Another dynamite post by new-media/social network research extraordinaire, Danah Boyd, on the class divide that is emerging in the social network realm. This article covers a topic that I was speaking about to some folks while visiting the Facebook offices last week - Facebook skews strongly to the middle/upper classes, while the lower classes have stayed with MySpace.
Danah makes the added point that Facebook has begun to encompass "mainstream" (hegemonic) culture while MySpace is home to "alternative" (subaltern) cultures.
The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other "good" kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college. They are part of what we'd call hegemonic society. They are primarily white, but not exclusively. They are in honors classes, looking forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities.
MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, "burnouts," "alternative kids," "art fags," punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn't play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn't go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school. Teens who are really into music or in a band are on MySpace. MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers.
PS - I heard today on NPR a discussion of the birth and death of public swimming pools. In it, it was argued that communal swimming pools were initially very popular, but eventually class and race devisions lead to the death of the municipal pool. Now the swimming experience primarily exists in private homes. I'm too tired right now to determine whether there is an apt analogy with social networks, but I'll revisit this in a couple of days. Alternatively, if you'd like to do the thinking for me, please write it out in the comments below. :)