Participatory Culture in Social Media: The Active Role as both Consumer and Producer

What participatory culture theory means to me is the ability for individuals to be both the producer and the consumer within the same medium. For example, this is commonly seen on social media planforms such as Twitter, which allows users to provide text and video content to a mass audience, but also take in and interact with others content, using it to learn and inspire. It is analogous to someone sitting in the audience of a play but also having a role in the play as well and constantly go back and forth between actor and observer.

When assessing my own participation on social media, I believe that in his TedTalk video, Henry Jenkins saying that social media has “become a meeting point and a place of exchange, only it’s an exchange not rooted geographically, but rooted on a global scale” (Jenkins, 2010 https://youtu.be/AFCLKa0XRlw), is a direct reflection of my participation. Often times, I find myself going down rabbit holes on the internet and on social media of which lead me to various communities. For example, a social media community may all follow and have fan accounts of their favorite artist. These accounts and interactions become merely a meeting point for individuals to discuss things beyond the artist, but rather personal life events. To me, that is my favorite part of what social media does. It is able to create an interconnectedness on a global scale.

Personally, I do not post a lot on social media so I would consider myself more of a consumer and observer. I will occasionally repost things but I enjoy taking in all that social media has to offer. I find that now I will go on and look at music, art, sports, comedy, etc. more often then I used to because it is also a source of entertainment and I am able to learn new things while consuming and being entertained.

My biggest take away from this week was when Henry Jenkins stated that “Peter Parker belongs in a society where adults and young people are equals” (Jenkins). I believe this is a very strong statement because social media does create a level playing field for everyone as long as one is digitally literate. By this, I mean that because people are not face to face, it harder to tell everything about an individual (age, height, stature, voice, etc.). This allows people to not be judged at first sight and allows for almost a “clean slate” when interacting and/or meeting someone new.

Ultimately, I believe it is important to understand the interworking of social media use in order to be a responsible producer and consumer.

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