I was reading an article in the latest issue of Wired magazine about community and social media. The impression I was under when I discovered social media a few years ago was that it exists as a virtual community. A place to share thoughts and ideas; to speak out and express yourself; to teach and learn. There’s this give and take situation that all communities express during socialization that also exists within social media circles.
The article pretty much says the same thing but it also goes on to explain that when a social media network gets too large it breaks down as a community and suddenly becomes a one way transmission. Remember the race between Ashton Kutcher, Oprah, and CNN to reach one million followers on their Twitter accounts? To me, that whole situation was insulting, they weren’t establishing a community, but instead creating an outlet for themselves. They opened the floodgate for other companies and personalities, who quickly flocked to Twitter and used it for nothing more than a constant advertisement forum.
I’m being a little harsh. I admit, some of these Twitter’ers actually contribute something to the larger community or, at the very least, support their own community on some level or another. But the fact remains that a fine line exists as you gain a following. You WILL lose the community.
I don’t follow anyone that doesn’t share this same spirit of community thereby limiting my exposure to what I consider selfish people. But I have to be perfectly honest with myself: social sites provide me with the freedom of expression as well as every other person with internet access. This freedom lets me twit about anything from how wonderful my kids are to my silly idiosyncrasies manifesting in even sillier ways. I don’t understand why these people are on Twitter when they’re not creating a community but doing whatever they want is essentially the beauty of Twitter.