Abandon your MySpace account for Facebook? You might just be a racist.
At a keynote speech during New York’s Democracy forum at Lincoln Center, Danah Boyd spoke of the racial disparity and possible reasons for mass abandonment of MySpace for the “more cultured” and “less cheesy” social networking site Facebook. Boyd, a social media researcher for Microsoft and fellow of the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society, stated:
“We might as well face an uncomfortable reality … what happened was modern day ‘white flight’.”
Boyd also observed that:
“The fact that digital migration is revealing the same social patterns as urban white flight should send warning signals to all of us. It should scare the hell out of us.”
Referring to MySpace as the “ghetto of the digital landscape,” Boyd indicated that MySpace users are more likely to be “brown or black” and espouse a different set of ideals in conflict with those espoused by the teens she surveyed over four years. She said that patterns in migration across social networking sites echoed those of a white exodus from cities in the past. Boyd also said that teens who use Facebook are more likely to condescend their MySpace-favoring peers.
“Any high school student who has a Facebook page will tell you MySpace users are more likely to be barely educated and obnoxious… like Peet’s is more cultured than Starbucks and jazz is more cultured than bubblegum pop. And Macs are more cultured than PCs.”
Teens aren’t even the worst culprits when it comes to socio-economic social media judgment passing. The New York Observer cites a quote from Michael Wolff in an interview with BusinessWeek’s Jon Fine in December 2008:
“If you’re on MySpace now, you’re a [expletive] cretin. And you’re not only a [expletive] cretin, but you’re poor. Nobody who has beyond an 8th grade level of education is on MySpace. It is for backwards people.”
Boyd’s research indicated that the class divisions were likely to only worsen over time, as the media continues to portay MySpace as a seedy stomping ground for pedophiles and Facebook as a “utopian savior.” She contends:
“There’s a cultural wall between users. If there’s no way for people to communicate across the divide, you can never expect them to do so.”