In a New York Times article written last June called Internet Geeks and Freaks, author Virginia Heffernan argues that the reason minorities revel in social media’s culture is the same reason these groups also reveled in the disco movement of the 1970’s. She contends that the reason that this culture composed of women, homosexuals, and nonwhites embrace the new age of social media so enthusiastically is because it is a chance to take a stand against the establishment. A chance to look at the conservative, rich, white males of society and the popular norms they have established and rebel. She predicts a time in the near future where these conservative white males of society will fight back just as they did in the 1970s with anti-disco riots intended to destroy disco and return music to an age of rock and roll. Heffernan implies that cyber riots similar in nature will arise soon and look to return the web to its former days.
Heffernan is dead-on with her point that just as disco gave these minorities a chance to express themselves to all of America, so does social media give these same groups an opportunity for constant self-expression. You no longer have to be well-educated and well-spoken for the world to hear you; instead all you have to do is be different to get your 15 minutes of fame. This is best illustrated in Twitter and YouTube, Heffernan uses the example of Antoine Dodson who became an internet sensation when his quote on rape, “Hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband, because they’re raping everybody out here” that he said on a news station in Huntsville, Alabama and was made into a YouTube remix. One sentence and the 15 minutes of fame that came along with it was literally all it took to bring this man out of the projects and into a safe home.
The problem with Heffernan’s argument is not her point about the ability of the underdog’s of society to express themselves through social media, but instead her prediction that the white, power elite of America will soon begin to riot. She has underestimated the power of social media. Yes, in a sense social media is like disco, but the bottom line is SOCIAL MEDIA > DISCO. It is not just a small categorized subculture of society but a reinvention of society as a whole. White, power elite America cannot even ignore social media let alone rebel against it, instead they have tried to embrace it. Politicians now have Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. The people of power have realized that unlike disco, social media is not going away, instead it is evolving and they can either embrace it or get left behind in its dust. Social media is not something that in 2040 will be looked back on and thought of as a “crazy and freaky” part of the 2000s and 2010s. Instead, people who experience an exponentially evolved version of social media will look back and see the seed of social media that began to grow during this generation. A seed that will not die, like disco did. SOCIAL MEDIA > DISCO.