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Growing up on Facebook


Brady Robards and Siân Lincoln

Growing up in the era of social media isn’t easy. With Facebook now having existed for more than a decade and a half, young people who have grown up using social media can look back and see earlier versions of themselves staring back: nostalgic moments with friends from school, reminders of painful breakups, birthdays and graduations, posts that allude to drama with family, experiences of travel, and blurry drunken photos. How do we make sense of our own personal histories inscribed on and through social media? What are the implications for future careers, for public trust in social media companies, and for our own memories?

Growing up on Facebook examines the role of Facebook, and other social media platforms that have emerged around Facebook, in mediating experiences of 'growing up' for young people. Based on interviews with the first generation of young people to grow up with social media, the book covers education and employment, love and relationships, family life, and leisure (drinking, travel, and music). It touches on processes of impression management, privacy, context collapse, and control, and raises critical questions about the standards we hold social media platforms to, as they become the guardians of our personal histories.

The book will appeal to both academic and general audiences alike. Students and scholars in media and communications, the sociology of youth, and beyond, will find strong connections to the literature and acknowledgement of the methodological detail of the study the book is based on. The themes and issues covered in the book are also of broader interest, and will appeal to people who have themselves grown up in the era of social media, to parents, educators, anyone interested in how we look back at social media as a personal memory archive.

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Like all books, this book was only made possible by the efforts and contributions of more people than can be named on the front cover.

First and foremost, we would like to thank our participants. We spoke to 41 young people in Australia and the UK over the course of the project. Their words and insights have given this project substance and life, as they navigated nostalgia, embarrassment, and a few awkward moments as they scrolled back through their Facebook Timelines with us.

In the latter stages of the project, we were assisted by two colleagues—Benjamin Pinkard in Australia and Jane Harris in the UK—who worked with us to help with recruitment and to conduct a portion of the interviews. Thank you Ben and Jane. We acknowledge the University of Tasmania and Liverpool John Moores University for funding the initial data collection and some writing time and to our colleagues at these institutions for their support.

Brady would like to acknowledge Professor Andy Bennett, who supervised Brady’s PhD, where some of the initial ideas and approaches later developed in the Facebook Timelines project were born. We are also both indebted to Andy for introducing the two of us, and starting us on this research partnership and friendship.

We thank and acknowledge our various academic communities who contributed to the intellectual development of the work by listening, asking questions, ←vii | viii→and pointing us in productive directions as we...

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