Making a complex story simple: The exclusion of social media from life stories

Aysha Agbarya, Nicholas John

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article offers an account of the absence of media in general, and social media in particular, from a set of life story narratives. After conducting both unstructured life story interviews and semi-structured interviews with 15 Muslim Palestinian women in Israel, we analyzed the stories presented in each interview and the explanations given by interviewees for excluding items about (social) media from their life stories. Interviewees resolved what they saw as a contradiction—referencing “shallow” media in their “serious” stories about their identity—by sifting out items that could threaten the proper flow of such stories, as they perceived it, despite acknowledging their centrality in identity change. Cultural context and individuals’ beliefs are presented as preventing events related to media, especially new media, from being related in life stories. Moreover, our findings show the significance of life story interviews in interviewees’ identity development. It is argued that identities of both interviewer and interviewee play a role in constructing the story told. Life-storying occurs in a complex context that involves introspection, which itself affects the process of the storyteller’s identity formation. This study contributes to debates about the place of media in everyday life, as well as to our understanding of the relationship between identity and life-storying. The argument proposed here—that the absence of media from life stories might be due to conscious considerations rooted in the cultural specificity of those stories—is one that can be tested in further research.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalNew Media and Society
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Life-story interviews
  • narrative
  • religious identity
  • social media

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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