MySpace vs. Facebook: Class barriers online

Class divisions in cyberspace?What's a populist e-book-Web site to do? The other day, we started a small TeleRead group on Facebook (details coming, along with those for MyBlogLog, where we're also present) in the hope that our community members could get to know each other better. And if a few TeleBlog regulars became good friends or established business connections, that would be fine. Where the bad boys dwell But now On the Media, the ultimate media show from public radio, tells us that Facebook is on the elitist side and the great masses dwell in MySpace, home to rock bands and the like. Pretty obvious, of course, but it's still a point worth making. Class barriers are popping up in "No One Knows You're A Dog" Land. Check out an OTM audio segment suggesting that Facebook is for nice students (and presumably alumni) with respectable .edu backgrounds who'd rather not brave the wilds of MySpace. The FBers apparently feel that MySpace is a bad boy like its owner, Rubert Murdoch. Author of the study cited on On the Media is Danah Boyd, a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Information Science at the University of California at Berkeley and also a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society (and an alum of MIT and Brown---with, yes, a Facebook account).

Oh, the horrors. At least the eBook Community list, whose main moderator, Jon Noring, has his own group on Facebook and kindly shared the Facebook idea with us, can help absorb the guilt. Perhaps in the future we’ll do the bad boy act on MySpace; it’s just an issue of time. Any volunteers?

Our real home: The nonexclusive Web

That said, I expect that the real business of the TeleBlog will happen just where it always has—on the totally nonexclusive (once you’re wired up) Web. Also, if you want messages sent kind-of-privately to other commenters and contributors, you can forward them through me.

Angel of Death cover from Weekly World NewsThe e-book angle: Needless to say, peer pressures will influence what books people read—or whether they read period. Quite wisely some libraries are reaching out on MySpace (thanks, Sarah). By the way, while I do worry about the time-sink potential of social networks, at least you can use them without IM-style interruptions. Certainly they hold some potential for online reading groups.

And speaking of bad boys: Shed a tear for the Weekly World News, which will forsake the supermarket news racks for the more alien-friendly world of the Web, where UFO-related abductions and impregnations live on.

(Creative Commons photo at the start of this post by Maebmij via Flickr.)

4 Comments on MySpace vs. Facebook: Class barriers online

  1. Naa, this is not about class barriers – practically everybody is free to open accounts in in both communities. It is about aggregation. Don’t you remember the times at school, when the cool kids who discussed rock bands separated from the nerds, and vice versa? Well, Myspace is the cool kid’s corner (or, as Paul Graham has put it: an online replacement mall for mallrats). And while Facebook appeals less to this crowd, it seems to attract more of those who go to universities.

  2. My view is that FaceBook attracts a more educated and sophisticated crowd who are more serious about life, politics, education, career, etc., while MySpace attracts those more interested in just having fun — the “par-tay animals”. I see it less of a “class” thing but rather more of an individual personality thing.

    I would think that in terms of those who are avid readers, they are more likely to be attracted to join and socialize in Facebook than they would in MySpace. I have no plans at this time to create an “eBook Community” on MySpace, but haven’t ruled it out for a future time.

  3. Septimus Severus // August 4, 2007 at 12:50 pm //

    After listening to the “On the Media” show during which intrepid Dana Boyd forthrightly spoke “truth to power” I am now convinced that David Rothman should be deeply ashamed of himself for establishing a TeleRead group on Facebook. David is supporting a malevolent structure of hegemonic oppression that wraps the disadvantaged people of the world in unbreakable chains of cruelty and misery. The marginalized and tyrannized who reside on MySpace clearly confront an unbridgeable and awful divide and suffer from the imaginably hurtful throbbing pains of inequity.

    One might argue that it is easy to obtain accounts on MySpace and Facebook and that many people have already done this. One might also argue that people can have multiple personas and that social economic mobility and fluidity is remarkably high. But this is false consciousness since we know that the people who have accounts on Facebook and MySpace will be torn apart by the inexorable wheels of the economic engines of death.

    Hence, David should immediately disband the Facebook group and reestablish the group on a new equitable community service with the fundamental goal of ridding the world of hegemonic elitism. Of course, all this nonsense about reading “good” e-books must be halted too since it is simply a form of encoded elitism that facilitates the continued domination of social discourse by the artificially hyper-literate that use vocabulary and sentence structures as weapons.
    (Yes, this comment is satirical. Unfortunately this bald statement is required to reduce misunderstanding. David’s comment above, “Oh the horrors”, suggests that he also is attuned to the aspects of rhetorical excess.)

  4. This isn’t about class barriers? Everyone is ‘free’ to open an account.

    Now that was a deep thought.

    Just like everyone is free to get a library card and thus get a real education. No excuses. lol

    I love when this discussion pops up and all the white FB users follow what appears to be an instinct and immediately begin lampooning with the most sophomoric saracasm. Thanks for the Saturday afternoon humor ya’ll.

    At the end of the day, the realities are still what they are. Maybe it would be better to face that reality than make fun of it as if it, and even more frightening, and its implications aren’t real.

    As usual. No one actually disputes the class breakdown. Only paper thin arguments that it doesn’t mean anything. Typical.

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