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If you have comments, please add them to the related entry on my blog. I have also written a response to the critiques of this essay. This should answer some of the confusions introduced by this essay. Leveraging ethnographic data, I have documented these dynamics in more detail in my dissertation: “Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics. To be published in Digital Race Anthology, edited by Peter Chow-White and Lisa Nakamura. There is indeed a change taking place, but it’s not a shift so much as a fragmentation. The picture is now being blurred.
And some teens are flocking to Facebook. I want to take a moment to make a meta point here. I have been traipsing through the country talking to teens and I’ve been seeing this transition for the past 6-9 months but I’m having a hard time putting into words. Americans aren’t so good at talking about class and I’m definitely feeling that discomfort. It’s sticky, it’s uncomfortable, and to top it off, we don’t have the language for marking class in a meaningful way.
For the academics reading this, I want to highlight that this is not an academic article. It is not trying to be. It is based on my observations in the field, but I’m not trying to situate or theorize what is going on. I’ve chosen terms meant to convey impressions, but I know that they are not precise uses of these terms. The bands began populating the site by early 2004 and throughout 2004, the average age slowly declined. Facebook launched in 2004 as a Harvard-only site. It slowly expanded to welcome people with .
In mid-2005, Facebook opened its doors to high school students, but it wasn’t that easy to get an account because you needed to be invited. As a result, those who were in college tended to invite those high school students that they liked. Facebook was strongly framed as the “cool” thing that college students did. This meant that many more high school teens did join, much to the chagrin and horror of college students who had already begun writing about their lack of interest in having HS students on “their” site. Facebook seemed to provide an ideal alternative.