Media folk, or at least many of us, are obsessed with Twitter and Facebook as fine and useful means of communication. What these two social media outlets clearly demonstrate, though, is that the majority of what people wish to communicate is tedious and irrelevant tosh.
For example, the numero uno mag for web designers and developers, .net, thought it worthwhile to list a few of the tweets sent during its recent annual awards. Was the top tweet in any way useful? Or interesting? Did it add anything to anyone’s life?
You decide; it read: “Just arrived at the #netawards at the ministry of sound. Quite a venue. Quite an event.” For sheer banality it deserves an award of its own.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone using social media.
But there are 600 updates per second on Twitter alone, which computes to 51.8million per 24 hours and a deeply alarming 18,921,600,000 – that is just under 19 billion – per year. Many of these, thrillingly, were recently about snow. For the love of all that is holy, how can fully-grown and educated adults not know, instinctively, that not even your nearest and dearest give a damn about your wintry wonderland travel disruption? It’s more fun listening to train spotters talking about locomotives.
For all of social media’s benefits as a broadcast tool, there is a weakness to consider, namely that it is two-way. An interesting effect has been to bring into sharp focus the drab, dull, vapid and empty wasteland that gives birth to the pointless and thoughtless utterances of far too many people. In the 21st Century meritocracy is dead and mediocrity rules instead. A consequence of this shift is that every unedited thought and opinion is considered worthy of exposure, at least by the individuals who generate them.
Hell, said Sartre, is others. The hell of social media is not so much others, but that what others twitter about, endlessly and without discrimination, is taking over sections of the media and making those correspondingly dull as a consequence.