Antisocial Media – December 10th, 2010

by admin on December 11th, 2010

Antisocial Media

Crowd-sourcing (or “mob rule” as I like to call it) seems to be the impetus behind a series of electronic attacks on companies and individuals that the pro-Wikileakers deem appropriate targets of their wrath. Taking down sites as large as Visa or as small as an attorney’s office,  I suppose these hackers think of themselves as pro-democracy freedom fighters. Yet one to wonder about their tactics. What criteria are used to select the victims? Are they given a fair trial or just randomly selected as “warning shots” to scare everyone into line? The media refers to the attackers as “Anonymous” but I tend to think of them as “The Vigilantes.”

Kinder, Gentler Internet

Perhaps one reason that closed sites like Linkedin and Facebook are so welcomed is that the level of discourse on the public internet can be so brutal (see above!). For example, an article about my employer this week generated a series of mostly anonymous online comments whose negativity was surpassed only by their illogic and lack of merit. That’s why I was cheered to read a piece on Salon.com which explains the popularity of the “Like” button on Facebook. Unlike other sites (e.g. YouTube, Amazon, etc.) which allow you to vote either thumbs up OR thumbs down, so far Facebook only has “like.” As they put it, “In an online world filled with snark, the site’s ‘thumbs up’ feature is a reminder of the power of positivity.”

UN-like

 Sadly, it’s not all sweetness and light on social media. In fact, I’m reminded of blogger Jay Baer’s belief that Facebook’s rise in popularity means that “the website as we know it will soon be a thing of the past.” He posits that our attention spans have been redirected from the larger content that can be assembled and placed onto a web page to instead focus solely on little bits and pieces, like a photo or video clip, a 140-character comment or a “like” button that we can be spoon-fed through our Facebook wall. The impact of this is purportedly that we’ve become so enamored these tiny “social objects” that we’ll lose our curiosity about the rest of the world. Wonder if they said that about the printing press…

 All a-Twitter

Full disclosure: I love Twitter. I rely on it at work, I play on it at home, and I use it to keep me company and entertain me when I’m bored. But as fascinating and engaging as the service is, I never lose sight of the fact that it’s still no more than a mere blip on the radar screen of life.  Or as the LA Time stated in an article about the latest Pew research poll, “About 8% of American adults who use the Internet are Twitter users, with 2% using it on a typical day.”  So really, it’s 2 percent of people online, which rounded down is probably about 1% of the overall population. I guess you could say that “All that twitters is not gold.”

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