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

Keywords: gender, fandom, social media, identity, sharing

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.

Author Biography

Ysabel Gerrard, University of Leeds
PhD Candidate at the School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds & intern at the Microsoft Research Social Media Collective, New England (summer 2017).
Published
2017-07-31
How to Cite
Gerrard, Y. (2017). "It’s a secret thing": Digital disembedding through online teen drama fandom. First Monday, 22(8). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v22i8.7877