A Digital Ghetto

Dr. Danah Boyd, PhD Here’s a laughable article about the “findings” of a woman, Danah Boyd, who would be equally laughable except that there are fools who would listen to her mouthings.

Dr. Danah Boyd, a Liberal ethnographer who unsurprisingly graduated from University of California (Berkeley), doesn’t seem to like the fact that people who are allowed choices gravitate towards communities of similar interest.

From News.com.au:

A “WHITE flight” to Facebook has turned MySpace into a black ghetto, according to a social analyst in the US.

Danah Boyd said Facebook’s arrival sparked a migration from MySpace of white users, the educated and the wealthy, while non-whites had stuck together on MySpace.

MySpace is owned by News Corp, the parent company of the publisher of NEWS.com.au.

“It wasn’t just anyone who left MySpace to go to Facebook,” Ms Boyd, who works with Microsoft Research New England, told a crowd at New York’s Democracy Forum.

“We might as well face an uncomfortable reality … what happened was modern day ‘white flight’.”

Ms Boyd said MySpace had become a digital “ghetto”.

“The people there are more likely to be brown or black and to have a set of values that terrifies white society,” she said.

Her interviews with American teenagers since 2006 showed that online migration mimicked the patterns of class groups’ movements across cities.

I suppose one has to expect this sort of attitude from a Liberal White woman who was so thoroughly (mis)educated and indoctrinated by UC Berkeley. It’s sad though that she keeps having an audience for her rantings.

Even if one leaves aside the fact that Facebook and MySpace operate in vastly different ways from and end-user perspective and would naturally appeal to different sorts of people, one still would be left wondering why Dr. Boyd would find it so wrong for people to associate with whom they wished to?

The people there are more likely to be brown or black and to have a set of values that terrifies white society

It seems natural to me for people to want to disassociate themselves from people who have a “set of values” that terrifies them. Of course Dr. Boyd’s deliberate insertion of race into the statement is designed to make that choice of disassociation sound wrong and to gloss over the fact that those “values” might well be inimical to society as whole.

And why doesn’t Dr. Boyd lambaste these Blacks and Hispanics for bitterly clinging to their slow-loading customized themes and cheesy background music? Why is it White Flight instead?

The article from News.com.au doesn’t really do justice to Dr. Boyd’s assertions though. Her own “rough unedited crib of the actual talk” of her “dissertation” to the Personal Democracy Forum can be found here, though I’ve included a few excerpts from her spiel to the gathered group of Liberal politicos:

Herein lies the reality that makes all of this quite messy to deal with. It wasn’t just anyone who left MySpace to go to Facebook. In fact, if we want to get to the crux of what unfolded, we might as well face an uncomfortable reality… What happened was modern day “white flight.” Whites were more likely to leave or choose Facebook. The educated were more likely to leave or choose Facebook. Those from wealthier backgrounds were more likely to leave or choose Facebook. Those from the suburbs were more likely to leave or choose Facebook. Those who deserted MySpace did so by “choice” but their decision to do so was wrapped up in their connections to others, in their belief that a more peaceful, quiet, less-public space would be more idyllic.

Or…non-Whites, the uneducated, and the poorer people were more likely to stay with MySpace. Those who shunned Facebook and cleaved to MySpace did so by “choice” but their decision to do so was wrapped up in their connections to others, in their belief that a more rambunctious, loud – literally due to the auto-playing background music – more-public space would suit them better.

But of course, in the mind of an ethno-guiltism-ridden Liberal, it’s always “White Flight.”

But here’s the main issue with social divisions. We can accept when people choose to connect to people who are like them and not friend different others. But can we accept when institutions and services only support a portion of the network?

Can we accept…? That’s an ominous question in this context when it is asked of Liberal politicians. It seems to cry out for action on their part to “rectify” this disparity that is caused by choice and freedom of association.

My hope is that each and every one of you might begin looking at social media with a critical eye. This is a tremendous time, filled with inspiring case studies. But it’s also a harrowing time where pervasive social stratification is being reified in a new era. If we don’t address this head on, inequality will develop deeper roots that will further cement divisions in our lives. Please don’t look the other way. Please use this as an opportunity to face our societal issues head-on.

And just how does Dr. Boyd hope these politicians will “address this head on?” I’m fairly sure that, if it were possible and feasible to address the supposed issue of the demographics of individual social media networks, it would be done at the expense of the Whites, Educated, and Wealthier. Any other course of action would violate the sensibilities of Liberals.

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3 Responses to “A Digital Ghetto”

  1. zhann Says:

    Wow, that is insane! Ignorance is an understatement here, it seems like she is intentionally trying to fuel some fire. I haven’t read her entire unedited article, but I will take a look at it later. To think that she managed media attention with this is amazing, it seems that this is another slow news day for many media outlets.

    Claiming a “White Fight” seems such a blatant misconsepcion, it boggles the mind that she missed the blaring truth that people choose where to go. If someone want to use Facebook, it is their free choice. Those that don’t choose to migrate likely do that for a reason asside from race. Once a racist, always a racist.

    One last note, simply because she is a liberal does not in any way imply that all liberals are like her. You should know better. Using her as a prime example of liberals is similar to using Hitler as the prime conservative.

    … stolen

  2. jonolan Says:


    She’s a Liberal and indicative of their ilk. It’s not my fault that they’ve moved the bars for both Liberal and Conservatives as far outwards as they have in recent years.

    What was a Liberal or a Conservative is now closer to a Moderate or Centrist.

    I suppose I should make some more vocal distinction though between small-l and capital-L Liberals though, much as I do with feminists and Feminists.

  3. A Digital Ghetto | Mizozo Says:

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