"It's a secret thing": Digital disembedding through online teen drama fandom

Ysabel Gerrard

Abstract


Fans of teen drama television series often feel that their pleasures are unworthy, with many going to great lengths to hide their practices from certain people. Social media plays a key role in contemporary fan cultures, and so fans must navigate platforms’ changing and complex norms around their users’ identity in careful and strategic ways. These acts counter recent scholarly claims about the ‘embeddedness’ (or entanglement, enmeshing) of social media’s technologies and norms within our everyday lives. In this paper I explore how fans sometimes disembed, or detach from the logics of certain platforms to facilitate secrecy. My respondents disembed from: (1) some platforms’ normalization of authentic identities, (2) social media’s increasing naturalization of its own embeddedness within everyday life, and (3) platforms’ demands that their users engage in often-risky practices of sharing. I draw on interview and social media observation data to examine how teen drama fandoms’ devalued cultural status motivates my respondents to create secret identities on certain platforms, particularly Facebook Pages.


Keywords


gender; fandom; social media; identity; sharing

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v22i8.7877



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