Participation online has become second nature to users of all kind with the new generation of the internet and worldwide web – Web 2.0. The regular users of the internet are familiar with the various internet sites that require daily and constant participation such as Facebook, Twitter, blogging sites etc, while others may simply use e-mail accounts as their modes of participation in online culture. Then there is the gamer culture – the online gaming sites which require users to participate and directly interact with other gamers online.
Within contemporary digital culture I have noticed it has become necessary to be a participant online for various reasons – to create an online presence to promote businesses/yourself, to keep up to date on the world and in contact with others and even to increase business by establishing the option to shop online for your business. My take on participatory digital culture today is that of a double life. We basically have our online presence/lives where we follow and participate with those that we choose to on the various social media sites and then our real lives with the people we interact with on a daily basis. Career networking and opportunities have turned participatory also with the establishment of the LinkedIn site where one has to join and update their account regularly so that they will show up when searched by potential employers and coworkers to find them. Today’s digital culture has made “on the go” or “from your home” participation that much easier so that we never miss a thing that is happening in our online lives and can participate right from our phones, tablets and even now straight from our television sets.
With the gamer culture online and constantly interacting with numerous people from around the world while playing these games and building teams, gamers form friendships with these ‘virtual’ beings and I have known people who have formed real life in person friendships with gamers who live in other cities. I have a friend from Hamilton who became really good friends with another gamer in Halifax, who I in turn became really good friends with. It is quite amazing how life events like that can happen. I met one of my best friends from my fan account on twitter, she lives in Florida, and she found my twitter account through my tweets and started replying to them because she liked what I posted. From that we started talking and got to know each other and realised we were basically like long lost sisters. Participatory culture- improving our networks and friendships and making the phrase ‘global village’ more relevant day by day.
I am very much a participant online. I am on all the main social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram – with my own YouTube account also. I run two Tumblr blogs and about 3 different Twitter accounts which I update frequently. Responding to tweets, commenting and blogs can make a difference if used correctly and this type of participation is something I believe in. For example this type of participation is mostly used in the entertainment industry where producers, writers and directors use Twitter and Facebook to poll their audiences about what they like and want to see; it is also how the celebrities keep in touch with their fans and learn the same thing. This is how users/audiences can have an impact on their favourite show or with their favourite celebrity.
I measure participation by how frequently a user uses their account to tweet, posts online or comment on online content – in my opinion that determines how dedicated they are to the account they have created. I believe participation online can be a bit too emancipatory with some users using the possible anonymity to be hostile and rude online. Some users do abuse the online forum by being hateful online without reason.
Tradeoffs to participation online could be seen as simply creating accounts and observing the other user activity taking place with minimal or no interaction (participation) with them or the content being shared. These would be the Facebook accounts that you forget you are friends with because they never post or participate on Facebook, the Tumblr accounts that follow you but there is no activity and the Twitter accounts that follow you but never tweet anything of their own.