Sociologist danah boyd’s long-awaited first book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, hits shelves today. boyd, who is currently working as a researcher at Microsoft, is one of the preeminent scholars of the way young people — especially marginalized young people of diverse economic and racial backgrounds, as well as diverse gender and sexual orientation — use the Internet, and her work has been cited often for her sharp observations and her overwhelming empathy for her subjects.
It’s Complicated is a passionate, scholarly, and vividly described account of the reality of young peoples’ use of networked technologies in America today. Painstakingly researched through interviews and close study for more than a decade, boyd’s book is an important analysis of networked culture you don’t want to miss.
In eight brisk chapters — thoroughly backstopped by a long and fascinating collection of end-notes — boyd tackles the moral panics of networks and kids, and places them in wider social and historical contexts. She systematically, relentlessly punctures easy stories about how kids don’t value privacy; whether the Internet holds special danger of sexual predators; the reality of bullying; the absurdity of "Internet addiction" and the real story of "digital natives" and the important and eminently fixable gaps in kids’ network literacy.
boyd is not a blind optimist. She is alive to the risks and dangers of networks; but she is also cognizant of the new opportunities and the relief from other social problems (such as hysteria over the presence of kids in public places; sexism, racism, homophobia and slut-shaming; the merciless overscheduling and academic pressure on adolescents) and the immense power of networks to enable advocacy, agency and activism.
Mark Betterson, a student at a High School in Florida, was suspended for 10 days after trying to stop another student from beating a gay student, a local news station reports:
“Mark Betterson says he realized he had to do something when he saw a fellow student throw milk in another’s face, use gay slurs, and then start to hit him. James Griffin, 18, is charged with battery. His alleged victim, 18-year-old Jonathan Colon, who is openly gay, walked away with bruises on his head. Many who saw the fight say it could have been worse if Betterson didn’t step in.”
Said Betterson: “Johnathan was just going to stand there and get beat up. And if I didn’t jump into it, it would have gotten serious. I was just trying to break up the whole thing because it’s just not fair for somebody to get beat up for something that he is." [via Towelroad]
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