We have access to many social media platforms today. We get glimpses into the lives that friends and acquaintances would like us believe they lead. But this more information does not lead to an idea that we can either know, share or articulate. We do not know how we are better off as a result of being immersed in these expressions of sociality. Inhibition, envy, feelings of insufficiency or just feeling plain overwhelmed are common effects of unguarded social media exposure. This is because a large part of the social media postings lack any content-value, be it news, information or noteworthiness. On the other hand, these social media posts seem to convey the self-confidence and conviction that makes almost everyone slightly hesitant in dismissing them. The general “tone of social media” is very publicity oriented and assumes a vast audience and sometimes ends up creating it. That becomes the amusing detail – that when specific people do not have a vast audience, they have a declarative/public address kind of tone! When individuals do actually have a vast audience, they in fact seem to have a very casual and easy attitude.
The meaning of celebrity seems to be to feel loved publicly and to revel in publicity and not shun it. Of course celebrities need their own private time and often they have a hard time to take time off from the public glare. Here, we are talking only about social media celebrities on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These celebrities of the virtual world are generally able to convert the relationship they have with their followers into real world connections for business. This makes us feel that this is a necessary method that all of us need to follow to seek personal fulfilment. So, besides having people who genuinely have a following, social media is also full of people trying very hard to gain a following. This makes the people who are doing interesting work compete with people who are essentially just creating noise to attract a following. This does not work. This is not a productive competition which yields any important outputs.
Social media is not interesting anymore for those who are doing genuine work. It has become an extension of the socialite circus and the machinery of celebrity. What does this mean for companies, entrepreneurs and practitioners who are generally trying to reach an interested audience?
In some ways it means to go back to our roots:
- The community has neglected their websites by adopting social media channels as the primary platform for the content that they generate. The internet works with public websites and not walled gardens (social media) – now we need to go back to the difficult work of making our websites work with search engines again.
- Doing things offline and using the Internet to document the offline activity is a significantly different order of activity than living digitally – now we need to go back to our lives and start activating different circuits offline.
- “Meeting on social media” and comparing people’s public life with our private life is corrosive and it does not serve anybody – we need to substantially change our motivation to follow people and their digital social lives.
Digital social media and the cloud has consumed a large part of the potential that the Internet held for us. The Internet of self-hosted websites, forums and such… has largely been replaced by generic grid-based websites and centrally hosted software applications. Free Software activists speak about our loss of freedom and flexibility as a result. I would like to draw your attention to our collective loss of individualistic expression.