Zia Hassan

The Up And Downsides To Social Media

Everyone has a microphone. Everyone has a platform. Now, with the power of a Facebook or Twitter or Instagram account, _anyone _can write their thoughts and have an immediate audience.

The upsides are what we’ve been talking about over the last decade: now, no voice gets left out. No one is barred by gatekeepers. For most intents and purposes, gatekeepers don’t even exist anymore, or if they do, they’re simply watching to see who’s doing the groundwork on their own before they make their picks.

The downside is that what most people post is of little value to everyone else. Perhaps I’ll see a post where someone is wishing their loved one a happy birthday. But if I don’t know that person, the post isn’t very useful to me. It’s useful to the person that posted it though, because now they get the status that comes with posting about having friends. The question we must ask ourselves, in today’s social media landscape is… to whom are we speaking?

When people go off on rants, who are they ranting at? Which unindentified facebook friend is their audience? And if I’m not the intended audience, why am I even reading their post? For all of its personalization algorithms, Facebook can’t really serve me the most useful things; only the things that I will be most drawn to… and those certainly aren’t the same category.

Posts are either useful for the audience or they are useful for the poster. If we instilled a new norm, which is that we can now _only _post something that is useful for everyone, we might find that the online world suddenly has less contempt, less displays of status, less clutter.

And we’ll be better for it.