The it’s complicated review below, by Michael Simon, was posted on the Amazon site. While many of us may not agree with everything in the review, it makes for compelling reading. Larry Kahn wrote to Simon, asking permission to republish his piece as a blog post here on ISEN. Simon is a marriage and family therapist, and you can connect with him at @supportingteens, and [email protected].
It sure is complicated.
Spoiler Alert: As a psychotherapist, school counselor and educator, having spent much of my adult life working with teens and families, I have some serious problems with “It’s Complicated.” The main problems: This book was written by a researcher who neither takes a political stand on an inherently political issue nor does she make clear her biases in analysis of the “data” under consideration. In the end, the book suffers from a kind of blindness about what’s right in front of her–that the impact and bi-directional effects of social media in the lives of our teens may not (and cannot) be seen for decades. The jury is and should be still out, and boyd’s work may function to close the case on an incredibly complex set of issues that will require decades of study. What’s the big deal, and why write such a long review? Because boyd is highly influential, because this book will be a best-seller and make her a bunch of money and because while she may be an expert in media studies and a preeminent researcher, she is NOT an expert in adolescent development. While this book clearly demonstrates a mastery of what teens are doing with social media, it demonstrates glaring errors and highly problematic interpretations of WHY they are doing what they do and say they are doing.
boyd has been called the “high priestess of the Internet” by the Financial Times, an internationally-recognized authority on how people (mostly teens) navigate the online world. Thought of as a brilliant ethnographer of adolescent digital natives, danah (that’s not a typo, with the lower-case “d” and “b”) boyd’s rise to the top of the top of the world of experts about what teens are doing online has been meteoric. In 2010, when Boyd gave the opening remarks at the highly influential South By Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin her remarks erupted into a firestorm of activity across the tech landscape. People listen to danah michelle boyd and she has the credentials (Microsoft Research, Berkman Center fellow, A.B. in Computer Science from Brown, M.S. in Media Arts and Sciences at MIT and a Ph.D. in New Media at University of California, Berkeley for her dissertation on adolescents utilize the internet as a kind of “networked public” (sphere), carrying out crucial, normative tasks of socialization, creating, maintaining and testing out ways of connecting with others in an increasingly digital world. Impressive. Continue reading