The Internet has its own culture with traditions, history, norms and more. We’ve seen the coolness factor shift from one social network, instant messenger, and email service to the next, and I used to think that’s all the shift was—just a shift in cool. What’s the next best thing and what’s no longer relevant? I never thought social media could be defined or seen in racial terms. So upon reading Boyd’s work, and specifically Kat’s 2007 quote cited in the beginning of the article, I was quite surprised:
It’s not really racist, but I guess you could say that. I’m not really into racism, but I think that MySpace now is more like ghetto or whatever.
People started leaving MySpace because of its particular culture, and they preferred Facebook instead. Facebook—the site that started out only for Harvard students, then opened up to other Ivy Leagues, then high-end colleges, then high-end high schools, until it was available to everyone. Facebook started out as this “elite” online community, and this is a part of its online cultural history. Of course now, a whole lot of people are on Facebook, and the lines are not as strictly defined as previously.
Facebook and now other social media are a part of the online culture, but what I find interesting is each of the sites has its distinct features, creating a kind of subculture. Twitter, for example, has its own set of terminology, abbreviations, and etiquette that doesn’t exist on other sites. You can retweet, favorite, and live-tweet on Twitter, and on Facebook you can create events, poke, and like.
Even within this Twitter subculture, different fanbases have another set of norms and etiquette. The NBA community on Twitter is a distinct one, trending topics worldwide almost every night by reacting to dunks, buzzer beaters, and a couple weeks back, #NBAAllStar:
— Twitter Data (@TwitterData) February 17, 2014
Also trending topics worldwide everyday are fanbases dedicated to pop stars like Justin Bieber or One Direction. Within the broad online culture and smaller Twitter culture, there are more cultural niches like the NBA or Directioner communities. The fact that the Internet can be home for all these subcultures is what makes it cool, interesting, and appealing for almost everyone.