…“sharing” has become a lot easier and a lot more efficient, but “being shared with” has become much more time-consuming, demanding, and inefficient (especially if we don’t ignore most of our friends most of the time). Given this, expecting our friends to keep up with our social media content isn’t expecting them to meet us halfway; it’s asking them to take on the lion’s share of staying in touch with us. Our jobs (in this role) have gotten easier; our friends’ jobs have gotten harder.
We may be prosumers of social media, but the reward structures of social media sites encourage us to place greater emphasis on our roles as share-producers—even though many of us probably spend more time consuming shared content than producing it. There’s a reason for this, of course; the content we produce (for free) is what fuels every last ‘Web 2.0’ machine, and its attendant self-centered sociality is the linchpin of the peculiarly Silicon Valley concept of “Social” (something Nathan Jurgenson and I will discuss together in greater detail next week). It’s not super-rewarding to be one of ten people who “like” your friend’s shared link, but it can feel rewarding to get 10 “likes” on something you’ve shared—even if you have hundreds or thousands of ‘friends.’ Sharing is easy; dealing with all that shared content is hard.
First as tragedy, then as farce.