
sexual predators and risky online behavior.
• While social media has the potential to drastically alter the friendship making
process, most teens use these outlets to maintain preexisting connections, and
develop acquaintances into new friendships.
• “Small children often seek confirmation of friendships through
questions such as; we’re friends, right?”
• However, most youth friendships are never formalized or
verified except through unspoken social rituals.
• These rituals alter friendship practices through forced and often
public articulations of social connections.
• The articulation of connections in social media provide three
purposes; An address book, allowing participants to keep a
record of all the people they know. Second, allow participants to
control who can access and view their content. Finally, the
display of connections that occur on social network sites
represent an individuals social identity and status.
• However, diverse challenges are involved in choosing and
selecting friends because friends are displayed on social
• Teens may choose to accept friend requests from peers they
know but are not close to only to avoid offending the individual.
Teens may also exclude people they know such as; parents,
siblings and teachers.
• Teens also use social media sites to collect excessive number of friends.
Teens who participate in this act are referred to as attention seekers.
• Teens also use social media as a form of entertainment or competition
among friends. These teens are not interested in developing friends but
are interested in collecting friends because it is something to do.
• Mass friend collecting is just one practice of connecting with strangers.
Teens typically send friend requests to celebrities as well as popular
bands not in hopes of actually creating real friendships but because
Celebrities and Bands send frequent messages and VIP opportunities to
their fans/Facebook friends.
• Teens often send friend requests to everyone they know or recognized
however, no addition contact is made after the friend request is approved.
This act only adds to the awkwardness of the “friend request.”
• Typically, it is socially unacceptable to delete a friend that one knows.
When this act occurs, it is commonly right after a fight or breakup. This
act of deletion is done with intention to hurt the other person. However,
malicious deletions are common thought to be socially inappropriate.
• “A friend connection alone says nothing about its strength.
By accepting all acquaintances as friends, teens can avoid
offending peers who might believe there to be a stronger
• However, social media sites complicate this connection by
adding features like MySpaces “Top Friends” forcing Teens to
indicate whom they are closest with among friends.
• Typically, most friendship declarations occur verbally between
friends . However, girls tend to use symbolic accessories such
as; friendship bracelets and “BFF” charms and necklaces. This
symbolic practices are seen with elementary-school and
middle-school aged children rather than with teenagers.
• The process of articulating and ranking friends is one of the
ways social media sites take what is normally implied and
make it obvious. Causing rather turbulent situations in social
settings. When teens are already exposed and immersed in
drama relating to cliques and popularity. The problem and
main concern for these hierarchies is that they did not exist
offline but these features of ranking friends created them.
STATUS, ATTENTION & DRAMA
• “The issue of whom one is friends with, and whom
one is best friends with, is embedded in a broader set
of struggles over status among peers at school.”
• Teens definitely use social media to develop and
maintain friendships, but they also use social media to
seek attention and often times create drama.
• Social media provides another platform for dramas to
be played out. These platforms also provide a stage
for rumors and gossip to spread and can sometimes
escalate to bullying.
• However, while drama is an inevitable part of teen
life. Social media can fuel drama and complicate
interactions that are commonly already heated.
STATUS, ATTENTION AND DRAMA…
• Social media’s are also used to negotiate attention. Teens
use these channels to reassure their friends that they are
still thinking of them. So while, drama is common, teens
actually spend more time trying to preserve harmony and
• However, achieving status primarily through social
networking sites may not be viable, but participating and
being popular online can complement offline popularity.
• Gossip, drama, bullying and posing are completely
unavoidable aspects of teen’s everyday social practices
and peer statuses. However social media channels only
seem to heighten and alter the social dynamics
surrounding today’s teens. However, even though there is
a dark side to what takes place online, teens still seem to
relish the friendship opportunities that social media
• “Social media, and especially social network sites, allow
teens to be more carefully attuned, in an ongoing way, to the
lives of their friends and peers. Social media are integrally
tied to the processes of building, performing, articulating and
developing friendships and status in teen peer networks.”
• Teens value social media mainly because social media helps
them to build and maintain friendships with peers. Social
media also plays a vital role in teens ability to share ideas and
emotions with one another. Also to mirror and magnify teen
friendship practices. For example positive interactions are
enhanced whereas negative interactions are intensified.
• The youth will continue to experience their teen years as a
time to immerse themselves into peer-based status negations
as well as develop their social and cultural identities in ways
that are independent from their parents. However, today’s
youth is expressing these identities and practices with new
set of communication tools.