Social Media & Participatory Culture

My generation loves quick and easy information, that’s why things like Siri and Wikipedia exist. So any person with internet access and some sort of electronic device could tell you within seconds that Participatory Culture can be defined as a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices, according to Google at least. But the value of information is limited when easy info is not explained in a deeper manner, so let’s take a closer look at what Participatory Culture truly is, and how social media is involved and engrained in it.

So in a more reasonable description, participatory culture in social media can be seen as simply the interaction between the availability of social media and the actual population’s involvement or engagement in how much that they use it. Social media is based and thrives off of the growing existence of participatory culture and without such, social media would begin to fade. To paraphrase the writings of Henry Jenkins, participatory culture is not the web itself, but it is its own entity supported and completely dependent by and on the existence of social media. So that means that as more of our society is placed into the hands of social media, the participation of our society’s members will undoubtedly have to grow to compensate, further proving the existence of participatory culture.

Now how does this impact my involvement in participatory culture? I think the piece by Henry Jenkins Ravi Purushotma, Margaret Weigel, Katie Clinton and Alice J. Robison when it was written “Many teens today who use the Internet are actively involved in participatory cultures — joining online communities (Facebook, message boards, game clans), producing creative work in new forms (digital sampling, modding, fan videomaking, fan fiction), working in teams to complete tasks and develop new knowledge (as in Wikipedia), and shaping the flow of media (as in blogging or podcasting).” It’s the fact that there are not only so many different and unique opportunities to be involved in participatory culture, but it is also the productivity piece of it. No longer are the days that social media is used purely for entertainment purposes, there are so many practical uses that draw me to participate in one or many social media platforms and communities, and that is why participatory culture will continue to grow, for me and many others like me.

“Social media unlike any other form of media is inherently participatory.” This opening quote from the Hinton & Hjorth article almost perfectly describes not the words of participatory culture, but more accurately the relationship between social media and participatory culture. Its existence will continue to grow as it continues to take hold of what society has to offer, the only thing that we can hope for is that participatory culture’s presence is one that is positive.

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