Thursday, November 21, 2013

I Need Chocolate. On The Internet and Social Media

In the last few days I have drowned in information overload.  The Twitter is the worst culprit in that, because most every tweet is on a different topic and so many of those tweets wake up my inner critic who starts yelling that the data needs checking and a long post needs to be written on that topic or otherwise the world will turn upside down.

The only cure:  Chocolate truffles.  And possibly dogs (not to eat, of course, but to play with).

More generally, I was just struck by the manipulation the social media outlets employ to keep our eyeballs glued to the relevant screens.  The way Twitter shows retweets and follower numbers, the way you can't get rid of those numbers (though in Tweetdeck you can), those e-mails which tell you that you have tweets out there, those other e-mails which suggest more people you should follow.

And the "likes" on Facebook and even on Disqus.  I've heard that in some places teenagers on Facebook collect "followers." including people they have never met and know nothing about, because there is this measure of how adored one is and that measure needs to be worked to make it higher.  Some of that gathering instinct can result in teenagers posting stuff they should not be posting.  Even dangerous stuff.

Now I should have realized that any business tries to make consumers buy more, spend more time in its stores and on its webpages, but it never quite occurred to me to what extent the social media manipulates us.

After that rant, let me also note that easy access to all  information (and misinformation)  is wonderful and social media has many useful roles to play.