2006 Controversial Media Essay

2006 Controversial Media Essay-29
This should answer some of the confusions introduced by this essay.) (Leveraging ethnographic data, I have documented these dynamics in more detail in my dissertation: "Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics." See Chapter Five.) (I take up the racist language that teens use to discuss My Space and Facebook in "White Flight in Networked Publics? Americans aren't so good at talking about class and I'm definitely feeling that discomfort.

This should answer some of the confusions introduced by this essay.) (Leveraging ethnographic data, I have documented these dynamics in more detail in my dissertation: "Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics." See Chapter Five.) (I take up the racist language that teens use to discuss My Space and Facebook in "White Flight in Networked Publics? Americans aren't so good at talking about class and I'm definitely feeling that discomfort.How Race and Class Shaped American Teen Engagement with My Space and Facebook." To be published in edited by Peter Chow-White and Lisa Nakamura.) Over the last six months, I've noticed an increasing number of press articles about how high school teens are leaving My Space for Facebook. There is indeed a change taking place, but it's not a shift so much as a fragmentation. It's sticky, it's uncomfortable, and to top it off, we don't have the language for marking class in a meaningful way.Class divisions in the United States have more to do with social networks (the real ones, not FB/MS), social capital, cultural capital, and attitudes than income.

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When Facebook opened to everyone last September, it became relatively easy for any high school student to join (and then they simply had to get permission to join their high school network). Not surprisingly, college-bound high schoolers desperately wanted in.

This meant that many more high school teens did join, much to the chagrin and horror of college students who had already begun writing about their lack of interest in having HS students on "their" site. In addition to the college framing, the press coverage of My Space as dangerous and sketchy alienated "good" kids. Parents weren't nearly as terrified of Facebook because it seemed "safe" thanks to the network-driven structure.

Facebook was strongly framed as the "cool" thing that college students did.

So, if you want to go to college (and particularly a top college), you wanted to get on Facebook badly.

My Space has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers.

2006 Controversial Media Essay

In order to demarcate these two groups, let's call the first group of teens "hegemonic teens" and the second group "subaltern teens." (Yes, I know that these words have academic and political valence.The bands began populating the site by early 2004 and throughout 2004, the average age slowly declined.It wasn't until late 2004 that teens really started appearing en masse on My Space and 2005 was the year that My Space became the "in thing" for teens. It slowly expanded to welcome people with accounts from a variety of different universities.These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college. My Space 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.I wish I could just put numbers in front of it all and be done with it, but instead, I'm going to face the stickiness and see if I can get my thoughts across. Hopefully, one day, I can get the words together to actually write an academic article about this topic, but I felt as though this is too important of an issue to sit on while I find the words. The academic side of me feels extremely guilty about this; the activist side of me finds it too critical to go unacknowledged.Enter the competition When My Space launched in 2003, it was primarily used by 20/30-somethings (just like Friendster before it).Still, even with the rise of high school students, Facebook was framed as being about college. (Of course, I've seen more half-naked, drink-carrying high school students on Facebook than on My Space, but we won't go there.) As this past school year progressed, the division around usage became clearer.In trying to look at it, I realized that it was primarily about class.In mid-2005, Facebook opened its doors to high school students, but it wasn't that easy to get an account because you needed to be invited.As a result, those who were in college tended to invite those high school students that they liked.

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