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.