During this past week in History of the Information Age, our class discussed global social media habits and representation in the digital age. Part of this discussion involved reflection on our own habits.
Thursday’s (04/18/2019) end-of-discussion activity proved to be different than our usual Canva-based student-driven activity, as myself and my classmates stood in a line against the wall of the classroom, taking steps if a certain phrase applied to us. These phrases included common activities such as “take a step forward if you have a social media account” or “take a step forward if you share and/or like political content online.”
I myself was among the students who took the most steps. While I do not create too much content specifically for social media, I would classify myself as a social media lurker, and therefore, simply liking and following content and content creators is indicative of my online participation.
At the end of the activity, our class discussed the possibility of conducting our “experiment” with a different group of participants, perhaps a random sample or maybe some people outside of Chick-fil-A. I would first predict that more users who took steps forward would be part of younger generations, such as Millenials or Gen-Z, because, according to a Pew Research Study, the majority of social media users belong to these younger generations.
However, I do speculate that at least in the United States, some individuals may be dishonest about their social media usage, particularly those belonging to older generations, for fear of appearing as vain or as participating in frivolous activities. From my personal observations only, I have detected differences in the types of content posted and shared to social media between younger and older generations, with older generations more likely to share as though they are speaking directly to close family or friends, and younger generations often (but not always) more apprehensive of such detailed content, and more likely to craft a specific “online persona.”
I cannot predict what social media usage among future generations will look like, because I am aware that technology and habits are ever-changing and evolving. However, I wonder if social media – or whatever modes of sharing information that come about in the future – will bridge perceived generational gaps in communication.
Bain, Marc. “Nike’s Kaepernick Ad Is What Happens When Capitalism and Activism Collide.” Quartz. Sept. 29, 2018. https://qz.com/1400583/modern-corporate-social-activism-looks-like-nikes-kaepernick-ad
Brichacek, Andra. “Six ways the media influence elections.” University of Oregon, School of Journalism and Communication. https://journalism.uoregon.edu/news/six-ways-media-influences-elections
Erigha, Maryann. “Race, Gender, Hollywood: Representation in Cultural Production and Digital Media’s Potential for Change.” Sociology Compass 9, no. 1 (2015): 78-89.https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/soc4.12237
Macafee, Timothy. “The Interplay between Social Media Politics and Offline Political Participation.” American Communication Journal 20, no. 1 (Winter 2018): 19-30. https://umw.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=133823102&site=ehost-live
Noble, Safiya Umoja. “Challenging the Algorithms of Oppression.” https://youtu.be/iRVZozEEWlE