The Drama! Teen Conflict, Gossip, and Bullying in Networked Publics

Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing, Internet and Media and Content

Article Snapshot


danah boyd and Alice Marwick


A Decade in Internet Time: Symposium on the Dynamics of the Internet and Society, September 2011


“Drama” among teens online is often misunderstood by adults as bullying but in fact has its own unique characteristics.

Policy Relevance

This article can help further inform cyber-bullying policies by presenting a more nuanced understanding of how teens interact online.

Main Points

  • The use of the term “drama” allows teens to distance themselves from adult-defined practices like bullying.
  • Drama encompasses a range of activities including gossiping, flirting, arguing, joking, jealousy, and name-calling.
  • Drama allows teens to downplay these activities as being less serious. This is used to help teens “save face” during a conflict.
  • Drama takes place in public online spaces. An important characteristic of drama is that it involves performance and publicity.
  • Drama is often associated with females. Because of this, it is often dismissed in high school social settings where little value is placed on feminized emotional work.
  • Drama allows teens to understand and conceptualize the impact of social media on their own social dynamics.
  • Teens do not recognize themselves in the “bullying” rhetoric used by adults.

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