Stop Calling It "Social Media"!
In Why I Unfollowed You on Instagram Ian Rogers provides insight into how he is tuning his use of “social media” to balance different information-seeking objectives. Here is how he describes what he’s looking for:
I’m looking for an intelligent feed of my interests. A feed of stuff I’m going to like, drawn from a white-list of trusted curators but personalized for me. Not specific to one vertical (News, Music, Stuff to Buy, etc) or one content type (movies, photos, text, links). Ordered by the most relevant, the stuff I need to see RIGHT NOW.
Good luck with that, Ian, was my first response. Given the different sources and how they’re changing one could spend all of one’s time curating and not have any time left for consuming, much less creating content!
I use a mix of services different from Ian’s (e.g., I prefer Google+ over Facebook) but the crux of his post is, I think, “…and Stop Calling it “Social Media.” The term “social” implies some sort of large or small group or community relationship and as you describe it some folks are just into the feed — being the feeder or the feedee.
A possible downside of being a bit too curative and selective in which feeds you follow is that you may tend to wall off people and ideas that might actually be useful or creatively stimulating. I first learned this when studying the process of how scientists seek information. Being able to specifically locate highly relevant information as part of a very targeted and focuses search is important. So, too, is the process of “browsing” via which you can run across ideas — perhaps from outside your own interests — that can stimulate thought or creativity. This is related to a phenomenon sometimes referred to as the “filter bubble” where it becomes possible to use selected information sources to establish and maintain a personal worldview that may significantly differ from reality.
Also, single sources of information feeds can prove to be exclusionary, as I discuss in “Forgive Me, Father, I Don’t Use Facebook. Using “social” networks to build a publishing or broadcasting infrastructure has the inevitable impact that those not part of that infrastructure can become excluded from participating. That has both positive and negative impacts.
Copyright (c) 2015 by Dennis D. McDonald