QCQ 3 – Rheingold

QCQ for “Participation Power” 

by Howard Rheingold


“Michael Wesch … observes, ‘We use social media in the classroom not because our students use it, but because we are afraid that social media might be using them–that they are using social media blindly, without recognition of the new challenges and opportunities they might create’” (Rheingold 136).


This quote stood out to me because it addressed some of the concerns that I was having while reading through his paper. In my opinion, using social media blindly is not only very common but is very destructive. With all the talk of utilizing social media as a tool to portray a positively skewed version that other online personas will use to perceive who you are, it may result in diminished self-esteem of your real-world self. Not only that, but the large companies can also utilize your data to sell you products and thus, make you even more addicted to their platform (just look at TikTok). 

However, I do think that classes like this one can teach us to utilize social media effectively and take advantage of the platforms by knowing in what ways they operate. I think the “friendship-driven” versus “interest-driven” (118) genres of participation culture illustrates this well. Especially with our blogs, this class will very much be an interest-driven class. When I walked in, I didn’t recognize a signal face, and because of that I somehow felt more comfortable blog about something I care about. As a person who is probably one of the most anti-social media people you will meet, I liked this change of pace in my attitude towards social media platforms. 

By taking classes that teach us how to create those “new challenges and opportunities” (136), people like me can also learn how to curate and navigate social media platforms in a way that is most suitable for them. You won’t find me on platforms such as Instagram or TikTok, but a blog is a different story. I find myself favoring the interest-driven genre of participation culture much more than the friendship-driven one, because instead of curating the most perfect version of myself and putting it out, instead I can contribute to a body of knowledge of something I care about and that’s fun for me to write about.


Is there a way to strike a happy medium between friendship- and interest-driven participation in social media, and what are the benefits and drawbacks of each? (For group): Have you noticed yourself approaching social media in this class differently than you normally do? Why?