I experienced technology differently than the people I grew up with. I didn’t get my AIM screen name (a 90s-kid-rite-of-passage) until 2008, a whole decade after the movie You’ve Got Mail. My family still had dial-up when I started my first Facebook account. I got my first smart phone after I graduated from college. I was a latecomer to pretty much any social media or tech for the first 20-odd years of my life. And that means I was acutely aware, from a very early age, how technology made me feel.
Picture a kid choosing where to sit in the cafeteria. They see the “cool kids” at a table together talking and laughing, even if they sit on the opposite end of the room. Not having AIM at a predominantly white middle-class school in 2005 was like being barred from the cafeteria all together.
Maybe that’s why I’ve always been fascinated by how we use technology to communicate. I’m endlessly curious about how technology and social media make us act and feel. My intro to social tech meant I had the burden and privilege of learning about it like an outsider. Before I knew what linguists, anthropologists, or sociologists were, I was a 12-year-old… well, all of them. I still remember sitting perched on my best friend’s bed, asking why she used that particular song lyric as her away message.
I’ve never lost that curiosity. I want to know what people feel when they experience the world through their screens. I want to know how technology brings us together, even while it seems to separate us. How do we use technology and social media to say things about who we are and where we belong? How does it shape us, our relationships, and our world?
I think we are broadly aware that social media has changed and will continue to change the way we interact. For this blog, one of the basic things I’d like to explore is: do other people feel the same way as me?