Chapter 5: “She’s just a small town girl, living in an online world”: Differences and similarities between urban and rural girls’ use of and views about online social networking – Jacquelyn Burkell and Madelaine Saginur


Burkell and Saginur explore intersecting differences between girls who live in cities and girls who live in rural areas. Using the eGirls data, they compare and contrast urban and rural girls’ experiences on social media. Again, the commonalities are striking. Although rural girls were very aware of their “rural-ness” (unlike urban girls who never defined themselves as city girls) and felt that city girls were much more successful at “amping up” their virtual appearance through the use of makeup and Photoshop, the experiences of both groups of girls were very similar. Both used social media to reinforce their real world connections to people who lived in their communities, and to keep in touch with family and friends who lived far away; and both reported a similar level of pressure to conform to the expectations of peers. However, rural girls were more likely to take online conflict offline, and attempt to resolve issues face-to-face. Burkell and Saginur suggest that this may be linked to the fact that their real-world social circle was more limited in size and space, and also more inter-connected (“Everyone knows everyone”); this amplifies the potentially destructive impact of ongoing conflict and increases the need to intervene face-to-face to repair breaches in relationships. Again, this illustrates the complexities of online life and the importance of accounting for the diverse constraints that girls experience because they are situated differently.