Musings on Social Media Ennui

According to Justin Kistner at Webtrends, social media era will peak in 2012. I think he meant that the term “social media” will simply be replaced with something new, something will also change the world and last forever.

But what if he’s right, i.e. the phenomenon called social media becomes boring.

Jason Calacanis started a “quit Facebook” campaign over their incompetent privacy polices but I think it fizzled. People don’t hang with lynch mobs after it gets late and the cops come. People don’t stick with much of anything these days. Haiti – you mean there’s still an earthquake disaster in Haiti – I thought the  BP oil spill took precedence?

500 million Facebook users won’t quit Facebook over privacy flaws, not right away.

Mike Cassidy wrote in the June 20 SJ Merc, “Instead of wasting time on Farmville, why don’t you visit a real farm (with your kids)”.

I have friends that I might jump on an airplane to be with in a time of crisis or celebration, but when their newsfeed drones on about their Farmville critters, I delete them. I simply don’t care about their accomplishments in Farmville or Mafia Wars.  The next worst thing in your feed is Ads – everybody and everything has a fan page.  There’s probably a charity page for “Brain Damaged Welders” (please don’t sue me Bruce Jay Friedman).

And I’m sorta tired of getting emails from friends suggesting I might like a website selling Canadian Viagra. I know they didn’t send the email – Facebook’s privacy holes gave access to the spammers.

But a deeper phenomenon is at work. Gadgets are addictive. YouTube is serving up 2B videos/day. 5B text messages are sent every day (almost all of them by teens who don’t use Twitter or Facebook).  Text messages remind your fiends that you are “now here” because otherwise you are “no where”, which is worse than death for a teen.

Txting, Facebook and Twitter provide “virtual validation”. We all need positive strokes and we’re all to quick to suspend belief that our “pretend friends” on social media sites think we’re cool, smart, attractive, successful, whatever.

At some point, the fakery will wear off.  Social Media as we know it today, will be the mass bulimia craze of the early 21st century.  Never happen you say? Facebook is an unstoppable force you say? Take Twitter for instance.  Certainly one of the most hyped phenomenons on the planet, yet the real tangible benefits of following and being followed are vanishingly small. Twitter’s ultimate role is a really simple news feed for higher level apps like Tweetdeck to feed on. The “follow paradigm” has become meaningless.

Or maybe not. Maybe the “cloud” will coalesce into “everyone’s best friend”. Someone who knows everything about your life, and knows how to provide the manipulation you seek.

Big Brother, lend me an ear?

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