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Growing up on Facebook

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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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Chapter Five Shaping and Performing Professional Identities: From Education to Employment

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Shaping and Performing Professional Identities: From Education to Employment

The movement from education to employment has not been a ‘linear’ transition for some time (Wyn & Woodman 2006), but it is still seen as a significant rite of passage for young people navigating towards the idea of adulthood. Getting a first job is a rite of passage that can signal new freedoms such as income and associated autonomies, but also new responsibilities like meeting the expectations of employers, paying taxes, and interacting with banks. For many young people, first jobs happens alongside education: casual and part-time jobs during high school, multiple jobs during tertiary studies, and undertaking more advanced studies (Masters, Graduate Diplomas, etc.) while working full time to improve career advancement opportunities. Despite these complexities and differences, for most young people there are two key educational milestones (experienced and/or anticipated): (a) graduation from secondary/high school; and (b) graduation from tertiary/university education. For many of our participants, it was this second common point of graduation—usually undertaken in their early twenties—that was especially critical for grappling with a ‘professional identity’. Twenty-six of our 41 participants were currently studying at or had graduated from university or some form of tertiary education, and all had finished high school or an equivalent secondary qualification. For some of our participants, impending graduations and the prospect of applying for jobs prompted episodes of revisiting the ←77 | 78→ways in which they were presented on social media, as they began to imagine how...

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