MySpace, Facebook mirror class divisions in US society

My friend danah boyd -- frequently featured here -- is one of the best social scientists working on social networking sites today. She's just published a working draft of a paper called "Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace," which posits that well-to-do, stable American teens with "good prospects" end up on Facebook, while poor, queer, marginal and non-white teens end up on MySpace (even in the military, grunts are on MySpace and officers are on Facebook -- guess which one the military banned!)

As with all danah's work, this is provocative, insightful stuff that exposes the deeper lessons lurking beneath the tens of millions of profile pages on social networking sites.

The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other "good" kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college. They are part of what we'd call hegemonic society. They are primarily white, but not exclusively. They are in honors classes, looking forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities.

MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, "burnouts," "alternative kids," "art fags," punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn't play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn't go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school. Teens who are really into music or in a band are on MySpace. MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers.