The look and feel that is acceptable amongst average Latino users is quite different from what you see the subculturally-identified outcasts using. Amongst the emo teens, there's a push for simple black/white/grey backgrounds and simplistic layouts. While I'm using the term "subaltern teens" to lump together non-hegemonic teens, the lifestyle divisions amongst the subalterns are quite visible on MySpace through the aesthetic choices of the backgrounds.
I had become acquainted through a complete random meeting of electrons with a young lady from Orange County, California, who's parents were wealthy enough that she could live without worrying about money, go to clubs and party more nights than not, drive around in a nice car and hang out on the beach a good portion of the time, and was politically very Republican. All the 'class marks' of someone the author would place in the Hegemonic Teen group. Yet she was all over MySpace and as far as I know didn't care much for Facebook — she certainly never mentioned it in conversation. Instead her topics of interest in online discussion were her World of Warcraft characters and Skype.
And here's where I think the distinction in the service provided by MySpace and Facebook differs. Facebook reinforces existing social structures, while MySpace has no imposed imposed structure, which forces users to make their own. As Danah Boyd says in the article, what will attract a teenage user to Facebook is the desire to get to know the students of the University they want to attend, and slot themselves into school's social structure through the use of an online tool that mirrors this social structure.
A teenager who puts some effort into creating a MySpace profile is probably finding cool pictures for their background image, tweaking the layout to make it look the way they want, adding little gadgets and videos and games and arranging the friends and the bands in his or her Top Friends to reflect how they fit in the user's own tastes. This leads to the ubiquitous charge that "MySpace is tacky and gaudy and cluttered" but that's only how the majority of the users like it that wayor they wouldn't make their profiles the way they do.
There is certainly a desire to fit in with a group on MySpace just as there is on Facebook, but instead of doing it by joining a network that reflects real-life institutions — Universities and corporations and only recently geographical locations — MySpace users identify themselves as part of a musical or other subculture by decorating their profiles in certain typical styles. Even before the music starts you can tell a MySpace user is a metalhead (even distinguishing a death metal fan from a Norwegian black metal enthusiast) just by how the page is decorated. People form clusters b having the same bands and popular people in their top friends and making themselves visible through comments and bulletins and blog posts which generate comments and attention. You know who the goths and the club kids and the anime fans are on MySpace, but there is no 'goths' network on Facebook.
Facebook in Canada — Bigger and Flatter
The social stratification described in the article is more pronounced in the US than in Canada. Facebook started as a site exclusive to top-tier US universities. In the MetaFilter thread someone recalls a Yale student complaining that Facebook went downhill when they started letting NYU students onto the site. The user base then expanded out to more and more colleges, then to High Schools, and finally to an open membership policy, with protest groups filled with thousands of complaining users popping up at every step.
But in Canada things were much flatter, and the growth of Facebook is even faster than in the U.S. In fact, Toronto is now the Facebook capital of the universe with over 500,000 users in the 'Toronto, ON' network, which leaves out users who've only joined the University of Toronto, York University and every other school-related network in the city.
The adopters of MySpace, which became popular in my part of the world in 2005 among independent music fans and gradually spreading until everyone I thought of as part of the more eclectic crowd had their own profiles, but my little sisters never found the site appealing, nor did an of my pretty mainstream co-workers or former schoolmates. If you weren't into indie rock or part of a subculture there was not much there for you t tie yourself to, and the ones who wanted online attention for the sake of it already had been swept in the blogging phenomenon of two years earlier.
But then along came Facebook, in Charlottetown I would point to Fall, 2006 as the official start of the time when no one would shut the hell up about Facebook. Now the high school kids are just as likely to have a page as University students, and co-workers whom I'd never expect to want to have an online presence are all active members.
The changing dominance of a given social network seems to me to be a de-evolution starting with LiveJournal, which was full of weirdos but where you at least had to be literate to use it, to MySpace where you could get by just fine by only posting pictures of your cat and animated gifs and copy-and-pasted greetings to friends' comments, to Facebook where you don't even have to worry about expressing yourself even a little. They give you a button to 'poke' someone if mustering up the word 'Hi!' is too much creative strain.
And while Facebook doesn't have the same strong institutional underpinnings in Canada — the original meaning of the word face book, a physical book given to students at the beginning of the year to show them their fellow students' pictures is an unknown term in Canadian universities — I also like to think that class is a less pervasive divider in Canadian society. In Canadian universities it matters much less which school you went to as it does who your supervisor was. And certainly no one outside of the most insular Bay Street wealthy elite could give a toss which high school you went to.
In Canada using Facebook doesn't associate you automatically with prestigious or even middle-class institutions like Universities and major corporations, it just means you're doing what everyone else is doing.
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