As far as social networking pertains to Jenkins and Boyd, I would argue that of the four forms of participatory culture depicted by Boyd, I probably only participate in the affiliations form. While I have chosen to participate on facebook, and myspace occasionally, I do not contribute to the flow of media. I do not have a live journal or blog online in the way in which it is described. My participation on these sites is also more limited than a lot of my peers. I do not really allow any beyond my friends to access my information or even search for me. I keep in touch with a few people, but have neglect to update my profile regularly. In this way, I affiliate with these social networking sites, however am not changing the face of the media or the face of these sites very radically.
I find it compelling the argument that Boyd offers in her examination of myspace as a space for young people to hang out. Even as a college student, living in a dorm, there was not a lot of “space” in which to hang freely and cheaply. As a result, between homework assignments and during the afternoon without much else to do, browsing facebook would fill the time. Beyond just simply filling the time, these sites truly do allow people to connect and keep in touch in a very easy manner. My college experience would have been a lot different had I not had the easy way to keep track of my high school friends from out of state.
I agree that the internet is a leveler of sorts, that anyone with access to the internet can be a media creator. I think this is a powerfulf outlet for people to have, yet I am weary that it prevents social interaction. It is nice that there is somewhere to be heard online, yet without community outside of the computer screen, I worry about the value of this medium. I worry that while the internet provides an outlet for communication, communication skills in person will be lacking because it is much different to be able to edit, censor, and reword a point of view online than to be able to communicate effectively in the real world with a live audience.
It is interesting however to look at the ever-present cultural divide between generations. My own generation was the one where facebook started. Friendster as described by Boyd was previous to my time, and myspace is more popular with the younger high school youth. Our parents generation simply does not have the language that comes along with these social networking sites. Knowing what “a wall is” or “I’ll facebook you” is participating in this culture outside of the computer screen. The social networking culture itself has pervaded other media outlets and the lives of everyday people. For this very reason, even just knowing the terms that go along with the social network discourse means that some level of participatory culture is already present. These sites have become a part of the younger generations means of communication and a part of life away from the computer whether a positive change or not.