In#macy & Social Media The rela#onship between digital technology and roman#c rela#onships of today’s youth Sarah Boucher
"Young people are at the forefront of developing, using, reworking, and incorpora8ng new media into their da8ng prac8ces in ways that might be unknown, unfamiliar, and some8mes scary to adults" (p. 117).
History of Contemporary Da#ng • Contemporary da#ng and courtship prac#ces are a 20th century development • Emerged out of working-‐ class "calling" prac#ces • Supported by "the movement of youth from work-‐places to public schools, the development of school dances, and the independence aﬀorded by the spread of automobile • Current rituals are less formal and uniform than those of their historical counterparts
Modern-‐day Rela#onships • Romance is a salient feature of social development in adolescence • Teens learn about da#ng, in#macy, and romance from their friends and social circles • Teen romance and rituals take place both publicly and collec#vely • Da#ng and romance prac#ces and themes are a central part of teens new media prac#ces • "Using social media, contemporary teens con#nue to craM and reshape da#ng and romance norms and rituals that are now deeply #ed to the development of new media literacies" (p. 120) • Youth u#lize 3 primary technologies in their in#macy prac#ces: mobile phones, instant messaging, and social network sites
“Controlled Casualness” of Digital Communica#on • New media allows teens to meet and/or further poten#al roman#c interests in a way that might feel less vulnerable then face-‐to-‐ face communica#on • The asynchronous nature of technologies provides teens with the ability to deliberate and carefully construct messages that appear to be casual
Language of “Controlled Casualness” • Online communica#on supports the “whatever theory of language”, in which people are increasingly using more informal linguis#c forms to write and communicate • Casual online language is used to create an inten#onal ambiguity • Such communica#on is a “contextually speciﬁc literary prac#ce, acutely tuned to the par#culars of given social situa#ons and cultural norms” (p. 125) • The text cites Bob, a white 19 year old, who reported carefully edi#ng his grammar and spelling to give the appearance of an “oﬀ-‐ the-‐cuﬀ” comment • Public venues aﬀorded by social network sites (such as “walls” on Facebook) provide yet another layer of casualness and protec#on
New Media’s Role in Mee#ng/Flir#ng • Flir#ng via the online networks of “controlled casualness” promotes oﬄine mee#ngs and deepens casual #es to online friends • Networks are relied upon to do some of the veriﬁca#on work in online secngs
Con#nuous Contact • Technology mediates teens’ long-‐ term, steady, and commided rela#onships • The “always on” possibili#es of new media intensify teens’ high expecta#ons of contact with and availability of their signiﬁcant others • Much of rela#onship and emo#onal work is done through the usage of new media • Aﬀec#on is demonstrated through private and public media channels; such as intensiﬁed reciprocity in online communica#ons, exchanging digitalized symbols via text or instant messenger, and aﬃrming their rela#onship publicly via social network sites
Social Network Sites & Rela#onships • Social network sites are the embodiment of teens’ rela#onships • Friends are ranked to according to strength and seriousness of their rela#onship and commitment • Rela#onship status indicates dedica#on to their signiﬁcant other • Public messages and posted “couple” pictures further convey the nature of the rela#onship • Facebook Manners & You: hdp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iROYzrm5SBM
Breaking Up Online “New communica#on prac#ces oMen require that teens take a variety of steps to sweep up the digital remnant of a given rela#onship and to deal with access to and the con#nuing digital presence of their former signiﬁcant others” (p. 132).
Breaking Up Online • Breaking up online—whether through tex#ng, IM’s, or a SNS—is generally viewed as disrespeclul • The consensus views face-‐to-‐face interac#on as the preferable, more respeclul course of ac#on when ending a rela#onship
Breaking Up Online • For teens today, changing a public representa#on of a rela#onship is a normal part of the now-‐mediated rela#onships • Digital representa#ons of rela#onships on public venues ensues a public performance of breakups, showcasing individuals’ emo#onal reac#on to the situa#on • Public documenta#on of rela#onships and breakups indicate the need for valida#on and support from one’s peers • Breakups can be reﬂected passively, or displayed ac#vely
Passive Communica#on • Despite the demise of a rela#onship, teens oMen s#ll inhabit the same networked publics, and thus retain an indirect channel to monitor each other and communicate aMer breaking up • Teens can passively communicate through their online proﬁles and presence
Privacy & Boundaries • Digital communica#on circumvents geographic and ins#tu#onal constraints, providing teens with a sphere of privacy to communicate with their signiﬁcant others • However, it requires a nego#a#on of new boundaries and spheres of privacy in one’s in#mate rela#onships due to the expecta#ons of high contact it creates and the amount of personal informa#on shared
Vulnerability • New media allows teens to manage their emo#onal vulnerability (i.e. controlled casualness) • However, new media also makes youth more suscep#ble to the sharing of informa#on about them outside of their control
Conclusion • For teenagers today, par#cipa#ng in the mediated world of technology is essen#al to being part of an oﬄine social world • Youth are developing new kinds of social norms and literacies through the rela#onal and emo#onal prac#ces of digital technologies • This peer-‐based learning is signiﬁcantly changing how in#mate communica#on and rela#onships are structured, expressed, and publicized