Race, Ethnicity, Class and Social Media

Race, Ethnicity, and Class are interesting subjects to analyze when viewing Performing Identities in Social Media. In our many profile pictures, descriptions, and texts we desire to portray a certain representation of ourselves. This varies depending on what medium you are on. For me personally, I am more restrictive of what I post and say on Facebook because I am conscious that I am friends with teachers, friends’ parents, and my own family. On the other hand, I tend to be a bit more open and unconscious of what I post on Twitter and Instagram. I am aware that I do not have as many followers (and those that I would worry about seeing my posts/pictures are not able to view my posts). But how does this tie in with Race, Ethnicity and Class? Depending on what I am saying and who I am targeting, I have a variety of medium options.

facebook-vs-myspace

Studies have shown a connection between racial/class groups and their social network of choice. 83% of white college students, presumably from families with money and education said to prefer Facebook over Myspace and saw it as “more intelligent”. Whereas, 73% of Hispanic students said to prefer Myspace to Facebook because it is easier to meet new people. This association is interesting because it would seem that Facebook users are active to stay connected with old friends, while Myspace users maintain their account to branch out and meet new people. Higher levels of education and income gravitated toward Facebook, while minorities with lower income associated themselves with Myspace. The stereotypes flourished on each side, claiming Myspace as “ghetto” and “creepy”, and Facebook “educated” and “safe”. Were these conclusions drawn from prejudice towards it’s users? The argument of safety does not seem logical, because either network can draw the same types of people who can view the same information on your profile (in accordance to your privacy settings). The argument of intelligent is interesting as well. Perhaps Facebook is seen as more intelligent than Myspace because it began with solely college student users. Regardless, it is important to question the reasons behind these opinions and if they are based on the types of users, or hard evidence of the site itself.

VR_10_04_p13_Racist_4C

It is obvious that social media users are getting younger and younger. Even though the user must claim to be over a certain age, there is no way to monitor the actuality. This opens young children up to bullying and discrimination. In a study conducted by the University of Illinois, Professor Tynes examines these young children and the vulnerability to racial discrimination and cyber-bullying. Racist and homophobic comments run rampant on sites such as Youtube and Yahoo, which can lead to depression and alienation of the young adults venturing them. In the study, Tynes discovered that 71% of teen African American internet users have encountered cyber racial discrimination, which can lead to Depression and Anxiety. Anti-Gay groups and White Power Groups are prevalent throughout the internet. So how does one monitor or control what kids and teenagers see? Obviously, simply checking a box claiming you’re over 13 is not a way to remedy the situation. We forget the impact of our Twitter and Facebook posts and how they affect others.

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