Social media and social class: does one perpetuate the other?

By Ivan Hernandez

Instagram & twitter: @iahl0914

Social classes are entrenched in our society. Nobody likes to talk about it or discuss it, but it’s a prominent characteristic in our society.  Economic division creates our cultural division, and the more distanced we are from each other the easier it is for elites to perpetuate the status quo, so is social media being used as another tool to divide and rule? Are the wealthy and powerful using social media as one of their power base controls for the perpetuation of social class? Is the associated status and exceptionalism related to social class the same as the one created by social media?

In this class, we have all learned how social media listening tools work, and for me this experience was like seeing how the NSA tools work for monitoring terrorism: in a word, scary. These tools control every single public mention on social media, and they have the control to monitor every single post made with your ID user if they wish to. Imagine if they had access to every single private media stream: emails, text messages, private social media messages, etc. Same principle though? Right? Reports on this are numerous. But, enough with the conspiracy theories, and back to the point.

What we do know is that the more economic power you have, the better the tools you can acquire to control your social media monitoring, and even worse, to control your competitor’s conversations, through sometimes vile and aggressive marketing campaigns. The more powerful the tool, the stronger your power to control the conversation, and to maintain control of the market.

Social media tools help companies identify when their products are not being talked about, resulting in new marketing campaigns aimed at keeping new products at peak exposure and keeping them always present in every social media outlet. Don’t you hate scrolling down your friends´ Instagram pictures and always having a Pepsi Co, Nike, Taco Bell or Apple add? Don’t you ever stop to think why it’s not a BuildOn, or Habitat for Humanity, or Doctors without Borders new weekly marketing campaign?

But think about it, do you think a small social enterprise that starts selling great tasting healthy soda drinks (let’s say that’s possible) can compete with these monster corporations and their brand exposure. Don´t those corporations have a paved road to success? A road paved by social media and these social media listening tools.

Are social media “likes” and “shares” not separating us more and more from the people that we used to know and care about. Look at it with the Trump campaign:  how many of us didn’t eliminate, “unfriend” or “unfollow” somebody we knew because they posted on the other side of our political views? How many of us do so without even a conversation behind the “unfollow”. Believe it or not, behind that political view there is another human being, struggling to make a decent living through their own path, that probably has or will have a family, and will love them or try to love them the same way we do ours. But we can now divide ourselves even more easily through social media, retreating into our own media bubbles.

This Article Has 4 Comments
  1. Marisa Cesare says:

    I thought this was a very interesting post that brought up some good points about corporations and small businesses. The idea that social media actually makes it harder for small businesses to flourish against the competition of large corporation’s social analytics almost defeats the purpose of social media.

  2. Brianna Martin says:

    Hi Ivan, this post was a fantastic alternative look on social media. The correlation between social media and social class is a unique area of focus, and it made me want to read your blog immediately. The reason I enjoyed your post was because it highlights a part of social media, PR, Marketing, and Advertising that I think is often under-emphasized: CULTURE. Recently in my Creative Strategy class, my GTF said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” He heard this quote from an unknown businessman in the marketing world, but he brought it to our attention because of it’s reality. The best techniques, strategies, and analysis on social media is nothing without simultaneously paying very close attention to culture. If you don’t know what’s going on in the world, you’ll have a hard time contributing to it.

  3. Erika Goto says:

    This was an interesting post that caught my attention immediately. I’ve never really thought about the connection between social media and social class. After reading your post, I can definitely see how the two can be connected. It reminds me of the concept of how those who are well off have a paved path to success whereas others who don’t get that boost have to work extra hard to get recognized. Now that I think about it more, social class clearly influences many factors that one would not think of on a daily basis.

  4. Justin Goettsch says:

    The inequality of resource(s), whatever they might separate people, businesses, etc. I didn’t draw that connection between social media but now that you mention it, there is definitely a large discrepancy that emerges. As a nonprofit person, this has been and continues to be troubling as we will be going up against eyeballs that larger companies can make it rain on advertising budgets. We are at a significant disadvantage as are social groups. Good read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *