Will social media cause the end of the world?
In short, no. Let’s explore further though.
This question and similar were present at Social Media Week 2016, alongside the overarching theme of the ‘invisible hand of social media’, referring to algorithms, bots and next-level targeting that follows us around our favourite websites like a friend that you thought you liked, but now can’t stand. It’s annoying right? But, not the leading cause for the demise of the world as we know it, surely? Well, no. Something unnerving is happening though.
Let’s talk about Brexit (again). Cast your mind back to the way that you voted, in or out. Have a think about how you made your decision. For many of us, that included chatting to friends and colleagues, reading the papers on our commute, googling “what happens if we leave/stay” and of course, checking our social news feeds.
Around 2 billion people are on Facebook, checking it 14ish times a day. With the latest algorithms, when you check your feed you’ll only see posts from your fav people. Great, right? No. This is awful. Most the time you surround yourself offline and online with people you like. People who have the same values and opinions as you. How many of you culled your Facebook when you saw people with the opposing view, slapped there as their status? Or were shocked when the vote didn’t go the way everyone you know wanted?
This is the equivalent of turning up at a meeting, telling everyone your idea and everyone saying “Exactly what I thought, nothing to add. Let’s go for it.”. Whilst, this sounds beautiful (it really does), imagine that happening every single meeting. It’s so one-sided and unchallenging. Whilst this emperor-has-no-clothes style is fine when you share personal updates, it’s scary when wider issues are shared in just one light.
Facebook is incredible and as a Digital marketer, I’m a fan. However, they are moving to be an all consuming platform that you’ll never need to leave, the ‘new internet’ was a comment heard last week. Let’s just hope they continue to address the issue of curation, as they seem to be.
Who’s the real saviour in this end of the world scenario? Firstly, you. Everyone has a responsibility to themselves at the least to explore multiple angles before making a decision.
Secondly, Twitter or one of the newer social media platforms like Snapchat. This might be the moment where the rest of the attendees from Social Media Week disagree, as it’s been widely reported that Twitter’s growth is struggling. However, it remains an organic channel, with limited curation and censorship (Hi, Donald Trump) and frankly, the one place you can access breaking news and a flurry of different opinions.
Image credit: © socialmediaweek.org