Digi Domi

Sharing my passion for technology and learning.

How ‘social’ does media need to be?

on August 12, 2014

Just a thought really, my husband I were just having a ‘discussion’ on Skype about how he always finds cool stuff on social media channels (Reddit, Youtube etc) but then doesn’t share them with me. I then stumble across them maybe a week or month later and share them with him only to be told ‘yeah, I’ve already seen that’. My husband is a chronic lurker when it comes to social media where as I tend to almost spam my feeds with a range of content I find interesting.

In our ‘discussion’ I suggest to my other half that outlets such as YouTube et al are called ‘social’ media because they are platforms for content, ie ‘media’ which is ‘social’ eg. interactions with other people. Therefore the whole purpose of social media is to share it, comment on it and generally interact with the content and other people. As a counter position my husband was arguing, I mean discussing, that the social element isn’t the important part, it is simply media. He proposed that it is ‘his’ media, and he can consume and share or not share that as he feels appropriate/ motivated to do so.

While my martial Skype discussions may not be a fascinating subject for a post it did make me wonder, how ‘social’ does social media need to be? Should we encourage people that it is okay to passively consume content without offering anything back, colloquially referred to as ‘lurking’. Of course it would be unreasonable to expect individuals to constantly contribute/ share content, and sometimes we do wish to simply consume it for our own purposes, in a slightly more private manner, but should some return be expected? Perhaps social media accounts could have a minimum post threshold per month or per year and if it is not met the account is presumed inactive and deleted? Or perhaps this is a bit harsh. After all many suggest the internet is about freedom, and therefore this must extend to ones freedom to consume without offering anything in exchange.

This purpose of this post was not to reach a conclusion, but rather to put the thought out there, if any one has any opinions then please feel free to comment, or not…it’s your choice.

2 responses to “How ‘social’ does media need to be?

  1. Gavin Taylor says:

    Like your husband, I am also a perpetual lurker (although my posting of this comment suggests otherwise). For me, I don’t consider sites like YouTube, Reddit, etc, to be ‘social media’ sites. I consider them to be ‘media’ sites. I would even go as far as to say Facebook and Twitter are also just ‘media’ sites.

    For me, anything that is put on to the internet is put there to be consumed. The producer may want people to socially interact with it but it is the consumer’s choice whether to do so. This includes things like posting status updates and tweets, as well as videos, songs and pictures. To me, posting anything to the internet is like shouting something out loud in a massive field filled with people. Some people might hear you and not care, or just want to listen. Others may hear you and want to shout back about how you are awesome/not awesome as they see fit. Personally, I think there is too much shouting going on, which is why I would rather lurk, quietly listening to what others want to shout out.

    The idea of ‘social media’, for me, is something that has been created by those people who want to interact with the media they are consuming but found very difficult to do before the internet made it so easy. I don’t have a problem with people who want to be social with their media, it is just not something I have been very interested in doing.

    Regarding your idea about setting minimum thresholds for interaction for accounts to be kept active, I agree it is a little harsh. However if this was made clear from the start people would be aware of their obligations. Personally, I wouldn’t join those sites as I wouldn’t want to be obligated to contribute, but that would be my choice. Were this to happen, I think there would be a lot of very lazy comments just so people could keep their accounts active, which would make the whole experience a lot less fun and interesting for those that enjoy interacting. Therefore, ‘lurkers’ are actually making the experience better for the ‘socialites’ (as I shall now call them) ;).

    It is a very difficult and interesting topic to consider. My opinion is that there is no such thing as ‘social media’, there is media, and there are groups of people who want to be ‘social’ with that media.

    Now, I’m heading back into the shadows to quietly consume more content, who knows where I may pop up to shout something to the masses again 🙂

    (P.S. I like your blog, keep it up)

    • Could it be a misnomer then? Perhaps we need to stop talking about ‘social media’ and start talking about ‘online media’ or simply ‘media’.

      On the other hand perhaps we need to expand our/ my understanding of the word ‘social’ and acknowledge that some people may wish to ‘interact’ by listening, watching and reading. Maybe this is not ‘lurking’ or ‘consuming without return’ but maybe it is simply silent participation. Then again it may simply be that their are levels of activity, from the ‘lurkers’ who consume without contribution, to the silent participants who simply use the like, +1 or up/down vote buttons, moving on to commentors and creators.

      I’m starting to feel like I may be giving away a journal article or part of a dissertation thesis so I will stop, but thank you for your comment, even more thoughts in my head now 🙂

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