Thursday, October 29, 2009
View From the Phlipside
These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown
My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside
One of the saddest commentaries on the human condition is our inability to just get along. There is a deeply rooted push to wall ourselves off from folks who are different, to try and stay with others as much like as ourselves as possible. The world wide web seemed to offer the first step in tearing down those walls. It was a hope that we could set aside some, maybe even most, of our prejudices if we could deal with one another only in the virtual realm.
Sadly it seems it may not work here either.
I know that one online community where I was a member for a long time couldn't do it. Our particular politics drove one group to demand and receive their own personal neighborhood. It was a very sad moment for me. I worry when we demand our rights to a personal ghetto.
A new survey by the folks at Nielsen Claritas shows that it's happening in a lot of places just by default. Their survey of social networking sites showed that each neighborhood had its own distinctive personality. The survey indicates folks on MySpace tend to be a more blue collar/middle class group than the folks on Facebook. Residents in both of those neighborhoods tend to be more downscale than users of Twitter and LinkIn, a social network aimed primarily at business contacts. Bloggers and users of Twitter and LinkedIn are also more likely to be Facebook users, be from urban settings and be economically upscale (well two out of three for me isn't bad).
So does this mean the traditional social divides will inevitably be repeated in the virtual world? Yes and no I think. Certainly to start out we will be with the folks who make us comfortable. I left MySpace because I found a lot of the material and approach there to be excessively juvenile. Facebook has its juvy, silly side as well but I felt like I have much better control over it. What will fight against the hardening of the old system in the new world is how much easier it is to wander into a different "neighborhood" and look around. The worst that might happen, in most places at least, is that you'll get flamed by the inhabitants. This ability to explore, to experience and to meet and greet in a largely safe environment clearly encourages folks to go beyond their comfort zone even if only by a little bit. Slowly expanding our comfort zones may be the best approach to the problem.
If the social media can help us learn that the stranger in our midst is in fact a fellow human being very much more like us than we thought than that may make up for its other shortcomings.
Call that the view from the Phlipside