As social media platforms grow ever more popular, the networking opportunities may be excitedly expanding but an individual’s actual social circle may be reaching its peak. In other words, as social media networks swell, do our voices get lost to the masses? Is this social media migration in fact starving us of social interaction and risking the future of journalism?
Dave Rickey, a guest blogger for zenofdesign.com, boldly bashes Twitter saying, “Twitter is a breeding ground for social dysfunction”. Although he maintains his argument around trolling, his central focus applies to the unconscious breach of Twitter’s objectives: “you are lulled into a sense of community and comradery”. The Twittersphere is now the fastest growing social platform in the world, hot on the tail of the world’s largest social network of over 1.3 billion people, Facebook. Who wouldn’t feel a sense of community amongst all these users? However, you could argue that social media platforms are spiraling out of control. Twitter is now the most competitive game of all; millions of would-be networkers are vying for attention and seeking that all-important ‘voice’, only to often go unanswered and silenced in the most ‘sociable’ realm in existence. Thus, the value of social media is unequivocally, outright negated.
Although when tweets are reciprocated, all hell can break loose! As David Auerbach quite poetically puts it: “Twitter becomes a cocktail party where everyone has a megaphone.” Everyone in a wide-open space, trying to make themselves known, does not make for coherent nor productive socialisation. Interaction can become banal or confrontational. And with this blowing up our news feeds, where is the space for what social media was intended for?
The very sad news is that social media initially encouraged conversation and communication, founders intended the platforms to be used as broadcasting tools, and although they still maintain a freedom of speech ethos (within reason), it might just be endorsing the expression of mindless drivel for the sake of saying something. It is as if the unanswered quips and musings somehow satisfyingly fill an existing silence with attention seekers, but nevertheless the silence dutifully resumes thereafter. Therefore, we might see social media turning into a bit of a broken record if we do not regain the integrity behind voicing ourselves and finding the consensus behind conversation. We might witness the all-important digital age of journalism and its powerful relationship with social media, particularly in breaking news first, dwindle and fade into a background of white noise. All too often social media cheers the ‘no-holds-barred’ character in everyone, but this is exactly the inane muttering that fills up the valuable space for genuine discussion as intended by its founders. Although we may all think that we’re doing our part for journalism by exercising our freedom of speech, I can’t help but think social media is being violated. And thus, journalism may have a very bleak future on the supposedly ‘social’ platform.