The New Media Revolution Within a Queer-Subculture: The Downside & Legitimate Cynicism
In this series, I have discussed the potential, possibility and overall positive promise of new media in the queer community of color. From health and education on bgclive.com, to using Facebook as a tool to break down decades of invisibility within identity politics— I now must ask myself, is it all just a bunch of hype? Should we be so naive as to think that new media is really changing democracy or politics, or even the social interactions of queer communities of color? Or, is New Media simply retelling the same stale story? I must admit that all of my thoughts and ideas are rooted in the concept of hope and optimism. In a world where people cannot even blow their nose without being criticized for it, I think it provides some balance to the universe to generally focus on the light at the end of the dark tunnel. However, I also believe any project without nuance is doing an injustice to the discourse. Thus, this blog is to bring all the new media revolutionaries back down to earth. I think we can understand the potential while taking into consideration limitations.
I do not believe that New Media is good—in everyway. I understand the positives that come with new media (just read my last three blogs, im rooting for it), however, far too many times people only focused on what is good, and individuals seem to ignore the consequences that comes from new technologies. I believe New Media can be a good thing, but to receive all the benefits of this “good thing” you must be white, wealthy, male, and have an education from an elite college or university. I believe that new media only reiterates the power structures that exist between privileged and marginalized groups in society. Craig Watkins in his book titled the Young and the Digital, argues that deep socialization and offline politics translates to people’s online lives. This statement can be taken further to say that the abilities and benefits that people receive offline are translated to people’s online lives. Using the foundation that Watkins gives us, I find that New Media only re-asserts and makes concrete the oppressions and systemic barriers that already exists in the world that we live in. If New Media facilitates further privilege and marginalization, can it actually be good for queer communities of color? As we know there are minor benefits, but within a macro-level analysis will it only hurt this community in the long run?
Matthew Hindman in The Myth of Digital Democracy makes an even more convincing argument when he talks about gatekeepers on the Internet. New Media not only highlights the voices of those who are already heard (this comes from the idea of googlearchy, and the winner take all effect), but New Media takes another step and becomes even more dangerous by creating a false dichotomy. This false dichotomy revolves around the idea that people like to highlight when they say “the internet allows more people to have their voice heard.” New Media (particularly blogs and videos) creates a world where people are allowed to speak, but very rarely be heard.
The most popular blogs and the ones who are “heard” the most are usually written by elite educated authors, that have JD’s, MD’s, BA’s, PhD’s and a plethora of other degrees that represent a historical and systemic barrier that has been wedged in the lives of those who are privileged and those who are tagged as “at-risk.” I am cynical at times about how “good” New Media can be for both politics, but also for the lives of queer communities who are still struggling to be heard in a society that marginalizes us.
Overall, I am still left with a glimmer of hope. The part inside of me that refuses to ignore what can be imagined. I refuse to ignore the positive impacts of new media, but also find this blog important to add nuance to this discourse.