Week 7: Anti-Social Media

It’s kind of funny how the Internet was once considered a great “equalizer,” as it has ironically progressed to create the infamous “digital divide” and technology gap that many societies struggle to close. Senft and Noble reference in Race and Social Media that although society associates racial stereotyping with a negative connotation and fears being labeled as “racist,” our communities are ultimately uninterested in abandoning racial groups because it’s our social reality. Not only is this true in public environments and social settings, but it is also found true online. Racial stereotyping, segregation and targeting are found even more abundantly online. Although part of the intention of the Internet was created to close the gap between cultures with different socioeconomic statuses, it has evidently created a larger gap between racial groups because of its anonymity. Some may consider this a form of empowerment – the act of providing people with technology to spread ideas – however, not all online activity promotes well-being and positive racial interaction.

A newly categorized term of racist commenting and promotion online has been dubbed “anti-social media” for its obvious reasons to detract from normative online conversations and interactions and instead create unnecessary messages and hype about race and profiling. This article by DiversityInc concludes that over 10,000 racist and derogatory tweets are posted per day, with 30% of them being directed towards a specific individual or a group. As social media platforms have grown, so has room for new perspectives and opinions on the appropriate usage of these various media. Who are we to limit the free speech of an individual online? However, what does it say about us if we don’t do anything? This sticky situation is one that many online users find themselves in on a daily basis. According to the concept of interpellation, individuals categorize themselves based upon others’ reactions to their specific racial group. Although this is more of a subconscious thought, how is that fair or equal to assume the stereotype others have put on you? For me, the best thing I would suggest is to stay out of it, but for you brave hearts, maybe you can take the chance and make a change to let people decide for themselves which group they want to belong to, aside from others’ beliefs for once.


3 thoughts on “Week 7: Anti-Social Media

  1. emdesur

    I had not thought about the factor of anonymity online, but I like that you bring it up. People are more likely to post things that they shouldn’t if they are anonymous and this includes things that are regarding race. The problem is that it is so easy to post anonymously online, so people are less sensitive with what they post. Even if things are done anonymously they are still seen publicly and have just as much of an impact on public perception of a race. I am not really sure of a solution to this problem, but it is one that is very interesting to think about.

  2. fmanto

    I’m doing my project on Yik Yak, and the anonymity part is a huge, important part to the the project. I’ve seen so many posts that have been geared towards racial groups, especially when there was an ethnic specific conference on campus one weekend. The interesting thing is that a lot of rude and insensitive posts are downvoted very quickly by other users of the app. So that’s something interesting to consider, right? Everyone knows it’s wrong to say those things, but I think because it is anonymous, it allows people to say it anything without personally being punished for it.

  3. William Lam

    You’re definitely right about this being a sticky situation. You lose if you don’t speak against it, but you set yourself up for a flame war with that person if you do. It’s kind of interesting to see that Twitter’s original intent of “What are you doing?” when it first launched in 2006/7 has transformed into a cathartic medium that allows for these racial comments to be expressed. It’s sad, really, that although social media has allowed us to express our thoughts in new ways, it has also given rise to these thoughts that (usually) go unspoken.

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