Monday, November 16, 2009

Comparing and Contrasting Boyd + Bennett Article

Both of these articles by Danah Boyd and Lance Bennett discuss and assess the emergence of social networking sites in relation to the effects they are having on young people, and our democratic society as a whole. Both authors agree fundamentally that these sites (such as Facebook and Myspace), have led to a generation less involved and interested in participating in mainstream, traditional avenues of civic participation and democratic activity. Bennett even goes as far to list the characteristics of what he sees as the two distinct groups of people in our society today: Dutiful citizens, who represent the old generation, and Actualizing Citizens, who represent today's generation. Concerning SNSs, both authors agree that they are not being used to their full potential as a network for the spread of democratic and useful ideas. Rather, Boyd believes that youths are far too enraptured in using the sites as platforms to display and draw attention to themselves from a large community of "friends" to ever use the sites to their full potential for creating serious actions/changes. Similarly, Bennett believes that the majority of today's young people generally use the sites for a means of self fulfillment. Both authors point to a lack of motivation within this generation as the reasoning for such a decline in traditional civic participation. Boyd concludes his article by stating this lack of motivation problem, and makes clear it is a problem that needs to be fixed, but never really offers any potential solution. Bennett suggests that we figure out ways to combine the defining characteristics that typify a Dutiful Citizen and Actualizing citizen in order to encourage more motivated behavior in large forums amongst youths. He states that the old generation of Dutiful citizens must embrace the influx of new social mediums like facebook rather than reject them, and furthermore within our education systems begin to educate youths on how to utilize social networking sites to their fullest capabilities.

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