Spilling the Tea... Talking about Test #2

Congrats everyone, we’ve finished two tests for RHMS 270 and all we have left is the final exam! For Wednesday’s exam, the essay’s we answered were about networked individualism and how we present our identity online. I think it went well, but fate is in RHMS 270’s hands now (aka Daena).

I was hoping that we would have to answer question #1 during the exam because I had a ton of notes on the subject of social capital. Below is how I would have answered the essay question about social capital. Take a look and let me know what you think. Is it an A? Or am I scrapping for a C (or less)?

Is social capital declining or just changing now that we are able to communicate interpersonally through digital means as well as face-to-face? Take a stance and support it. You will need to write about specific features of social capital and connect them to changes in interpersonal media.

Social capital is defined by Rheingold as “an individual’s stock of resources that can emerge from sustained social relationships and the capacity of a population, a network or community, to accomplish collective action” (Rheingold 218). There are two aspects of social capital, the individual/private aspect and the collective/public aspect. Rheingold believed that social capital emerged primarily from the collective and public aspect, but the individual element is still possible. Within those two aspects, the type of social capital can be bridging or bonding. With this definition in mind, I believe that social capital is changing because we are able to communicate interpersonally through digital means, as well face-to-face. This communication is possible because of the strong digital networks established.

Baym argues that a community is established based on your meaning of the term community. She also says spending time online can enhance ones social capital. I define community as a group of people with common interest, which can a bonding attribute. I spend my time online interacting with communities that have similar interests as me, such as blogging. I don’t have this community with my daily face-to-face interactions, so having a community online allows me to explore this interest further.

Rainie and Wellman presented an argument for change that was about bridging via the Triple Revolution. They said that social networks, the internet, and the mobile revolution are creating more diverse, loosely-based networks. This is another example of how our social capital is changing because of the Triple Revolution. This can be seen as good or bad because it allows for more diversity and freedom but connections may not be as genuine because you don’t know the individual personally. From my personal experience, I see it as a good thing because you can reach people you may have never connected with and learn from their opinions.

Finally John Perry Barlow wrote an article called “Is There a There in Cyberspace?” He proposed the question, what is missing from online communities and talked about his experience with the digital Deadhead’s. He said that prana is missing, which is a Hindu term for breath and spirit. We have these digital communities in our lives, that we communicate with daily, yet we never actually met them and experience their offline personalities. It sounds a little cheesy, but these offline personalities are their breath and spirit. Even though the idea of prana is absent, he says its harder to leave these communities because they band together during adversity. An example of a community that bands together during adversity are LGBTQ+ individuals and how they use social capital as a resource for one another online.


That’s all for today folks, talk to ya next week!