So here it is: The Social Media Revolution…. isn’t it?
What was hyped in the beginning as a revolution which was supposed to dramatically change the way we interact with people and in which everyone can have a say and will be heard, a democratization of the internet, is far from being true. In fact, the Utopian version of a Brave New World where everyone is connected to everyone surrounded by a system of open dialogue, as Fenton (2010) fittingly points out, could easily turn into a mass of conform “likes”.
I mean that’s what we do on Facebook, don’t we? Scrolling down the ‘News Feed’ looking and scanning for photos, videos, status updates, check-ins etc. of our friends or acquaintances and then, if we like something, we just hit this little button.
Okay well, sometimes it goes a bit further as we even post a comment underneath.
But then: Done.
With regards to this, Sam Fiorella wrote an interesting article about the nowadays prevalent “Culture of likes”. In his view, the “like” phenomenon can be explained by certain sociological behaviour and needs, such as for example the pressure to conform to group thinking or people’s need for love and belonging. Thus, liking the same things or collectively agreeing provides a certain sense of stability and security.
Taking on a rather exaggerated perspective, the promised open dialogue and public debate in social media and on the Internet could in fact be nothing more than the net sum of ‘Likes’, ‘Shares’ and ‘Tweets’.
We actually have to admit: Most people like the “Likes.” If you post something, which generates a lot of likes, you feel – if you’re honest to yourself- quite proud and affirmed, right?
So why do these “Likes” really matter?
In general, agreeing with Sam Fiorella, people’s crave for love and belonging and our need to attach us to people who empathize with us and share the same points of view has found a perfect surrounding on social media.
There have also been a lot of studies with regards to this and one major point, made by Toma and Hancock in their study on Facebook use, is that the affirmation, for example in the form of ‘likes’, supports an individual’s ego and helps to preserve self-worth.
On the contrary, does that mean that no or only few ‘likes’ would make us unhappy?
The author, Alexandra Sifferlin, points out that the findings of a recent study on Facebook use showed that the more time we spent on Facebook, the worse we feel. Among other reasons, she also mentions that people felt frustrated or not that respected when they have fewer comments or likes compared to other Facebook friends.
I would say that this is probably true for some people and Facebook may indeed have a certain influence on the mood of us but the extent of it probably also relates to an individual’s state of mind and his general self-confidence.
Anyway, this makes me think of the fact that there is no “Dislike” button on Facebook. Considering the previous mentioned study, it’s probably a good thing.
However, it also leads me again to the beginning of my post and the apparent lack of different opinions and proper public debate on social media.
Why can we only express agreement, but no disagreement?
It might have something to do with the fact, that we are simply not ready.
Yes, it may sound weird. But actually, if you look at platforms, such as news websites with commentary features, where public opinion and debate is apparently encouraged, almost every discussion leads to a point where people get offensive. Greg Jericho , for example, also talks about this in his book. He highlights that trolling and toxic comments, which are argued to made public conversations and debate impossible, can be found everywhere online, especially underneath news articles. So thanks to the Internet’s anonymity, people seemingly just jump on everyone who has simply a different opinion on a topic – in Facebook’s language that would mean – on people who wouldn’t push the “like” button but rather the “I wouldn’t necessarily agree because…” button instead.
So where does this leave us?
Are we really unable to have respectful and constructive dialogue and accept different opinions online?
Can we handle “Dislikes”?
I think, we probably still have to learn it.
Until we are ready… Facebook will just let us keep ‘liking’ things.
A friend of mine recently posted the following picture on Facebook and I think it perfectly relates to this post.
It makes me laugh because it’s so honestly true.
Fenton, N 2010, New Media, Old News, Sage, London.
- Why Facebook makes you feel bad about yourself (time.com)
- Behold the PR Power of the “Like” Button (mediabistro.com)
- Social Media: Don’t fear negative content (thegazette.com)
- Want To Be “Liked”? There’s A Virus For That (zerohedge.com)
In recent years, there have been thousands of panels, conferences and research studies on the future of the media, especially of social media.
What becomes apparent is that the future will be shaped by various factors:
…. new technologies, such as NFC (Near-Field-Communication), smart home applications, or inventions such as Google Glasses and many more…
… continuous innovations around social media and communication tools, such as Facebook’s facial recognition, Snapchat etc. and, which is more interesting, the combination of those…
… as well as changes in consumer usage and habits, such as the increasing significance of photo sharing photos, the trend away from big networks towards rather smaller, niche networks, such as Pinterest, the continuously rising “selfie culture” and so on and on…
FutureMedia executive director Renu Kulkarni highlights six most critical and distinct trends for the future of media, which, in my view, broadly summarize recent and future developments in an interesting way.
Asked by the Business Insider what the future of social media would look like, Charlene Li, partner & founder of Altimeter Group, said
The future of social media is…
…going to be like air. It will be anywhere and everywhere you need and want it to be. It will be seamlessly built into our everyday experiences, rather than shoe horned into the corners of websites. And like air, if it isn’t around, you will feel like you can’t truly breath and live.
I think that her view very interesting and, most of all, true as it incorporates much of the above mentioned six trends while also acknowledging the fact that social media has already and will even further become a normality in our lives; probably until the day that the word “Social Media” will simply die out as a distinction to other media won’t be visible or notable anymore.
For those further interest in the topic around the future of social media. Go and have a look on 10 Social Media Brands That Will Still Matter In The Future.
- Technologies Shaping The Future of Social Media (slideshare.net)
- What is the future of social media? (alizasherman.com)
- Social Media Begins Before Birth [100 Words Into The Future] (plus.google.com)
Twitter. Everyone has heard about it. Some know what it is. A few use it regularly.
I mean not really.
Well, I have an account but that’s it.
All the time spent in the Twittersphere has been rather work for me than pleasure until now. I just can’t really connect to it yet. But I swear, I’ll keep on trying.
Okay let’s first see what Twitter really is.
Twitter is a social media service that allows people to connect in real-time to the latest news, opinions and topics. In fact, it’s about short data messages containing not more than 140 characters, which are distributed online by a variety of official and unofficial sources; that is from you and me, but also from big companies, such as BBC News, or celebrities, such as Justin Bieber (who btw leads the TOP 100 Twitter ranking in terms of followers).
It’s a micro-blogging service that has been described and analysed in various ways by scholars and non-scholars; especially, since it has become a major and important communication tool during crisis or other breaking news events, such as the Mumbai attacks, the Iranian election protests of 2009, or, very recently, the Boston Marathon Bombings. In addition, Techradar gives an interesting overview about 10 news stories that broke on Twitter first.
I clearly understand the noticeable significance of Twitter in these kind of circumstances as Twitter’s immediacy and ability to provide “news first” via witness accounts, photos, soundbites and immediate reactions to that extent can be evaluated as unique within today’s online world. Some scholars, such as Malone et al. (2009) refer to it as “collective intelligence”, which enables millions of people to communicate directly, sharing and discussing events.
I mean apparently a lot of people use it. A nice and compact infographic, 20 amazing Twitter stats, gives us an impression how BIG it really is.
But, for me personally, I don’t see the point yet, particularly beyond the case of breaking news events.
I don’t really know what to share and why?
Most of the things people share are not interesting to me.
Most companies use it as an advertising tool and I don’t want to be exposed to it.
It’s another time-consuming thing and I already have no time.
I admit that during breaking news, it can provide faster information, which could be interesting. But it then still lacks verification. So it’s rather an entertaining tool than really an informational tool, I would say. You can follow in real-time the process of making sense of the flow of information. I guess that’s cool, if you’re in for something like that. But in the end, I would I would still rely on (hopefully) verified information from big news organizations.
But maybe I haven’t understand it completely yet. So I probably should just throw me out there and try again.
Malone, T. W, Laubacher, R & Dellarocas, C 2009, ‘Harnessing Crowds: mapping the genome of collective intelligence’, MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4732-09, retrieved on 14.09.2013, from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1381502