Participatory Culture in Social Media

Participatory culture was not a term I was very familiar with before researching the topic for CI 3342, even though it has been relevant in my life and social media use for many years now. According to media scholar Henry Jenkins, “A participatory culture is 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. A participatory culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created)” (Jenkins, Puroshotma, Clinton, Weigel, & Robison, 2009). Participatory culture relates to social media because social media allows for free expression of content where users can create, inform, and share with people from all over the world and create their own unique culture with their specialed feed and followers. From chapter four of Understanding Social Media, this quote “Unlike the mass media before it, social media is fundamentally a participative medium. Our online experience increasingly involves methods of actively providing information about what we are doing or what we think of something,” explains why participation is what is essential to social media (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). By the definition above, social media applications like Instagram or Twitter are prime examples of participatory culture because they also create content, whether it is an artistic talent or civic engagement, and then interact with others and their posts, enabling social connections to be formed between users.

When I think about participatory culture, I first think of the sheer number of social media users. Mostly everyone has some form of a social media account where they can share content and like and comment on others. That participation in media has created a culture where people are more connected to their online profiles than they are in real life. I think this is what has fascinated the younger generations of the world about social media. There is a whole other world for them to engage in with social media. The entire online world is practically its own culture with social norms and traditions. There is a form of social media etiquette that somehow everyone knows how to follow even though there’s no written rules except for privacy information. It’s crazy to think that a whole revolution of social media has happened because people chose to participate through a website liking each other’s content.

My own social media participation includes having active accounts and profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, VSCO, and Snapchat. And maybe a few more now that I think about it. I am on social media multiple times a day, going through stories and posts on my feed. I usually like my favorite thing di see that day but, of course, always hype up my friends on social media with likes and comments on their page. What motivates me to participate in all of these online apps is that everyone else my age is also very involved, and it’s fun to keep up with different people around the world and get a little insight into what their lives are like. I feel like I follow a few influencers because I really like their style or makeup, which motivates met engage with their posts. I also follow so many cheerleading teams’ accounts to keep up those respective teams because I have been so involved in cheerleading that it is hard to not see a full feed of cheer every day.

With the pandemic, I would say I am on social media probably way more than I used to, especially TikTok. When you’re bored in the house, it’s easy to entertain yourself with a social media app. TikTok took over the social media world during the pandemic. Many users create hilarious content that engages me for hours when I scroll o there. I also used social media to stay in touch with everyone I could not see face to face. I could easily send them a Snapchat to see how they were doing. While I feel like i don’t post a lot on social media because I’m not doing much during this pandemic, I know others are, so it’s cool to watch on my screen, and maybe someday I could go experience the same thing with the vaccine.