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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

A Room of Our Own, Or Social Broadcasting

Marina suggested today’s title — for the teenager whose personal room is now a hub, a drawing room, a portal, valuable for its connections not its privacy. I asked my second YA Lit graduate class about this concept yesterday and their responses went in two helpful directions. One student thought that, no matter how many connections teenagers have and even if they have come to value the buzz of connection above all, some of the transitions of adolescence are, in their nature, private and personal. So as you begin to change physically, mentally, psychologically you cross through places where you feel you are different from who you were, but also you wonder if you are different from others — you feel alone with the transitions not because your parents are repressive or your friends unheeding or your school rigid — you are not forced into privacy by others. Rather there is something inherently private about the experiences you are going through.

That sounded right to me. But then another student suggested a spectrum — she reveals much more of herself digitally than her parents would, and her friend’s younger siblings go that much further than she would. So to her there is a significant shift of the markers, the rules, of what is or is not said. We’ve all heard the stories of the youthful facebook posting and the question of whether that will or will not be a hinderance at a future college application or job interview. I wonder if some part of this may just have to do with the relative newness of all this posting — the leap out the gate to post photos best not shared with the world, or opinions that do not belong in publc may be the Ow Wow I Can Do This gust which may pass as the buzz of the new fades. The alternative view is to see a person as living within a set of circles — yourself, family, friends, classmates, former-friends, teamates, distant cousins. Digital connections mean that what we would whisper to just the inner circles becomes the currency of ever wider circles. This is not social networking, it is social broadcating.

I suspect that part of the freedom that young people feel in sharing is because you are broadcasting, not sharing. You are announcing, which is actually less intimate and less emotionally risky than confiding. There is an abstraction in broadcasting — you are speaking to everyone and no one, you are annonymous even as you are revealing something highly personal. So to go back to my last post, the question is, how may this moment of broadcasting, of consantly living in public, in a room of our own, change reading, writing, and the future voices of YA literature?