Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Only 5 Actions That You can Take on Social Media Platforms

Up until relatively recently I've never put a mirror upon myself to see how I behave on the internet and why. Like any other person I would emerge into the web and jump from one platform to another, from one piece of content to the other, never actually stopping and analyzing what I was doing and why. After giving it a bit more thought, I came up with a few possible patterns of behavior in the cyberspace.

Firstly, I realized that there are two main types of content you can find on the web, and specifically on the social media today: the professional content and the authentic content. While there are various circumstances in which content is created and put out there, this distinction focuses on the authenticity aspect. Authenticity is here to be understood as a  distinction between the natural and profoundly personal drive of producing and sharing a piece of content, as opposed to the material interest that acts as the drive and purpose of the professional content we find in the cyberspace.

I will let aside the professional content (for now) and speak about actions linked to the authentic content in the social media:

  1. Observing - passive behavior in which we engage most of our time spent on social media through reading, watching, deciphering, reading between the lines, analyzing information. This type of activity doesn't have inherent educational value, it merely informs you about social rules and norms, builds consensus over current topics, builds social stereotypes, influences opinion when dealing with neutral topics (topics that don't appeal to one's core values), shifts normality (social norm) boundaries and ultimately influences people's expectations about reality. It is not a way of becoming more literate or informed, but better integrated into the "normacore" (what is perceived as normal, cool, expected of us).
  2. Passing on - we generally like to share information or content that strikes an emotional cord and thus we become advocates of the ideas propelled through that content. This is the safest way of producing content because you adhere to a noble cause while your stakes in the game are very low. This action doesn't need you to put any effort into producing content, but you benefit from the association with a cause/idea/content that speaks well about your perceived self.
  3. Sharing private content - we all share some private content as a price to get in the social media. Nevertheless, social media is all about sharing content and, thus, we sometimes update our profiles, share a nice family picture or an interesting happening in our lives. We do that to acknowledge our presence (hey, I am here!), to test our audience (let's see how popular I am ) or to build up our cyber persona (this is who I truly am!). People feel differently about privacy and thus sharing private content differs substantially across cultures, age groups, nationality, interests, so on. Nevertheless, one thing is ubiquitous. Our social media profiles are important to us, and are highly impregnated with our values, nevertheless are not reflecting our true selves but a mere representation of what we expect others would like us to be.
  4. Social interaction - most meaningful and useful. Social media brings together long forgotten friends or school mates, helps you keep ties with family and friends across the globe, literally opens any door to anybody that is connected to the web (a very powerful tool), and can literally change lives. An important element to keep in mind, though, is that, as any human interaction, there are positive and negative encounters.
  5. Acquiring information or performing social duties online - the web is also an important, almost indispensable tool to have. You can go online to translate information, find legislation, contacts, book a flight or a hotel, pay your taxes and even get a medical check up through telemedicine. While these can still be done offline, the convenience saves us a lot of time and effort and could help us become more productive. Nevertheless, there are several downsides to this trend, I will discuss in a future post.

In conclusion, these are the types of actions in the social media space I could think of. Bare in mind that I am referring strictly to the personal, authentic activities, leaving aside the professional content in which we could be engaging as costumers. I will try to address this in the near future.

Let me know what you think and please add your thoughts in the comments below.  I am looking forward to your feedback.

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