Some smart thinking about MySpace and Facebook

Every once in a while we find an article that is so fascinating we have to bring it to your attention. “Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace” is about one of the great e-phenomena of our time: social-networking Websites. For those of us born before 1975, these sites can be foreign and slightly confusing Internet territory. But for young academics like Danah Boyd, a 29-year-old Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley, they are the perfect tool to study sociology in real time.

Her essay notes the origins of and differences between MySpace and Facebook and the users they attract. The main dividing line? Socio-economic class. According to Boyd, MySpace tends to attract what she calls the “subaltern” while Facebook draws the “hememonic.” Or, to put it in blunt Mean Girls clique-speak, Facebook is the domain of choice for college-bound jocks, preps, and queen bees, MySpace the one for immigrants, alternakids, and wannabes. Facebook is more like Target; MySpace, more like Wal-Mart.

Boyd’s fieldwork consisted mainly of talking to teenagers around the country. Her results are laid out in easy-to-digest language that even the most technophobic and jargon-allergic among us can understand.

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Some smart thinking about MySpace and Facebook