In It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, Danah Boyd tackles issues of identity, privacy, and addiction within the realm youth online activity. Using numerous accounts, encounters, and examples of teens and their use across multiple online networking platforms, she draws conclusions of internet use amongst one of the most pivotal generations. While reading about Boyd’s studies on addiction, I was reminded of one of the many lists that I have seen on the popular site, Buzzfeed, which houses various social, online content relevant to today’s world. The list, entitled 26 Struggles of Being a Social Media Addict, seems to be a suitable and pertinent, albeit humorous, take on the issue of internet addiction that Boyd discusses in her writing.
The Buzzfeed list includes various situations that can arise for those people who are “addicted” to different social media outlets, the likes of which include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or even just texting. It uses different pictures and GIFs of references to popular culture that illustrate these struggles. The list has a light-hearted and sarcastic tone/feel to it, exaggerating and poking fun at these ridiculous “first-world” problems of people who are obsessed with online social media. Yet, it is one of the more popular lists because many of these situations are completely relevant to today’s time. I, myself, am definitely guilty of experiencing some of these social media struggles, like having an ideal following-to-followers ration, tweeting about my anger, and using an unnecessary amount of #hashtags.
In terms of relating to Boyd’s discussion of addiction, this list can be seen as exemplifying the oddities Boyd mentions about the use and abuse of the Internet. As she explains, the definition of addiction includes an “overuse” or “misuse” of a behavior, which in this case, is social media. The dangers of such an addiction are illustrated in this list, which conveys the shallowness that can arise from the overuse of these outlets. It might be seen as silly to be referred to by your Twitter/Instagram handle in real life, or to rather have a conversation online rather than face-to-face or on the phone. Yet, these are the realities for much of the teen generation that is so enveloped this type of online activity.
However, I really can’t be one to criticize. I’m one of those people who can’t put a self-timer or blocker on my computer/phone, preventing me from using social media during finals or other busy times. While I know that isn’t super healthy or ideal, I feel like I do so because I agree with Boyd’s point that humans are social beings and desire to be constantly connected with other people and their surroundings. However, because “addiction” has a negative connotation, there are some thin boundaries and dangers we must be aware of as the teen generation continues to move along and advance in this technological society.