Race and Class Distinctions in the Social Media

The article “Digital Gates:  How Race and Class Distinctions Are Shaping the Digital World,” by Craig Watkins made me think more in depth about how racism still exists in some ways in social media. The article begins talking about research made by Dannah Boyd called “Viewing American Class Divisions through Facebook and MySpace.” This research was made in 2007 when MySpace was still big and Facebook had just become public. In this research Boyd wanted to go more in depth about how there was a separation of classes between MySpace and Facebook. MySpace was more for blacks, hispanics, and people whose parents did not go to college, while Facebook was more of the elite class. Facebook was for white college students, whose parents also went to college. I believe that one reason of this class separation was that Facebook was only available for college students. You had to have a college email to be able to join Facebook. In a way, having that as a requirement is a way of separating people. Let us remember that a lot of kids are not able to go to college because of their financial situation, or if you want to go the intellectual route some kids do not go to college because they did not graduate from high school.

The aftermath of the fight between MySpace and Facebook was that Facebook ended up being the best between the two. After Facebook decided to go public in 2006, the people decided to move from MySpace to Facebook. One phrase that really caught my attention from the article was ‘Young Facebookers’ abandonment of MySpace is not simply about avoiding “bad code”; it is also about avoiding “bad people.””

If you really start thinking about all the results from the surveys, you can tell that they have some truth in them. I remember being a tennager and not being able to have a Facebook page and my brother, being a college student,  would tell me that Facebook was so much better and that MySpace was stupid. I couldn’t have one because I wasn’t in college, therefore, I wasn’t that cool.
College students thought they were better than everyone else that wasn’t a part of Facebook because they had something that we couldn’t have.

Aside from distinction of class and race, is the loss of identities. Creating an avatar, or your profile for your social media website, is letting you in a way create yourself however you want to. People want to create their identities the way that they want others to perceive them. Girls that want to show themselves as super hot will probably put a profile picture up in a bikini, someone that wants to look professional will probably have a really professional picture of themselves and will not have crazy pictures on their profile. Being able to create whatever identity that you want can be something positive or negative.

Changing or hiding your identity on the internet is really easy because there’s no way for someone to really know who is on the other side of the computer. We come back to the dog cartoon that the New Yorker made ten years ago, about how no one on the internet can tell if you are a dog. The funny thing to me is that even though the cartoon was made 10 years ago, it is still very true. It is funny in a way but is also very scary because you really never know who you are talking to or how are you being judged by your pictures, the way you write, or just the friends that you have.

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One Response to Race and Class Distinctions in the Social Media

  1. The Craig Watkins findings were very interesting to me because as a minority I can identify with societies use of stereotypes. Going off of personal experience, most of my high school friends including myself had a Myspace page. It was the “it” thing. It made communicating easier and furthermore it allowed us to create our own identities via social media. At the time, I wasn’t aware of the stereotypes that people believed in about Myspace users. For all I knew it was fun and engaging.

    As time went on, my classmates and I began hearing about Facebook! By the time that I joined there wasn’t any restrictions on who could use it. But I do remember enjoying the cleaner and more professional feel that Facebook gave the user. Based on the Watkins Study that you mentioned in your post, the overall consensus about Myspace v. Facebook has been that poor uneducated minorities utilize Myspace and middle class educated whites utilize Facebook. It is honestly sad that people formed these harsh generalizations about these two social networking sites however it’s not completely inaccurate.

    Social Media gives users the platforms to form their identities and share it with the world. Whether its the types of pictures that you upload or simply the language that you use when in bio, people automatically “label” who you are based on that. I can honestly say that this class has offered me a different perspective on this “digital gate” that society has created.

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