Thursday, August 23, 2007

Battle of the Giants

Danah Boy wrote a thought-provoking piece about MySpace and Facebook, titled: "Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace."

He claims:
"The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other "good" kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college. They are part of what we'd call hegemonic society. They are primarily white, but not exclusively. They are in honors classes, looking forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities.

MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, "burnouts," "alternative kids," "art fags," punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn't play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn't go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school. These are the teens who plan to go into the military immediately after schools. Teens who are really into music or in a band are also on MySpace. MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers."

He continues:

"Most teens who exclusively use Facebook are familiar with and have an opinion about MySpace. These teens are very aware of MySpace and they often have a negative opinion about it. They see it as gaudy, immature, and "so middle school." They prefer the "clean" look of Facebook, noting that it is more mature and that MySpace is "so lame." What hegemonic teens call gaudy can also be labeled as "glitzy" or "bling" or "fly" (or what my generation would call "phat") by subaltern teens. Terms like "bling" come out of hip-hop culture where showy, sparkly, brash visual displays are acceptable and valued. The look and feel of MySpace resonates far better with subaltern communities than it does with the upwardly mobile hegemonic teens. This is even clear in the blogosphere where people talk about how gauche MySpace is while commending Facebook on its aesthetics."

I disagree. Wholeheartedly.

MySpace has its roots in the entertainment community and Facebook in the college community. And it shows: MySpace is more flashy and often feels like amateur hour at its peak, while Facebook offers a clean interface that is attractive to all kinds of users. Both social networks serve different purposes at this point and that has nothing to do with the implied class system.

Are we really discussing school backyard politics about who's the coolest and most fashionable? Didn't we say a while ago that the Internet is the ultimate democracy tool? Or do we have to become Second Life avatars to bring the democracy back?

If you're intrigued by the article, here you can find further explanations from Danah.

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