thinking about social media

A flock of twitter birdsI’m on twitter as @drs18; I’ve been using the service since 2007. I use facebook, too, but after the vitriol of the 2012 election, I use it only to gather information (from “liked” pages) and see pictures my daughter posts of my granddaughter. Twitter is more tolerable and crafting a stream that’s helpful or interesting is easy enough. I confess to following people and topics on Medium, too. Occasionally I get flashes of insight into value.

I saw a twitter post that linked to a longer article, 7 Life-Changing Books to Read This Summer. It seemed easy enough to look into and maybe a book in the short list would be worth a bit of time. That twitter post linking to the list had 36 “shares” (36 people reposted the post as is to their own friends) and 83 likes. The actual article with the list was already a month old and had over 5000 shares. I skimmed down the page; there was a nice stock photo at the top and clean cover shots of each of the seven books. Each, too, had a two paragraph synopsis. All seemed pretty standard but one really caught my eye: The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters. The only link to more info was the cover image. I clicked it thinking I might buy or at least find at the library, but it went to the wrong book. Yeah, I could search amazon for the title but that glitch just galls me. Hypertext can make it so easy to refer to something. I posted a response on twitter directly to the author and the host- two people who were targeted when I hit “reply”. An hour later the author “liked” my reply. The hosting site never responded. Obviously, the author didn’t read my post or quite understand what it was saying when she “liked” the fact that there was a misdirecting link in her article. I guess that isn’t surprising when I realized over 5036 readers didn’t notice or didn’t care. Nor did the readers who read those posts.

So, was that really anyone ? Or was it a case of everyone mindlessly reposting something: “Hey this is something you might like. Something I’m intelligent enough and hip enough to care about. I didn’t actually read it. And I didn’t click on any of the links. But you might like it just on my say-so. And BTW, it says so much about me and my lifestyle…”

After several days the link was still incorrect so I went to the personal contact page for the article’s author and used the contact form to point out the link to the wrong book. Several days later I received an email from her saying thanks- the editor did it but I’ll let them know. When I checked the next day, the link was fixed. All that time, all those people, and not one was engaged enough to find or report the error. 5.1k shares of the article. 36 shares of the twitter post. All meaningless.

I read an article on Quartz yesterday. Psychology shows it’s a big mistake to base our self-worth on our professional achievements. I mean really read it. It’s very good, and it was very satisfying in that it came to me shortly after I watched a youtube talk by an old colleague. The colleague’s talk was okay, but something about it annoyed me. The Quartz article helped me formulate my own thoughts on why. The kicker is that the truly interesting Quartz article is written by Emily Esfahani Smith, the author of the book that I wanted to find after seeing it in a list and failing to find it. An intereting coincidence. I need to buy her book. And read it.

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