Some folks have ignored it and hoped that it would go away. Others embraced it from the start and have taken the journey from platform to platform and everything in-between. Social media it is more than a whisper on the wind, more than idle chatter in the classroom, and, yet, not quite the medium for a marriage proposal or denuclearisation treaty with North Korea. Here are some social media trends to take note of in 2018.
More Fake News & Fake Pictures
#FakeNews has been in the news, almost constantly, since #DonaldTrump entered the White House. Fake images will be ramping up their presence across social media, as the technology to do this becomes more available to more people. You can reverse image search using Google Images, if you suspect some digital fakery at play in your news feed. Fake pictures on Facebook, seem to have made their home there. The Russians perfected the Photoshop manipulation on social media platforms for the 2016 US election. It seems the same stupid people who used to watch TV are now on Facebook instead. Social media platforms lack gravitas, especially when it comes to the news. People are more willing to believe all sorts of whacky stuff over the internet. The internet seems to invite fraudulent behaviour in the same way that a few drinks in your local bar invites promiscuity. I don’t know what it exactly is that people believe the digital realm to be, but sacrosanct is not one of those beliefs.
Does Social Media Distort Our Reality?
Perhaps, social media is considered to be one mega celebrity supermarket magazine, where everything fake is celebrated. Air brushed images have made way for complete Photoshop overhauls. The idea that the whole world is armed with cameras via their smart phones and can record crimes and misdeeds for the benefit of humanity, tends to break down in the face of rampant misuse and manipulation of the technology. Through a glass darkly, or through a Samsung lens, the world is a different place. Social media is distorting our comprehension of reality by compartmentalising it into likes and followers. Your news feed is feeding you stuff designed to be easily digestible, whether it is true or not.
It’s Egalitarian & Personal
Traditional news, in newspapers and on TV’s current affairs type programs, has always exaggerated the shocking and the negative in a bid to sell newspapers and attract high ratings on the small screen. Social media has bucked that trend via its egalitarian nature and personal networks. It may be banal, and it usually is, and it is, of course, a far more visual medium with users more inclined to snap an image with a catchy title than penning an essay on any topic. Marketers want to make it a torchbearer for their brands, but it remains a communication device for members of communities.
If we can encourage a sense of social responsibility among users of the internet and social media, in particular, then, it may survive and thrive beyond sensationalism. If we don’t, it will quickly become an obsolete plaything for morons and degenerates. Twitter, some say, already is.