Youtube: Furthering Class Divisions?
In response to Henry Jenkins' article “Nine Propositions Toward A Cultural Theory of Youtube,” I would like to primarily focus on proposition nine. In this specific proposition, Jenkins states that Youtube is not “necessarily a diverse culture.” He believes that “minorities are grossly under-represented – at least among the most heavily viewed videos on YouTube, which still tend to come most often from white middle class males.” Now in no way do I wish for my post to be stereotypical nor racially prejudice in any way, however, I do wish to express my opinions on this statement. Participatory culture is most likely not a diverse culture, therefore I agree with Jenkins on this point. However, I can not say it is a correct statement because I do not know the statistics or facts regarding all participatory cultures on the Internet. It seems to me though, that these web programs, such as Youtube, are indeed furthering class divisions within our culture. If we were to take a young Hispanic male, living with his single working mother and younger sister and compare his internet use to that of a young white male, living with both his parents whom are successful business associates in a well respected company, we would find their web use vastly different, I would assume. For example, the Hispanic male may have to work immediately after school until late in the evening, to help his family, therefore time to spend on the web would be scarce. The young white male may have a sports team practice after school, but would mostly likely return home at a reasonable hour, well before dinnertime. Therefore, his time to spend on the internet would be much more available. Then, there is the idea of financial funds each of the families have. If the Hispanic family consists of a single parent, whom works alone to support her children could mean the family is without a home computer altogether. This would limit the young man's ability to use the internet significantly. The middle class family most likely has a computer, if not a couple, in their home, which would make access to the internet very easy. This idea is highly hypothetical and pretty stereotypical, however, it makes sense. If Jenkins' proposal that most of the viewed videos on Youtube are middle class males my situation could illustrate a typical reason why this is so.
Therefore, if this is indeed true, then access to technology is a major problem. If Jenkins proposal in proposition eight, concerning “social networking as [an] important social skill and cultural experience” in order for young people “to become meaningful participants in the culture around them” then access to technology will indeed further class divisions within our culture. For access to technology is in direct correlation with the participation gap. The youth who have easy access to computer and internet and have the time expendable to surf the web and “participate” in its cultural experience, will ultimately contribute more in society and become more successful, according to Jenkins and I agree. We must make technology a vital part of early education if it is to be the key to our future. We, as a society, must ensure that every child and young adult has adequate access to this technology and participation in this cultural experience. We must ensure these things in order to close the access to technology gap, as well as the participation gap, Jenkins speaks of in his article.