Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"I don't mean to be racist or anything, but Myspace is like, ghetto"

Inspired by previous work done by ethnographer danah boyd (yeah, she's all bell hooks like that), this interesting CNN article uses Neilson data research to scan the difference in income levels of users of social media. Mostly, research has found that most young children start their social networking on Myspace and gravitate toward Facebook once they've gotten a bit older or graduated from high school. This trend seems a bit logical as Facebook started as a site only available to those with .edu email addresses, but the fact that even after almost five years of existence, expansion, multi-user inclusion and interface and usability development Facebook still caters primarily to the high school graduate is pretty intriguing. It seems that with Myspace, users not only become tired of the kitschy music players and opportunities to pimp out profiles that go horribly awry (and sometimes even crash browsers...*ehem* IE!) but, like the beat-up swing set in the bad part of town, users abandon their old stomping grounds when they find the newer, safer playgrounds on the block. And in terms of privacy settings, Facebook is indeed almost infinitely more safe than Myspace.

In terms of affluence, the sites are ranked with Twitter and LinkedIn leading the pack. This is probably due to the features of Twitter that allow users an easy outlet for their public relations material that younger or non-professional individuals might not need, especially if they are not tweeting for a company or for business purposes. And the fact that LinkedIn's homepage advertises the site as a place for "professionals" could be why a large number of users are part of a higher income bracket. Facebook follows, with 23% of their users earning over $100,000/yr., with Myspace users tending to be from the blue-collar middle class.

The title of this post comes from an interaction that boyd had with a young woman from a small town in Massachusetts, and I pretty much have to agree. As part of my internship, I have to accept friend requests on Myspace on behalf of the organization's Myspace page, and when I go to leave "Thanks for the add!" comments on people's pages, oh boy do I see a lot of trashy, ugly, flashy stuff. Most people have made over their profiles in the spirit of a horrible MTV makeover show, with bling and dyed leather and awful music everywhere. The number of times my browser slows down due to these pages would shock you.

As for myself, an educated graduate student with no income, I wonder where I fit into all the demographics. It would be interesting to look at the education levels of the individuals who use each of these sites instead of assuming that being affluent also means having a high level of education, or vice versa.

1 comment:

Geoff said...

With regard to your statement about level of education as opposed to level of income...they are, understanding that there are of course exceptions, inextricably linked...