Building Community with Social Media

This week’s reading were super interesting for me for many reasons- one being that I grew up with social media and witnessed the change of moving from Myspace to Facebook. The idea of social networks didn’t have a literal meaning for my 10-12 year old self. I created a MySpace  account for the sake of designing a website and hearing some of my favorite songs. In middle school it didn’t have quite the community building effect, since my classmates and I relied on calling each other and meeting at the playground to stay connected. About 8-10 years later I realized how strong and pertinent social media is in our globalized society.

Now, I have conversations with various family members and we talk about the pros and cons of social media. In one sense, we do feel the sense of community building or preservation, since I remained connected to friends and family that live in other states in countries. However, the concept of cyber bullying is real… and can make a person abuse these systems. What I found the most interesting in this week’s readings was the notion that the decision to migrate to Facebook or stay at MySpace was racialized and socialized in Danah Boyd’s“White Flight in Networked Publics?” My naive adolescent self experienced this change without ever thinking twice as to why I switched to Facebook or why MySpace was suddenly uncool. Because of my upbringing in an urban ghettoized inner city, I’d like to think my decision to switch wasn’t influenced by racial and ethnic divisions. When I was reading Boyd’s argument about white flight occurs in social networks, I thought about how the concept of race is a social construct. Particularly, I thought about Omi and Winant’s conceptualization of race and the ways in which it is employed are everywhere, so that young 11 or 12 year olds were willing to switch their social networks to not be associated with certain race groups or peoples they deemed ghetto.

When thinking about white flight in social networks, I try to imagine the change in social media over the years. For example, MySpace is pretty much dead now but Facebook survived and other social media networks have been birthed and popularized. We have so many digital spaces to socialize with and create community. One of the social media sites that I think does this well is Twitter. On one of the blog posts on Al Jazeera,“Anatomy of a Hashtag,” about the structure of a hashtag and it’s popularization, I think about how rapidly people become connected through a cause, organization, or project. In fact, social media helps communities and organizations protest. By retweeting or using a hashtag, people feel like they belong to a community or cause. During the Women’s March in January 2017, media sources tracked hashtags on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see where and why people were involved and to what extent. Although the event was well covered by the media globally, some of the smaller marches shared their pride on social media.

As a scholar and researcher, I think these hashtags are pretty cool and useful since they serve as a ‘search keyword’ that provides us access to a digital archive of pictures videos, and tweets/posts that can help us gain insight to the moments that have gained traction through the usage of hashtags. In various readings twitter is used as a means to engage and preserve, which is how we can view the benefits of social media today. While social media can exclude and discriminate towards a group of people, and still does with various groups, hashtags, or organizations that are active on social media, it can also bring people together and allow people to voice their opinions about political and social issues.

 

References:

http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/thestream/multimedia/multimedia/2013/12/anatomy-of-a-hashtagnotyourasiansidekick.html

http://www.samplereality.com/2015/10/03/a-protest-bot-is-a-bot-so-specific-you-cant-mistake-it-for-bullshit/

http://publichistorycommons.org/engaging-to-preserve/

 

About ohh_kei

I'm a New Jerseyan who loves to read, write, dance, hike, and learn. As the daughter of Puerto Rican migrants, I enjoy learning about different peoples and cultures. I look for narratives of migrants/immigrants that discuss struggles within immigration, identity formation, assimilation and being bi-cultural in the United States. I currently am pursuing my PhD in American Studies at Rutgers University.
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3 Responses to Building Community with Social Media

  1. trapanesed says:

    Thank you for your contribution. I relate to not being young and not realizing the power of these community building networks. I don’t know if social media ever played a big role in my life. I tell myself Facebook is great for me to have to keep in contact with friends and family but I never seem to reach out.
    I remember when I first considered getting social media I was going to make a Myspace. I told my buddies girlfriend about it and she told me “nobody uses that anymore, you need to get a Facebook.” I never questioned why. She was a white girl that came from money. Maybe she did Myspace was ‘ghetto’ and wanted out.
    I like how you summarized in laymen’s terms what a hashtag is. One question that you mentioned in class that I would have liked to see on the post was that of what makes someone part of this hashtag community. Is there a minimum number of times you need to use this hashtag? Do I have to contribute to the community in other ways. For example if I hashtag #blacklivesmatter am I in? What if I hashtag #bluelivesmatter a year later, am I out? I understand that communities outside of social media can be superficial as well. I belong to the Kiwanas club but have only been to one meeting. Still when my job asks me what I have done for the community you better believe Kiwanas club will be on that list.
    Thank you for all of the feedback on my assignments and for modeling what a great post looks like. See you in class

    Liked by 1 person

    • lornaebner says:

      Who belongs to a community in terms of hashtags is a great way to think about community in terms of social media, and you bring up really interesting points. Can you be part of differing communities simultaneously? How do you exit a community once you’ve entered? Is being part of a community on social media a passive or active state? Thanks for sharing!

      Like

  2. lornaebner says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience! It’s fascinating looking back on the past and finding out that there may have been greater stimuli to a change than we previously imagined, or were even aware of. My story of transition from myspace to Facebook was similar. I did it because my friends were doing it. I didn’t think to question why or even them for their reasoning. It’s great to think about the communication that social media allows, especially, as you mentioned, with keeping up with family members. It’s interesting to think of how people kept in touch before. Do you think in providing ease of communication through social media, that some communication has lost meaning? Like having your aunt “like” a photo versus having a telephone conversation, or a personal conversation via text?
    From a research perspective hashtags are super complex and intriguing. As you mentioned they can be used to expand messages, movements, and dialogue. In our reading this week, Martin Grandjean mentions that for the purposes of his study, he refers to the digital humanities as a community, rather than defining and therefore limiting, the study in terms of academic discipline. Going forward, it will be interesting to see the variety of information that can be gained from studying hashtags and how community is defined within them.

    Liked by 1 person

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