Monday, April 14, 2008

media creation and internet participation- Jenkins and Boyd

Jenkins and Boyd offer interesting interpretations on what internet culture means for different individuals.  Personally, I use the internet to affiliate with other people.  I have a relatively low involvement in internet society because I only interact with people that I already know.  I contribute only to Facebook, and so I am not involved in the production of complex creative media.  I am "writing myself into being" but only within a small cluster of friends who already know how I act in person.  Facebook does not require or encourage much skill development, but other sites and online activities do.  These outlets offer the potential for development of real-life skills that could be used to establish political or economic power.  Jenkins discusses the use of these skills to "bridge differences in age, class, race, gender," since these markers are hidden in an online environment.  This effectively broadens the perspectives and thus solutions to today's problems.  For instance, Jenkins writes about a middle-schooler running for President of a Sims Online town.  She discussed citizenship and democracy, giving a voice to an age group that is generally ignored in politics.  
I am a media creator because I have created an image of myself through the use of photography and stories posted on Facebook.  I have expanded this role through this class by creating a website and blogging.  While I am hesitant to use new technology, I also recognize that it will be an integral part of my future career and personal life.  Website creation will be a useful skill for a future job.  I also plan to blog during future travels.  In the past, I have tried emailing and it is so much easier to create one message visible to all of my friends.  This class is encouraging me to accept the importance of technology today by learning to better understand it and its uses.

Boyd's study of myspace culture reveals its importance, almost necessity, in youth culture.  And yet, when questioned, youth can only describe their experience as "hanging out" or socializing.  But myspace actually serves to foster "identity formation, status negotiation, and peer-to-peer sociality."  One of the primary uses of the site is to acquire new music.  Bands communicate through their music, and a users choice of music further communicates to others an aspect of their identity.  Participation in myspace is truly communication, either through direct dialogue between "friends" or through the expression of self, such as music likes, education, favorite movies, quotes, etc.  In these ways, users "write themselves into being".  I find it interesting that the body loses its importance.  In physical interaction, people are defined by their bodies, tall, blonde, brown-eyed, etc.  In the virtual world, these characteristics of of little importance, furthermore they can be manipulated so as not to reflect the actual user.  This has extended to create a new category of people, virtual people who do not necessarily reflect the "real world" from which they were created.  People are defined in relation to their interests, their friends, and their self-description.  In many cases, teens create identities for themselves online that they are unable to foster in real life.  Boyd argues that teens are against adult publics, but I agree with Caroline that this may not be entirely true.  Instead, I think that teens are trying to express themselves in ways that they wish they could in real life.  Rather than being expressly against their parents, it is more about exploring themselves.

Jenkins and Boyd offer intriguing arguments in regard to the importance and meaning of internet culture.  For a relatively uninvolved person like myself, these articles opened my eyes to what this culture is, and have sparked my interest in learning more.


scsorto said...

"teens create identities for themselves online that they are unable to foster in real is more about exploring themselves."

I think that it's true that some teens use myspace/facebook as a way to sort of explore themselves, but then I think about the teens that change who they are (create identities), and who try to make themselves cooler. They are unable to foster these identities in RL beacuse they can't keep who they are in RL and in virtual life straight. I think the problem is they tell so many lies (even small ones, like "my favorite song is XYZ", or i went to XYZ for vacation), that they cant determine the difference anymore between real life and virtual life. That is where myspace/facebook etc cause problems, I think. If people (not just teens, but adults too) make up so much stuff online that they cant keep it straight in real life, then that is dangerous. it's like they become pathological liars just to be liked.

anyways, just my 2 cents. :)

Whitney said...

I agree, I think that exploring through fact manipulation can be a very dangerous thing. Not only does it mislead the audience, it can be distructive to a person's own understanding of their identity. While many (like Jenkins) argue that virtual life fosters identity creation, I argue that it can also confuse it. If their virtual and real lives are not conducive, the person might lose their authentic sense of self.