Ever wondered why some people choose to use Facebook while others choose MySpace? People will approach media with all different expectations, uses, and gratifications…but what drives these?
Last week in my Social Media Networking class, we learned about how race and more importantly, one’s background, is often a key driver of how young users approach media. A simple example of this may be the difference between a Wall Street banker reading the New York Times versus a high school student reading the New York Times – while the banker is probably reading it to inform them on how that day’s current events will affect the markets, the student is perhaps reading it as a homework assignment. Both the student and the banker are doing the exact same thing, but each approaches the media with different expectations and uses.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Robert Scoble.
The same goes for social networks – one’s social class, experiences, race, and background undoubtedly shape how they experience social media and which social networks they prefer to be a part of. Studies have found that teens from less-privileged background including blacks and latinos tend to lean towards using MySpace whereas university-bound privileged teens, which tended to include whites and Asians, leaned towards Facebook. Coming from two completely different backgrounds, these teens’ decisions on which social network to choose are completely dependent on their lifestyle and background. Perhaps it is style preference, or even the fact that university-bound teens want to be in a network where they can see who attends their same school. What it is not, however, racial segregation on the Internet. I am still a believer that the Internet can eradicate inequality – everyone is given equal opportunities to engage in the exact same activities. It is not society’s fault if they choose to leave up the digital fences that keep everyone divided on the Internet. The Internet presents the possibility of a raceless space – everyone now just needs to take advantage of that.
Featured image photo courtesy of Flickr user Sean MacEntee.