“I’m an addict” and other sensemaking devices: Youth & Social Media

by Katrin Tiidenberg

The first “All the Feels” project takes a discourse analysis¬†approach to explore the interpretative repertoires that youth invoke when they talk about their own social media use. We began with these research questions:

  • How do people talk about any kinds of feelings in the users’ autoethnographic reports?
  • What are instances of (strong) emotional responses (e.g. surprise, shame, fear, anxiety, delight, happiness, contentment) in users’ descriptions of their own lived experiences through and with social media?

We collaboratively worked on this analysis in 2017 and submitted to the 2017 Social Media & Society Conference. Review copy here.

Abstract of the submission:

How do young people make sense of their social media experiences, which rhetoric do they use, which grand narratives of technology and social media do they rely on? Based on discourse analysis of approximately 500 pages of written data and 390 minutes of video (generated by 50 college students aged 18 – 30 between 2014 – 2016) this article explores how young people negotiate their own experience and existing discourses about social media. Our analysis shows that young people rely heavily on canonic binaries from utopian and dystopian interpretations of networked technologies to apply labels to themselves, others, and social media in general. As they are prompted to reflect on their experience, they begin to add nuanced yet inherently contradictory rhetoric of social media use and its implications. This reflects a dialectical struggle to make sense of their lived experiences and feelings against dominant normative discourses. Our unique methodology for generating deeply self-reflexive, auto- ethnographic narrative accounts suggests a way for scholars to combine micro-sociological tools with auto-ethnographic approaches to understand the ongoing struggles for meaning that occur within the granularity of everyday reflections about our own social media use.

This is part of a series of posts and updates¬†by members of the Aarhus University research team “All the Feels” studying the lived experience of youth and social media. The team is part of the larger Future Making Research Consortium

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