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61 pages 2 hours read

Rebecca Stead

Goodbye Stranger

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2015

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Symbols & Motifs

Technology and the Internet

Adolescence is difficult on its own, and the use of social media can further complicate this already tumultuous phase of life. Though adults are just as likely to overuse their phones, adolescents and teenagers often use technology as the main vehicle for their social lives. This presents unique problems as social media can present unrealistic, curated examples of body image and lifestyle, and impulsive posts, texts, and photos can have lasting negative effects due to the ease with which online content can proliferate. Stead establishes the use of technology as a pervasive motif in the narrative, giving a realistic portrayal of teenage life in the digital age. As Em becomes more popular, she closely monitors the comment section of her profile, constantly internalizing how others view her. She develops a romantic relationship with an older boy based solely on text messages and little interpersonal communication. David and Julie send out Em’s photo to many people who now have access to something they did not ask to see, and kids like Sherm are put into an awkward position. Using words and images to hurt others is nothing new, but with the power of social media to reach large amounts of people quickly, cyberbullying provides a new way to hurt another person.

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