By now if you haven’t seen Sasha Baron Cohen’s speech about Facebook being the greatest propaganda machine in history, do yourself a favour and watch it.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about social networks and this week, in particular, being International Work Out Loud Week, lots of reflection was all about how somehow, in the midst of how social networks can be a force for good for sharing opinion, new ideas and creating channels of conversations between groups of people who would never have otherwise connected, it’s somehow all gone to…shit.
Spammers, trolls, fake news, how did it come to this?
I reflected on understanding the reason why people would now want to hold back from it, close off from it, remove accounts and basically not participate or engage when most of it is fake, or you’re going to get blasted. Many times, I’ve pondered about closing my own accounts and just focusing on this blog only. Do I really need to be part of social networks and indeed, many scattered online communities across multiple platforms that I never access anyway?
Harold Jarche (@jarche) whose work I also read commented in his post “Workplace Learning Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow“, “I think the major change will be in communities — of practice, of interest, of mutual support. As social networks lose their utility due to spam, bots, and gaming the algorithms, safe spaces for learning will become essential.”
I can’t help but feel that this is such a pity that public social networks have come to this point and at the same time, it highlights a real need to learn how to build diverse networks and then to be able to find a community (actually, you should find communities – plural) to have that diversity of thought and opinion and access to people that you’d get in networks anyway. The cynic in me says that we will still gravitate “towards our own kind” in the online communities.
Communities are great to find the support, the safety and the grounding around a “shared identity” to be able to express our voices and learn from and with each other. They’re safe because they rely on generosity and reciprocity.
However, I’d argue that we also need networks – social media – provides us access to find these networks: to be able to grow them organically, to connect through them socially and then to find meaning from them because they provide access to knowledge for us. From these, we can also connect to and become members of communities.
However, in my own experience it’s getting harder to find the people in these networks who are sharing knowledge through writing blogs, curating resources, creating new knowledge to be exposed to, discuss and debate. They’re getting off social media, publishing their work behind closed walls or communities that I may never be a part of.
Mmm..oh well. Pity.