Time to Break All Connections... On Social Media
SOME SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS ARE USING POSTINGS OVERLOAD AS AN EXCUSE TO MANIPULATE ENGAGEMENT...
I don't pretend to be an Information Technology Expert, or even a Social Media Whiz. I've barely figured out Twitter and Facebook, rarely use Pinterest, and have never even looked at Snapchat. I do, however, publish and engage regularly on LinkedIn, Medium, and of late, beBee. And I am in my core business pretty much a Power User of word processing, publishing, spreadsheet, and CAD software.I've been writing and publishing on the Internet on my own websites and those of others for more than twenty years now, and on social media — including LinkedIn, Medium, Blogger, WordPress, and beBee — for at least a decade.
Presently, I have a growing unease about the developing tendency of some social media platforms to use the very volume of postings that they handle as a rationale for seeking to exercise a form of mind control. Saying that because the volume of postings and notices is so great, they "have to" throttle or choke down such interchange, so that platform members aren't completely inundated with such material.
So, while I'm far from ever being considered a Techie Guru, I'm also not exactly a Digital Virgin...
Never mind that the "connecting" or "friending" that occasions the flow of information, useful or otherwise, are the result of voluntary actions taken by the recipients in every case. In other words, the people with whom the platform claims to be concerned and whom it claims to be protecting asked to receive that flow of information. The social media platform knows better what they really want to see. LinkedIn is a prime example of this form of mind control...
The claimed motivation for over-riding the expressed desires of members is, to my mind, pure poppy-cock...
As I see it, their underlying goal is to control the marketing image of the platform, by controlling who sees what. In turn, this enables management to determine how the platform is represented by the content mix, which is projected as trending and popular.
In the case of, for example, LinkedIn, the company is invested a lot of its perceived reputation in an image as a trend-setting, Influencer-driven environment, in which trend setting Influencers lead the rank and file to the slaughter... er, I mean, marketplace.
Actively shaping the buying interests, desires, and tastes, indeed, potentially their very buying decisions.
Today, be told what to read on social media — tomorrow be told where and how to spend your money...
So, by now you're asking what the hell all this has to do with connections. And you're thinking maybe Grumpy has finally lost some of his marbles.
So let's get back to the core topic. It all starts with the nature of connections They are two way streets, or perhaps better described as super-highways. Posts and updates and other forms of exchange flows both ways.
If you have a large number of connections, the amount of inbound traffic can be staggering. When I do remember to check my Facebook page, I am always blown away by the sheer number of updates, posts, memes, and other detritus that is deposited there daily, if not hourly. And I don't even have that many fiends — on
Facebook, that is. On LinkedIn, the situation is some different, although similar in many important respects.
The central point to understand about connections on LinkedIn is that, just as often as not, they are initiated by someone who doesn't want you to send him or her anything, but rather wants to send you something...
Like a sales pitch, or a request for an introduction to a third party, or an invitation to attend a seminar, or to convert you to a recruitment client, or... Well, I'm sure you get the point.
Consequently, these people, who want to send plenty, but not receive anything, except perhaps a signed order, get really bent out of shape as the traffic starts piling up at their end, from the tens of thousands of people they've connected to in the course of their outbound marketing efforts.
So they start complaining to the powers that be, asking for them to filter that inbound traffic. And the powers that be are all to happy to use that as cover for moving to control and manipulate traffic in both directions, in the service of molding your intellectual horizon according to the image of what they predetermine they want it to be.
Can you spell "mind control" ?
For that's what it is, notwithstanding the ugliness of the phrase. And all the protestations about it being the Algorithm's fault is just a pile of bull chips.
And finally we come to the nitty gritty. In order to forestall the drift toward mind control, we need to eliminate the excuse that is being used by some social media platform management as cover in their efforts to achieve such control.
Namely, we have to find a solution to runaway traffic coming into people's feeds, but without succumbing to the argument that it requires arbitrarily over-riding the expressed wishes of many individuals as to whose posts and notifications they want to receive. The answer is surprisingly straightforward...
Eliminate all connections on social media...
Instead, use only one-way "following" relationships. If A wants to receive B's posts and updates, A elects to "follow" B. That way B is never asked by A or someone else to "connect" and, in doing so, ends up receiving posts, updates, or internal emails that B doesn't want to receive from A. In short, B doesn't have to participate in the decision by A to follow B, unless for some reason B really doesn't want A to read any of B's "stuff".
If both A and B want to establish a two-way relationship, A elects to follow B, and B independently elects to follow A. Done.Finis.
This way, nobody is receiving the updates, posts, and other communications of another person, which he or she has not specifically and voluntarily elected to receive.
The excuse for social media management to manipulate what members see and don't see goes away, because everybody is seeing only what they specifically asked to see. And if someone no longer wants to see someone else's "stuff", they can "un-follow" that person, without he or she even being notified, because the person they followed had no part in their decision to follow him or her in the first place.
If the excuse for tampering with what people see and don't see on the social media platform goes away, so do all the disguised attempts at mind control...
Whether breaking all connections on social media will ultimately solve all of the social problems connected to social media is, at best, doubtful. However, eliminating "connecting" as the primary form of relationship on the platforms that now have it or some equivalent, is a logical and necessary first step. — Phil Friedman
Author's notes: I don't write much about social media, except for the occasional piece about the failings of some of the platforms, in particular LinkedIn. And the occasional article on the psycho-sociological issues surrounding the presence of social media in contemporary society. If you found this post of interest, you may want to look at some others of mind:
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As a writer-friend of mine says, you can always change your mind later.
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About me, Phil Friedman: With 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation. In a previous life, I taught logic and philosophy at university.
The (optional-to-read) pitch: As a professional writer, editor, university educator, and speaker, with more than 1,000 print and digital publications, I've recently launched an online program for enhancing your expository writing: learn2engage — With Confidence. My mission is to help writers and would-be writers improve the clarity of their thought, master the logic of discussion, and strengthen their ability to deal confidently with disagreement.
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Text Copyright 2016 by Phil Friedman — All Rights Reserved
Images Credits: Phil Friedman, and Google Images
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