The “Race” between “MyFace” If asked to type into your browser, MySpace or Facebook, would you feel obligated to choose one over the other based on your race and class? Like the New Yorker cartoon of the “who knows you’re a dog on the Internet,” social networking viewed discrimination, social division, race and gender as being insignificant in the digital world. The racial perceptions and biases we develop in our off-line lives, likely creep onto our MySpace and Facebook lives as well.
S. Craig Watkins, author of “The Young and the Digital,” is a professor of Radio, and TV-film at the University of Texas in Austin (Greene 505). He is a leading researcher on today’s youth and the way they use the many forms of social media. In this article, Watkins has completed hundreds of surveys and deep interviews with young people, teachers, and parents in order to understand the complex social networking world. Thanks to all his interviews and surveys, this gives Watkins unbiased research and also educational authority because he is a professor in Texas.
Watkins’ genre of using books is a very classy way of spreading his research. He has previous work that has also been published including Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture and the Struggle for the Soul of a movement (2005) and Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema. The fact that actual books are being published on social networking using surveys and interviews of young people grabs your attention, rather than bypassing another opinionated weblog. Watkins has succeeded in educating us about the digital world.
Watkins’ audience is very widely dispersed:
Sustaining a serious public conversation about the class cleavages in American life is a constant challenge, but not for the reason usually cited-that Americans rarely if ever think in terms of class. The truth is nearly every facet of our daily lives-the clothes we wear, the foods we eat, the schools we attend, the neighborhoods we live in, and the company we keep-bears the visible marks of social class and the ever-deepening cleavages between the economically mobile and the economically vulnerable. (Watkins 506)
His audience is towards everyone in general who has access to the Internet, and whether people are intentionally or unintentionally discriminating. Very similar to plagiarism, you may not even know you are doing it. In this part of the article, Watkins discusses his gathered research on the effects of race and class in the digital world. Within months after coming out, MySpace had charged ahead of the once popular social network, Friendster. Soon after its launch in 2004, Facebook replaced MySpace as the new digital destination for the college set (507). By 2007 high school students bound for college were also showing a stronger preference for Facebook (507). After the multiple interviews and surveys, Watkins came to the conclusion that white people prefer Facebook rather than MySpace and Hispanics prefer MySpace instead of Facebook. Thanks to other people conducting similar researches, Watkins’ argument is backed up and strengthened due to the fact that they all had many of the same results. After surveying 1,060 students, ages eighteen and nineteen, Eszter Hargittai, a professor of communication studies, found that a majority of the students, four out of five, used Facebook (508). About one third of the sample used MySpace frequently (508). More than eighty percent of white students preferred Facebook while about fifty-seven percent reported using MySpace. Hispanics are completely opposite as sixty percent use Facebook and seventy-three percent use MySpace. Hargittai found an interesting correlation based on families class. “The most pronounced finding,” Hargittai writes, “is that students whose parents have less than a high school degree are significantly less likely to be on Facebook and are significantly more likely to be MySpace users” (508). A close