I read (in some study I don’t remember well enough to track down and cite) that social media users are rated as more interesting if they share links instead of sharing thoughts. I can’t attest to the validity of the study, but anecdotally, I think we’d all agree it rings true. Your friend talking about a delicious sandwich is infinitely less interesting and valuable than a funny video of a sandwich or even an article about sandwiches. Before the Twitterverse caught on to linking the shit out of everything, Twitter was a joke—as was (and is) anyone caught committing the reprehensible offense of tweeting a sentence that can’t be directly used as social currency.
Now that we hear our friends talking all day long, maybe it’s suddenly apparent how boring they are, how glamorless, how plain that they sit around for minutes on end just clipping their toenails instead of entertaining us. Maybe we just want every speck of information we encounter to be hilarious, worthwhile, and fascinating, and that’s simply too high a standard for a person who’s just in the business of being a person. Whatever the case, folks aren’t interested in you anymore; They’re interested in what you have to share.
I personally think that marks a rather significant shift in how the internet is used. If you aren’t creating as much unique, independent content, who is? Who’s making what we’re passing around? It’s gotta be brands. Not that there won’t always be a small percentage of “What What in the Butt” descendants—the internet allows almost anyone to become the next sensation, but there’s an increasing cultural disincentive for individuals to create. It’s punishable by lameness. So if that continues, I think we’ll see the internet start looking more like traditional media than it ever has, with people talking to each other about what the big makers of media have made for them.
I talk quite emphatically about points I try to make, but I’m not suggesting it’s entirely bad. After all, I’m currently vying for a job as a mass content-maker. It’s just different and arguably momentous. When folks share content and add their own thoughts and arts to them, it’s a fantastic blur of conversation between big and small voices. And individuals will always act as individuals. I mean, very few people make their own clothes anymore, but a man can still define himself by the clothes he chooses—same with the internet and the content one chooses to build a personality with. The Information Age is still going strong; It’s still a good thing. I’m just going to miss the proverbial sewing machines.
Now, who wants to RT my post?