Recently, I chatted with a sixteen-year-old female high school student who enjoys reading, social media and blogging. I was surprised to hear how popular the practice of blogging is amongst her friendship group and impressed with her attitude toward ‘speaking out’ on social justice issues that she feels are important. Her feelings toward content presented by the mainstream media, in television news reports and newspapers, reveals suspicion and shows a developing critical awareness. The opportunity for young people to develop their own opinions, by conducting independent research into issues they view as significant, is something she considers to be highly important for herself and peers. Her most popular author at the moment is John Green (New York Time Y.A. bestseller and famous ‘vlogger’), she follows him (along with 200,000 other young people) on her preferred social media site ‘tumblr’.
Q. I hear that you own a lot of books? Is this correct?
Q. How many do you estimate?
A. At least one hundred.
Q. Are you buying more?
A. I would like to but there is not enough space.
Q. What are you reading at the moment?
A. “Pride and Prejudice” for school. Then I was reading Tara Moss’s autobiography – “The Fictional Woman.”
Q. What types of books do you enjoy reading the most?
A. I quite like complex stories that are unpredictable.
Q. Any examples?
A. I quite liked the “Great Gatsby” and this autobiography. (Tara Moss)
Q. List some popular fiction books that you have also read?
A. All of: Twilight; Hunger Games; Harry Potters; Divergent. All of John Green’s books too.
Q. What is your favourite show to watch at the moment?
A. “Game of Thrones” and “Orange is the new black.”
Q. Do you watch them on youtube, television, or download?
A. Get it off my friends who download.
Q. What type of on-line reading do you enjoy?
A. “Wattpad” – unpublished authors. So I read my friends book on that, though I don’t usually read online.
Q. Are you a member of any fan clubs?
Q. What sites do you post to?
A. Tumblr, facebook, instagram.
Q. How many followers do you have on ‘tumblr’?
A. Roughly 400.
Q. What do you blog about?
A. What ever I like – the books I like reading and social justice issues.
Q. Who’s your favourite band or musician?
A. Taylor Swift. Bastille.
Q. Where do you listen to the music you enjoy most?
A. Internet and Itunes, I don’t really use CD’s.
Q. What are the popular on-line activities amongst your friends?
A. Blogging, because it is uncensored and not distorted by media. It lets people develop an opinion on issues based on their own research – rather than what the media feeds us.
Q. How many of your friends blog?
A. All of them.
Q. Which sites?
A. Tumblr; youtube; other people’s blogs.
Q. Does your school incorporate any of the popular social media into school work?
A. In school work we don’t use media but we do use educational resources on the internet.
Q. Is there any social media that you would like to use at school?
A. Probably tumblr.
Q. Why doesn’t your school use it now?
A. Because of the national curriculum, we haven’t found a way to fit it in just yet.
Our generation is not as laid back as people may think. And we are not ignorant when it comes to social issues.
Q. Such as?
A. Women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, religious conflicts- terrorism and racial conflict.