Monday, January 26, 2009

anti anti-social media

I'll try to say this with suitable brevity.

I hate the term 'social media'. When I hear it (and sometimes, it comes from my mouth too) I want to hold my breath until my cranium explodes.

Other reasons aside, I'll give one explanation of why I think this term is not just annoying but restrictive. And I'll do this in an irritating sound-bitey way, like this:

As Clay Shirky said, humans are social animals. We simply have the tools, finally, to connect in ways we are programmed to do. So social media is really 'anti anti-social media'.

Rather than see our digital tools as adding new channels, it makes more sense to see them liberating us from channels at all. The old tools essentially forced us to cram our full-colour, spirited desire for communication into a a finite number of very limited, black and white outlets.
We - sophisticated, complex beings - were forced to exchange very basic streams of information.

This distinction is really important; between the addition of new options vs the removal of barriers. It's the difference between thinking: 'We can now use channels X, Y and Z to communicate this' and 'we can now say this where we like and how we like'.

We can finally behave and communicate with a fluidity that matches and even exceeds our primal instincts. Just remember that, next time someone says "shall we do a facebook app?"

No pictures, sorry. If it helps, try imagining my cranium exploding and seeing vivid colours falling all around as communication is freed from its shackles :)


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