The explosion of Social Media over recent years has thrown up all sorts of fascinating sociological paradigms. We have to thank Twitter for helping engineer the Arab Spring, Facebook for catching up with friends, and Youtube for making the secretive machinations of oppressive regimes all the more difficult to conceal. There are numerous examples of the good that Social Media has brought to our increasingly fragile world, and there will doubtless be more to come.
But among all the brilliance of Social Media, there are inevitably demons lurking within. Obviously nobody is trumpeting the rise of cyber-bullying, the open platforms for ranting extremists or the accessibility of a Daily Mail comments page. Actually, those last two are pretty much the same thing, but anyway…
Whatever the ying and yang of Social Media, something else seems to have pervaded our collective online consciousness – particularly for those of us who use social media regularly. Namely, we have all become narcissists. Even the most modest and placid among us seem to have a field day, telling all and sundry about the minutiae of their lives, when let loose on a Facebook status or a Tweet. This blog advertises my own guilt here; the fact that I’m typing away, voicing my opinions on this and that, assumes there are people out there who actually care what I think about such things.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning people for announcing to their 1762 ‘friends’ matters of import or joy (or sometimes misery…often misery, in fact). It’s just that the Social Media world seems so, I don’t know, cluttered.
In the old days, if we had something to share with our friends we would call or meet them. And because we had to go to some physical lengths to do this, you could rest assured that the topic would be of relative importance. Today, we have Social Media, so we don’t have to get off our backsides and tell people our news any more. We can type it in less than 140 characters and know that most people in our social circle will learn of it within 24 hours max. So…what’s wrong with that? Nothing. It’s great. I love it.
Would a friend call me up to tell me they had just eaten a nice pizza, been for a particularly satisfying run or bought a new pig for their virtual farm? Nope. Or if they did, they wouldn’t be friends for long! The point is that a lot of people now litter the Internet with matters of absolutely no interest whatsoever; things that very often don’t ‘bring anything to the party’ at all. That’s not to say that every update or tweet has to be of particular interest to me. But I’ve had to hide some people from my Facebook ‘wall’ for bombarding it every five minutes with a litany of utter irrelevance.
I could go on. I’m not pretending to be whiter-than-white here – somebody could no doubt call hypocrisy somewhere – but I think that there needs to be debate about this. I’m not calling for bans or rules (you can go to the Daily Mail site for that). But if we go on creating so much unnecessary noise, we could end up drowning out the whole Social Media goodness that there is.