Twit by name, Twitter by nature?

30 07 2011

(licensed under creative commons)

One of the topics that particularly interests me is the effect that social media is having on society and individuals. The impact is felt in most areas of life – work, social life, health, education, identity. As an information-junkie (who subscribes to a large number of news Facebook and Twitter feeds), I recognise the positive benefits of social media – but also the less obvious transformative effects which may not be so positive.

The instant feedback, instant gratification aspect of social media was covered in The Impact of Marshmallows on the DS Generation.

The effect of the popularity contest of “like” is having on what we post and hence shaping our thought processes was covered in *like*.

One of the more interesting researchers in this field, neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield, raises another issue – the ego-centric view that people will be interested in the utter banality of our every day lives as regurgitated on Twitter, Facebook et al – present company excepted of course!

I have to say when I first started blogging, I was extremely self-conscious. Was it presumptive of me to think that every thought that crossed my mind might be of interest to others? (A = yes) That blog has now thankfully disappeared into the archives of time. Instead I try to focus on explorations of external topics that interest me, rather than what is going on in my life.

Are we actually thinking about to whom we are posting these comments, and whether they are really interested? It is certainly true that there is a lot of irrelevant and uninteresting trivia on there.

Are we turning ourselves into commodities to be marketed to the world through trivial updates? How does this feed back into our self-image and self-esteem, particularly for teenagers who are still forming their identity? Is this some sort of ultimate expression for the Me generation – whichever generation you happen to think is the Me generation.

Social media is still a relatively new phenomenom, and evolving constantly. It is hard to imagine that we will know the answers to these questions until the effects are already realised and widespread.

The article from Daily Mail is available here.

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