Is Equality Possible on the Web?

This week we are still reading boyd’s It’s Complicated. The chapter we read, “Inequality,” discusses the networked lives of young people and how technology can widen the division between races, and social classes. Let’s connect the boyd reading with some current events.

The points that boyd makes in her chapter, “Inequality,” are very relevant, and can be applied in many situations online, and in real life. The talk about race has been prominent in the news lately with the Ferguson trials, and the shooting of Trayvon Martin.  During these events, and other similar cases, there have been comments on social media that range from the extremes on both sides of the spectrum (supporting the officer, and supporting Michael Brown) and a variety of dialogue occurred on social media, both positive and negative.

**Disclaimer: this article does not represent my opinion on the matters discussed. It is merely an example used for analyzing how the Internet can cause increased levels of inequalities and prejudices in the youth’s networked lives.**

After the shooting an infamous tag was born #blacklivesmatter. Positive, peaceful protests have occurred using the hashtag.

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A very powerful photo.

 

Even photos that tugged your heartstrings appeared:

Much feels.

 

However, violent riots, and support for these violent acts also emerged:

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Does this make sense?

 

In response to this others have called for increased hostility towards them, and in turn, it incites a new kind of hate. (This point is made in boyd’s example of Alexandra Wallace and threats she faced after posting her video)

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Be careful about what you post on Twitter.

 

These type of tweets continue to reinforce structural divides, and encourages racial segregation. This cycle continues as the web allows for freedom of speech and thoughts to be heard:

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Otherwise, responses like this are surely going to follow.

 

 

However, it doesn’t stop there. I’m not saying that either side has a justifiable reason for their actions, however, the girl’s personal information was released, she received death threats, and was suspended from school. Is this type of response acceptable? Sure she said some hateful things, however, was her action so bad that it in turn requires death threats? This type of interactions online show that each side is doing what the other condemns, and a growing divide in social and racial classes.

But how can we fix social divide caused by the Internet? Racism has had a long history in our country, and it doesn’t just disappear overnight. Similarly with real life, it is hard to get rid of all prejudices as these are beliefs engrained into the minds of some people since they were young. As a result, I believe that the only way really combat this issue is through openness and awareness of other people from different backgrounds.

Sorry for such a heavy post this time, however, I feel that this is a very important topic that needs to be addressed. I hope ya’ll enjoyed it, and let me know what you think!

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