2006 Controversial Media Essay

Social networks are strongly connected to geography, race, and religion; these are also huge factors in lifestyle divisions and thus "class." I'm not doing justice to her arguments but it makes sense.My friends who are making K in cafes are not of the same class as the immigrant janitor in Oakland just because the share the same income bracket. Unfortunately, with this framing, there aren't really good labels to demarcate the class divisions that do exist.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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Even before high school networks were possible, the moment seniors were accepted to a college, they started hounding the college sysadmins for their account. For all of 2005 and most of 2006, My Space was the cool thing for high school teens and Facebook was the cool thing for college students.

This is not to say that My Space was solely high school or Facebook solely college, but there was a dominating age division that played out in the cultural sphere.

I couldn't find a good set of terms so feel free to suggest alternate labels.) These terms are sloppy at best because the division isn't clear, but it should at least give us terms with which to talk about the two groups.

The division is cleanest in communities where the predator panic hit before My Space became popular.

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).My Space has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers.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.Socio-economic divisions In sociology, Nalini Kotamraju has argued that constructing arguments around "class" is extremely difficult in the United States.Terms like "working class" and "middle class" and "upper class" get all muddled quickly.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.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.She argues that class divisions in the United States have more to do with lifestyle and social stratification than with income.In other words, all of my anti-capitalist college friends who work in cafes and read Engels are not working class just because they make K a year and have no benefits.

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