Thursday, April 14, 2011

Facebook or Myspace, which is better?

I'll be completly honest with you, probably the only reason I got a Facebook was because a girl I wanted to get to know more didn't have a Myspace. At the time Myspace was easier to use and more customizable, which I believe it still is. Both Facebook and Myspace have their pros and cons. For one of my friends who is trying to make it into the music world, his Myspace allows him to do that more neatly then Facebook. Facebook is much more for professionals in my opinion, it's not customizable, no fun colors, no music when you click on profiles, just blah!

I have both a Facebook and Myspace and the only one I actually sign into is Facebook because that's where I have more of the my friends. The thing that I don't like about these social media sites is that people will either ask you or accept you as a friend but if you try to go and talk to them at school, their like "Ugh, who are you?" All they cared about was how many friends they had. For them it's a competition. I got so fed up with all the drama that one day I just deleted almost everyone. I went from 600 friends to 250, I think it what I have now!

As far as race and classes on the social networks, it's not going to be any different on there as it is out here. If you like or don't like a certain race your not going to on the internet. For classes the thing about Facebook being for higher up classes is not true. I live in Redford and their is nothing High Class here! It's either low or middle class and we all use Facebook! SO where are the rich going to run to know on cyberspace!?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


“All this said, people are already divided and we accept that people from different backgrounds inhabit different environments. We cannot expect technology to automatically integrate people and generate cultural harmony. Although most of you call these sites "social networking sites," there's almost no networking going on. People use these sites to connect to the people they know. In other words, even if they could talk across the divide, they might not anyhow. And even when people talk across differences, it doesn't automatically solve underlying tensions. Racial integration of schools was valuable for many reasons, but it didn't solve racism in this country.”

I disagree with this whole paragraph. I felt that this did not grasp the notion of social media/networking thoroughly, instead a bit more biasly and/or in a negative light. My question is: is there really a divide on social networking websites and/or the web?

Yes, it is true that “People use these sites to connect to the people they know” but it is not the only truth. Social networking sites are definitely used to ‘network’, get connections. When social networking is utilized and understood thoroughly, the results can be quite beneficial. This website summarizes it up pretty clearly. <--

“Thanks to social networking sites, meeting someone in person has become a thing of the past. "Poking" has become the new handshake. Making friends and renewing old ones is easy. Thus, meeting people and staying connected with classmates and friends is a major benefit of social networking sites.”

I don’t see how a divide is visible within these facts. Social networking makes the world a much smaller place. You can build and re-build your profile and reputation. You can join various networks and pages and follow your favorite website/celebrity/politician/etc. on twitter with no restraints. Within these social networks- Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, you can discover mutual friends, then expand from there. I am not the one to add random friends on Facebook, however I have added mutual friends, who I barely knew, through my friends due to certain connections they may have. For example, a company they work for that may be of assistance to me at some point. Also some people find their significant others online, there is no divide when finding a person you’re attracted to – real life or online. Another example is this blog for instance. When we go to comment on each other’s blogs, we aren’t really looking at who’s writing the, we are simply commenting on them. (Well, in my case anyhow.) I am not looking for who’s black and who’s white, I’m just looking for a blog to read to comment on.

Online, it is like we are one race, in one world – the cyber world. Essentially there are no limits. I can do anything you can do, and vice versa. Online media/social networking allows us to come together in one pool. As we discussed in this course, there are plenty many issues online, but nonetheless the benefits tend to outweigh, and we overlook the issues. Ignorant people in real life, may be ignorant on the web also, but just like in real life, we’d probably avoid them. However online people who want to speak up but are not willing enough, can dare to question and comment without being afraid. There is no big divide. There is only the WORLD WIDE WEB. It is not the “only Asian web” or the “only black web”. It is the World Wide Web, where we can all come together and not worry about ‘divides’, rather embrace new technologies and innovations that may connect us to old and new friends and great networks.

Music vs Words

     The point that stood out most to me was in article by Danah Boyd titled "The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online." Boyd examined the differences in who uses which social network, and drew comparisons between their choice and their class.

     Boyd looks at both race and economic status when making her point. The section that popped out at me was quite small, but it really got me thinking about myself and why I chose to 'make the switch.'
Craig (17, California): The higher castes of high school moved to Facebook. It was more cultured, and less cheesy. The lower class usually were content to stick to MySpace. Any high school student who has a Facebook will tell you that MySpace users are more likely to be barely educated and obnoxious. Like Peet’s is more cultured than Starbucks, and Jazz is more cultured than bubblegum pop, and like Macs are more cultured than PC’s, Facebook is of a cooler caliber than MySpace.
      The series of quotes from high schoolers is what made me think. Why did I leave Facebook? And in a way, Craig summed it up for me. Between his thoughts and the thoughts of Melanie, who is quoted just below Craig in the original article, I figure out why I did it. I wanted to get away from what seemed like the "lower class." Facebook was the hot new thing, and it offered this clean slate, something that is the same for everyone, and it is "more like adultness." I was making the transition from high school to college, from this giant pool of people into this more cultured, sophisticated world, and moving to Facebook seemed like the right change to make.
     More than anything, education and a sense of sophistication seem to be the deciding factors in who's on Facebook and who's on MySpace. Those who remain on MySpace seem content with what was, and they're not looking for the next best thing. And that could be because they're satisfied with where they are in life. It's a stretch, but after reading this article and seeing what some of these younger kids think, it makes you stop and really question it.
     It seemed like the 'big switch' happened when transitioning from high school to college. So I wonder if transitioning from college into the 'real world' will induce another change (possibly to LinkedIn) or the dropping of social networks all together? In the very least, leaving college will change the way we use Facebook.

Classism and Racism Are Issues Beyond the Net

I had been more aware on the Digital Divide among nations, at the macro level, not so much domestically. I guess I'm a globalist in the sense of social issues. Yet, it is a reality like in any other public sphere. Reading the expressions of the youth class and racial divisions between MySpace and Facebook confirmed my observations about both social networs' environments. That there are "certain people" who use each service. I had a Facebook before I had a MySpace, and preferred it over the other because I could find my college classmates. In this sense, I was influenced by social status, not class. I also disliked MySpace's layout. Too flashy. However, I never rejected because "ghetto" people hung out at MySpace. Though, some may define flashy as "ghetto", and may perceive my rejection of MySpace as a reaction to that. However, I've been taught to be a person of consciousness or as some call it "political correctedness". I just simply liked to have a simple layout and wanted to find like-minded college students.

Boyd argues that the public spaces in social networking sites are stratified so people can find people like them in every sense of the word. This has been my experience. Ever since I became internet savvy (around 10 years ago) I tried to connect with people from my home country. I felt a craving for this "togetherness" that we could share as a group. Then, I became progressively narrower on my search for a net belonging. Thus, my new quest became to find people from back home who share other things with me, such as political views. I then began expanding my social networks to include people who shared my political activism across religion, race (I use this nonsense word for the sake of semantics), class, nationality, and ethnicity. Within that narrow niche I became motivated to reach out to others that I normally wouldn't had I not been a little picky at first.

The articles made me pond on the idea that these narrow niches can help people to expand their horizons, and challenge the socially and racially stratified structure. When we find ourselves among people who are too much like us we begin to feel an itch to go outside the box. In my experience, I got tired of all "kinds" of Puerto Ricans, so I wanted to find "specific ones". However, it became very boring, and I noticed that it paused my progress as a thinker and activist because I had other interests outside this very narrow niche. I, thus, began to open myself up to "Other" people. Watkins has noted that Latinos and Blacks had been progressively migrating from MySpace to Facebook. This could be due to a number of issues. I would argue that one reason could be that they become bored of the same, and want to explore a new venue like in my case. By migrating from the "ghetto" (MySpace), these Latinos and Blacks are exposed to diversity, and may open up their horizons. An opportunity not afforded by the outside public space which is less intimate.

Nonetheless, racial and ethnic segregation wouldn't be automatically stopped by the wide range interactions of the new digital world. As Boyd noted on her ethnography, interest or ethnic groups tend to band together wherever their crowds move. Thus, to bring integration across race, class, and ethnicity there needs to be a value system to promote that. Most privileged people grow up with values that tell them to not be like the "Other". It is part of their belief system that keeps them in their privileged positions. On the other hand, the "Others" also grow up with a value system driven by beliefs about the privileged as well. Thus, it is a social contestation that needs repairing beyond the internet. Though, the internet certainly helps to engage both parties within public places, we have seen Latinos and Blacks have their own public spaces (MySpace), as well as their own way of accessing these pubic places (mobile connection). Moreover, the internet has also been a public space to promote racism. An example was the UCLA's student's rant against Asians. The net was used as a tool for racism, not for eliminating it. Engaging people to learn about the "Other", to interact with the "Other", and to accept the "Other" will take us a step further in trying to eradicate social and ethnic stratification; and, the internet can play a large role in this but it won't be the cause of it. Racism and classism go beyond that. Thus, I sadly say that for the foreseeable future classism and racism will be part of our online lives. More so now with the increasing socio economic crisis that is increasing class conflict (which is also overwhelmingly about race).

Why Do Men and Women Differ on Social Networking Sites?

Based on the readings, there are significant gender differences in the way men and women use social networking sites (namely, Facebook). According to Watkins and Lee, those discrepancies include women being more likely to post comments, "like" things, engage in personal conversation, and post photos. On the other side, men are more likely to post links to current events, and news related topics, and post videos to their wall (Watkins/Lee p11). Why do these differences exist?

There are a variety of reasons for this, the most significant being the way men and women are socialized. Women are brought up to value friendships and social interaction. This likely accounts for the increased number of photos posted and engaging in personal conversation on Facebook. Conversely, men are brought up to be opinionated and more individualistic. This explains the fact that men are more likely to post their views and links supporting them as opposed to commenting on other people's walls.

The difference in socialization also accounts for the fact that women are more likely than men to keep up with long distance friends. According to the study, 55% of females find it very important to communicate with friends who live in a different state or country while only 34.7% of men believe the same thing (Watkins/Lee p14). In the 20 or so psychology classes I've taken, it has become very clear that women are brought up to be more family oriented as well, and are more likely to be caretakers for elderly family later in life. Again, the familial socialization of women comes into play when it comes to the importance of communicating with family. 40.3% of women find it very important to chat with kin on Facebook whereas only 26.4% of men feel the same.

Though socialization is not the only reason for differences, I believe it is the strongest motivator for the discrepancies.

Translation into Technology

Is the social divide that happens in day-to-day life that much different when a computer is involved? I'd have to say no. The things that divide social classes, whether they are adults or teenagers, are still the things that will divide them online. Factors such as social class-standing, zero exposure to individuals unlike one's self, even narrow minded thinking may play a part of why people only interact with certain types of people. I don't believe adding a social networking site into the mix changes that. In my opinion, that is like saying that peole who own telephones will talk and interact with people they do not know. Which isn't the case at all. People who have the means to interact with individuals they are unfamiliar with typically still choose to talk and interact with people they know. As Danna Boyd stated"We cannot expect technology to automatically integrate people and generate cultural harmony."

If websites were people

Take a look at the above artist's rendition of what various popular websites would look like as people (larger view and source here). There are undeniable demographic trends among social networking sites, but furthermore, this picture shows how we can anthropomorphize something as inhuman as a website. Of course, this is just one artist's (conspicuously white) conception, but it's an interesting window to the way websites become lifelike and entirely separate entities in our minds. Now check out this discussion about the image. Some of the comments could fit right into Danah Boyd's research:

"And myspace should be some ghetto hoodrat that thinks he can rap but sucks or a grungie 35 year old guitar player living with his parents, still waiting to 'make it big.'" --superbreakfasttime

So something as faceless as a social networking site can definitely take on an aggregate personality, relative to who's viewing it. I wonder, though, how much of an effect does this really have? I think Boyd exaggerates when she calls the Facebook to Myspace user base transition as "modern day 'white flight.'" I believe many of the reasons for the collapse of Myspace boil down to its many interface and usability issues. Facebook was simply superior, and people flocked to it. People also go where their friends are, so in a sense, Boyd is right that these things are based on trends. Homophily has inertia. But the internet still has a social flattening effect. We all have a sense of the racial demographics in our areas -- it's essentially unavoidable. On the internet, though, it's difficult to get a sense of your true "surroundings." Because of that, I think something like white flight is far less likely to occur. Online social networks, being physically disconnected, can be highly modular within the same site as well.

Still, the web has many divisions. Boyd asks an excellent question: "So as we think about creating public spaces, what's the meeting point for our conversations? Is it MySpace or Facebook? Twitter or IRC?" I agree with her that "What you choose matters," but that doesn't answer the question. One feature of many social networking sites is that they are tightly coupled. When you add friends on Facebook, you become part of a concrete network. The network is visible to everyone in it, and communication is internally very open. Sites like Twitter, on the other hand, are loosely coupled. Users don't see each others' data streams, as with Facebook walls, and being "friends" isn't a mutual handshake. Retweeting can expand the data you see on Twitter beyond just the people you choose to follow. Tweets are also much more easily captured and shared than Facebook wall posts. I'd venture to say that Twitter is much more data-focused, while Facebook is more focused on the social aspect. My question is, which format is better for meaningful discussion about serious topics like racism or politics? Despite Twitter's character limit, I think it's better-suited because of the lack of social context. It's purely an exchange of ideas. On Facebook, a comment is an event. These are two very specific examples of different networking paradigms that are likely to evolve quite a bit in the future. Perhaps the best solution for facilitating equalized dialectic on the internet will be entirely different from both. I'm not entirely sure. Regardless, we must remember not to ". . . interpret an advancement as a solution," as Boyd says.