Tuesday, March 9, 2010

social networking

In her discussion Monday about Symphony of a City, Liz Canner noted that there was an interesting difference in the degree to which a homeless man and a wealthy landlord revealed their lives on camera. She specifically commented on how whereas the homeless man never turned the camera off, in a way always being in public view already, the landlord insisted that the camera be shut off numerous times. He also appeared to spend almost all his time in his own private property.

I was reminded of this while reading Danah Boyd's discussion of the exclusion of teens, and anything associated with them and their culture, from physical public spaces of any consequence (this includes age, class, and race related divisions). This is offered as one possible root of the social networking site phenomenon, and in a way a factor in and evidence of a division between patterns of social interaction amongst teens and adults. After pointing out restrictive non-voluntary lifestyle details such as a highly structured routine, lack of mobility, and general hypocrisy on the part of adults, Boyd did note that this is generally not the case for poor or ethnically diverse teens. However, there seemed to be a gap that followed, which could have contained more discussion as to the issues specific to these other teens, who constitute a substantial portion of the population. There is a large number of homeless youth in this country, some unknown portion of which use the internet and use social networking sites. Like the homeless man in Symphony of a City, they can spend a far greater portion of their everyday lives in adult physical public spaces. It would be interesting to have more discourse on how teens of low socio-economic class use the internet and social networking sites to form patterns of social interaction, and how these compare both to those of their parents and their wealthier peers. The broader consequences of any difference could also warrant discussion.

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