ICM 500
My beautiful LED rendered social world

My beautiful LED rendered social world

Internet connected devices have always been my best friends. They’re where my people are. They’re the most accessible place for me to be. They’re where I feel safe.

As a home-schooled student my social acclimation left much to be desired. My parents attempted to take me to scouts, guitar lessons, and sports activities as a form of enrichment; however, none of these captured the spark of a young Ava. Compounded by the fact that I am a super late bloomer, neurodivergent, later diagnosed GAD led me to not know how to form the best connections. The world felt like a dangerous place with my mother not even letting me cross the street to play with friends until I was much older.

Meme with top caption "Older folks: Why don't kids go outside anymore?" followed by "The outside by built:" pointing to an image of a busy road intersection with a pedestrian barely able to walk on a center concrete median

Despite all of my limitations there was one place that felt safe. Online communities of all shapes and sizes opened before me with outstretched arms. Social media options including from message boards, forums, instant messaging, centralized messaging platforms and decentralized communication servers all presented fascinating opportunities for connection. Where there wasn’t a perfect fit, I felt empowered to make my own including my best friends around our mutual interests.

Rather than fighting to reclaim the places and spaces that earlier cohorts had occupied, many teens have taken a different approach: they’ve created their own publics. Teens find social media appealing because it allows them access to their friends and provides an opportunity to be a part of a broader public world while still situated physically in their bedrooms. Through social media, they build networks of people and information. As a result, they both participate in and help create networked publics.

boyd, danah. It’s Complicated : The Social Lives of Networked Teens, Yale University Press, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/quinnipiac/detail.action?docID=3421382.
Created from quinnipiac on 2023-03-27.

Today social media platforms connect me with local events, help me keep in contact with my close connections, and offer me a way to reach out from the comfort of my own home. In my 30’s I choose to live alone via solo polyamory but it never feels lonely. Without social media platforms I’d struggle to connect as often as would be healthy for me to do due to my anxious brain and other health conditions that may make it difficult to leave the house some days. In fact, I feel lucky to be able to date a person who suffers from physical difficulties who may not be able to get together in person as often as I may like, because we can keep in touch through social media platforms.

Social media affords me and many others the opportunity to connect with others in a safe and accessible way. I’m ever-so thankful for my technical literacy and to be thriving in the world and the online communities we make together.

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