"I'm an addict" and other sensemaking devices: a discourse analysis of self-reflections on lived experience of social media

Katrin Tiidenberg, Annette Markham, Gabriel Pereira, Mads Middelboe Rehder, Ramona-Riin Dremljuga, Jannek K. Sommer, Meghan Dougherty

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


How do young people make sense of their social media experiences, which rhetoric do they use, which grand narratives of technology and social media do they rely on? Based on discourse analysis of approximately 500 pages of written data and 390 minutes of video (generated by 50 college students aged 18 - 30 between 2014 - 2016) this article explores how young people negotiate their own experience and existing discourses about social media. Our analysis shows that young people rely heavily on canonic binaries from utopian and dystopian interpretations of networked technologies to apply labels to themselves, others, and social media in general. As they are prompted to reflect on their experience, they begin to add nuanced yet inherently contradictory rhetoric of social media use and its implications. This reflects a dialectical struggle to make sense of their lived experiences and feelings against dominant normative discourses. Our unique methodology for generating deeply self-reflexive, auto-ethnographic narrative accounts suggests a way for scholars to combine micro-sociological tools with auto-ethnographic approaches to understand the ongoing struggles for meaning that occur within the granularity of everyday reflections about our own social media use.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication8th International Conference on Social Media and Society : Social Media for Good or Evil, #SMSociety 2017
Number of pages10
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date2017
Article number21
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-4847-8
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event#SMSociety: International Conference on Social Media & Society - Toronto, Canada
Duration: 28 Jul 201730 Jul 2017
Conference number: 17




  • Autoethnography
  • Discourse analysis
  • Sensemaking
  • Social media
  • Young people's social media use


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