Sunday, November 01, 2015

Five Problems with Social Media

Dang - right off the bat, I’ve got a problem with this “30-Day Writing Challenge” thing. Actually, my problem isn’t with the Challenge itself; it’s with how the topic for this first day’s piece is written, which is my point: there are no problems with social media. The technology is progressing in some very interesting and important ways. There ARE some problems with how people use (and abuse) social media, though.

I am the first to admit a mild addiction to some social media tools; Facebook is at the top of that list. My excuse relates to my interest (personal and professional) in how people use technology to learn and improve their lives. I figure that, although I spend too much time on social media, at least I am absorbing knowledge that has contributed to my success as an educational technologist. Like many other people, I waste a lot of time randomly browsing mindless posts, memes, nonsense “news” pieces, biased stories, and other general nonsense, when I could and should be doing something outdoors. And when I am outdoors, sometimes out in the middle of a wonderful motorcycle or mountain bike ride or hike, what do I often do? Yep, I reach for social media, in case one of my “friends” out there might appreciate a selfie of Paul in a cool place. Ugh.

Another problem with social media involves data mining of our thoughts, ideas, comments, preferences, etc. in ways that often surprise people. Ever wonder why an ad for a product you just commented on suddenly appears on the side of your Facebook feed? You don’t really wonder how that happened, right? Does it bother you? I have grown (groan?) accustomed to it.

When people blindly accept the default privacy settings as they sign up for a social media tool ("I'm excited to get started - I'll do that later") they open themselves up to issues they may not foresee. We also need to pay attention to how privacy settings and terms of service agreements change over time, and make sure we are comfortable with where a given tool is headed in regard to how it handles and manages the data it extracts and extrapolates from your interaction.

I wish more people realized that Twitter isn’t just “I just farted!” updates. Sure, there is a lot of that noise out there, but Twitter has proven to be a gold mine for me when I use it as a news and information collating filter. I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of that right here and now, but it’s not too difficult to figure out.

Lastly, a problem… actually, more of a gripe about a certain social media tool I like a lot: Can someone please tell my why the otherwise awesome app that is @Instagram STILL doesn’t implement one of the most basic aspects of social media - SHARING content between users? Why do we need an external app to do this? Can’t those three little dots at the bottom right of each post include a “Repost” feature? ‪#‎instagram‬ ‪#‎ugh‬

No comments: