The Death of Social in Social Media

Personal Writings Social Media

Marble Falls      I’ve noticed it, and surely you have, too, but social media just isn’t that social anymore.  Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think so.

Something like Twitter was never a conversation with a community, but more a one-way megaphone, sometimes turned to high volume.  Facebook has become more akin to a bulletin board, where some post and some even subscribe to follow posters, but not really so much a social back and forth anymore.  As we have also come to know, it is also a forum for fractions.  A place where some can post the wild and wooly for others that a looking for wacky conspiracies and hatemongering.  Instagram has been a bug I didn’t catch, but it seems to be performative and about influencing and the so-called influencers that are trying to monetize it.

WhatsApp is interesting to me still, and that’s become the place where smaller family and friends keep up, it seems to me.  Where a decade ago, family pictures and comments might have gone to Facebook, now there will be a WhatsApp group or two where you will find all of that.  No one wants to put their personal business very much on Facebook now without wondering where and what might happen.  For work, WhatsApp groups are thriving for our organizations internationally, especially in India and Africa.  No one has the time to go to individual countries’ Facebook or websites, unless maybe they are trying to get acquainted for the first time.  Furthermore, WhatsApp is encrypted, so less identity theft and hacking, thanks to Moxie Marlinspike’s good work there and on Signal.  In fact, Signal’s move to discontinue its SMS program for texting except to other people who have Signal is yet another sign that going smaller and private is becoming the thing.

Is this segmenting and the search-and-find your smaller community a good thing?  I’m less sure about that, and lean towards a hard NO.  The best days of social media held the promise of building a larger community of connection.  Segmented communities based on special interests certainly have their purpose and attraction, but they also support the creation of separate silos and enhance divisions that are harder to integrate into the larger community.  All of which may be found for the corporates, the branders, and those who thrive on segmentation, but to my mind, it bodes badly for society at large once the social disappears and leaves just the media, its medium, and message.