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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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Chapter Eight Documenting Leisure: Partying, Travel, Music, and Hanging Out


Documenting Leisure: Partying, Travel, Music, and Hanging Out

‘Drinking never stops’, Mary (27) remarked as we were scrolling back through her Facebook Timeline. ‘It’s a common theme’ she announced jokingly with a wry smile as we skimmed over another photo of her with her friends, a drink in hand. Looking back over the interview transcript with Mary—a finance worker in Tasmania, Australia—there were a lot of references to drinking: ‘More drinking … an awful lot of drinking back then … more drinking … drunken night’. Mary acknowledged that a lot of her social activities revolved around or at least included the consumption of alcohol, and it made sense that these activities and events were the ones that came to be posted on Facebook. These were times spent with friends, relaxing, having fun, when people were likely to take photos and share them.

The documentation and ‘performance’ of leisure time is central to the spectacle of social media. In one reading, this might distort our view of the people around us, making it seem like the people we follow on social media are always out, having fun, drinking, travelling, but of course these are the times people are most likely to document and make visible in networked publics. There’s an aspect of the presentation of Goffman’s (1959) idealised self here (see Chapter Three), but there is also a process of recording the good times as set apart from the mundane and everyday. In this sense, recording and later...

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