Social media is killing us all.
Most of all, it’s no longer social. If you try to post something vaguely “social”, it’s ignored – lost amid all of the clickbait and ranting. If you repost something interesting, your motives are suspect because of all the clickbait and ranting. And, of course, it’s becoming obvious that there are people who sow nothing but clickbait and ranting.
Our social media publishers have failed us.
In search of the big cash-out, they’ve all sold us to the highest bidder. We aren’t allowed to see what interests us, we’re allowed to see what the advertisers think interest us. Thus, the echo chamber. Once we’ve been sorted, labelled, tagged, and compartmentalized into advertising units, The Algorithm force-feeds us the stuff that keeps us coming back for more. Opposing viewpoints are buried. Posts that don’t benefit advertisers disappear. And if you’re not willing to pay, you can’t reach most of the people who’ve asked to see your content.
I used to run CSz Richmond’s Facebook page. When I left, my average posts were hitting 2-3% of the people who’d liked the page. TWO TO THREE PERCENT. Take that in. 97-98% of the people who had told Facebook that they wanted to see content from CSzRVA weren’t allowed to. The Algorithm had better things to do. Well, better for Facebook’s bottomless greed.
Oh, you may have noticed something there.
How many of you didn’t know I left CSz Richmond? I left three weeks ago. As an experiment, I made one oblique Facebook reference (and a profile update) and one Instagram post. I think four people saw them. I made a post on a private group, and almost everyone in that group responded. That’s OK, I guess, but if Facebook wants to push us into private groups to see content, they’re just making the echo chambers worse. If social media worked right, you’d have all seen the profile update on Facebook (it’s public).
Then again, when I get single-digit likes on my personal posts, I know nobody’s seeing them, so I guess it’s just The Algorithm at work again. That’s why I believe that social media isn’t social anymore.
It’s interleaved walled gardens, curated by machines that don’t understand personal relationships (or subtlety), where everyone has a speaker, all pointed at each other, shouting at the top of our lungs to be heard over the din.
There probably is a way to make social media work.
It’s clearly not the current ad-driven cacophony.
For social media to work, it has to be social. Interactive. People talking to people.
That means someone who finds a way to coerce people into paying for an ad-free platform where we can jst connect with the people who matter to us may have a chance.
Well, they would, if anyone paid for anything on the Internet.
But that’s another rant.
Speaking of how ad-driven social media has gone wrong, I’m watching YouTube videos while I’m typing this up. YouTube just interrupted a video with an ad for their Red service that will stop advertising from interrupting my videos. This is their strategy, by the way. They want to annoy me into paying. That’s really NOT the idea I’m thinking of… but I guess YouTube has a point. Since nobody will pay for their Internet content willingly, maybe holding it hostage will work.
Nah. They’ll just lose viewers. And the geniuses running the place will never figure out why.
Where was I?
Oh, right. Ad-free with a small cost. The only social media that won’t exploit our divisions and bury our similarities.
It’ll never happen.
Because, in the end, most of us get something from where we are now – usually the powerful drug that is “MY OPINION IS CORRECT, SEE?”. Or we’ve given up.
I don’t expect anyone to see this, either. It doesn’t fit The Algorithm. But sometimes there’s a certain satisfaction in turning down my speaker and sliding under the radar.
Because, for all of social media’s failings, if someone shouts here, a small noise is made. Sure, the Internet never notices, but the Internet also never forgets.
It’d be nice to look back on this someday, from a functional social media platform, and know I was wrong.
Maybe I’ll be able to write the followup – “Social media was killing us, but we took it back”.
Bur right now, social media is killing social interaction. Thus, it’s killing us. Slowly.
And I realize I may be part of the problem.
Also another rant – but I’m a bit tired of trying to reach out with nobody reaching back.
If you got this far, thanks for reading another one of my occasional stream-of-consciousness meanderings.
Now, back to social media so I can have my faith in humanity battered a bit more… see you on the Interwebs.