The Null Device


A new study in the EU has revealed a transformation in the social function Facebook plays: as membership becomes ubiquitous, teenagers are sullenly withdrawing from Facebook for the darkened bedrooms that are Instachat/Appgram/whatever the kids call it these days; when your mum is on there, updating your Facebook is no longer fun, but rather a chore. When you're a teenager (and sometimes when you're no longer one) and your entire family are on Facebook, logging on and posting status updates isn't so much a case of hanging out with your friends and finding your own way in the world, but one of filing reports to your 'rents, an enforcement mechanism of the extended probation that is adolescence; the virtual equivalent of an electronic ankle bracelet, if you will:

"Mostly they feel embarrassed to even be associated with it. Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives."
Consequently, because when you post to Facebook, you're standing up straight, tucking your shirt in and presenting yourself to authority figures, you tend to self-censor more. Which also makes it less fun.
Information that people choose to publish on Facebook has generally been through a psychological filtering process, researchers found - unlike conversations, photos and video shared through more private tools such as Skype, or on mobile apps.
A Facebook that's about reporting to your parents that you've been keeping out of trouble sounds like good training for the future when a clear (and respectable-looking) social media trail will be essential for everything from employment to immigration, and indeed not having one (or having one that looks forged) will in itself be grounds for suspicion.

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