Is there an internet “culture” Absolutely! The denizens of the internet have their own practices, rituals, rules, language and tone. And all of these I believe are about as unique as any other culture IRL. The readings this week took an interesting look at how cultural norms from real life transfer to and interact with those of the web. The excerpt about the White Flight between social media platforms was fascinatingly provocative. Although I had never thought of the decline of Myspace leading to it becoming a sort of virtual “ghetto”, I wouldn’t disagree. When I think back on it I suppose it’s true that the demographic that stayed and continued to adopt Myspace increasingly had shared characteristics that people would call “ghetto”. I believe it is due to all the reasons the author cited. Wealthier web surfers, who often tend to be white, suburban, educated kids, had the stronger connections to the university scene that birthed Facebook, whereas people who were less educated and from the inner city weren’t afforded the same opportunities or knowledge to jump ship with everyone else.
This got me thinking about how different web sites have different cultures. For instance 4chan has it’s specific brand of unique, regular users who have their own bizarre language of images and L3AtSP3Ak. Or if you think about Reddit, the very platform and structure of the website leads to different functional norms and attitudes than that of Tumblr, who’s free flowing, random and infinitely scrolling wall is quite different from Reddit’s super structured organization of SubReddits. The WOW research paper goes into how the nature of people’s chosen gathering place affects how the users act and interact. And how it’s the same for a bar IRL and towns in WOW. What I don’t think they mentioned was how communities from these different sites interact. The internet is a naturally confrontational place. And their is an funny history of tension and hatred between different communities. One example is the Reddit Vs. Tumblr dynamic. People tend to align themselves to only one of these sites, and the users of each tend to insult and downplay the quality of the other site. They often argue about the origins of particular posts, information and memes and whether it started on one or the other. They accuse each other of “stealing” content from each others sites and argue about which site contains more generators of actual original content and which tends to simply acquire other people’s work and repurpose it without crediting others. It’s all pretty interesting to me.