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PHILosophy on The Growth of Social Media

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Ledge Phil caricature


Today I hope you will join my little crusade … a one-man fight back against the ubiquitous power and growth of social media.

Don’t get me wrong; I acknowledge and appreciate a lot of the usefulness of all these platforms that have been spawned by the world wide web (and what a web, eh?). But let me put the vein of my thoughts into the words of another:

I just feel sorry for all the people who are following social media critiques because you could be a lunatic and write a critique.

Care to come for the ride, friends?

It’s kind of strange, really … a Baby Boomer talking about the rise of the Millenials. But, then again, isn’t that a prerogative of age … you pay your dues over the years of life and that entitles you to at least have an opinion.

An opinion that may wrap up all its biases and prejudices, but again, at least they have been formed over years of real life experience.

Millenials, apparently, are anyone born in 1982 and over the next 20 years. There’s a fair few of them. In fact, in Australia, they now outnumber us Baby Boomers 6.7 million to 5.2 million.

And these young/young-ish whipper-snappers are in the thrall of social media; so much so that about one-third of the inhabitants at the young end of Millennial land, those aged 14 – 26 years (“trailling millenials”, according to the 2017 Deloitte Media Consumer Survey) get their news from social media.

The habit is formed … and even as they get a bit of life experience and age up to 27 – 32 years (“leading millenials”), about one-quarter continue to see the world via the prism of social media sites.

Frightening. And growing more so each day with the advent of ‘fake’ news and the growing legions of activists who will distort reality to their purpose, and then let it fly out over the web to people willing to accept it as truth, and form views from it, without so much as a sceptical thought.

Or am I being too harsh?

Social media burnout

Deloitte says: While the increase in influence of social media is undeniable, the social reality is that, this year, survey respondents are showing signs of dissatisfaction. Many social media users are going as far as to ‘take a break’, with 31% of respondents temporarily or permanently deactivating their social media accounts.

Apparently, Millenials do have some concerns about ‘fake news’ with 77% believing they have been exposed to it. Are they – we – all getting a better grip on the reality, and unreality, of social media.

Deloitte again: Along with ‘fake news’, the ‘narrowcast’ of social media and its propensity to be an echo chamber, rather than provide a plurality of views and opinions, has taken a toll. This year we are using social media less for news, a behaviour being driven by Millenials – who were also first to embrace it – and Xers [those born between 1965 – 1976].

But, now friends, back to my starting point and the reason for my quiet, passive campaign: Social media is the fastest growing influence on purchase decisions.

And that’s where I owe Steve Allen of Fusion Strategy, a company engaged in media and advertising research, acknowledgment for his words. Apart from social media putting quality, credible journalism to the sword, Mr Allen some time ago expressed the problem this way:

The Millenials will come to rue the day when the penny finally drops that they can’t trust what they are reading, they can’t trust what advice they are being given…

Such is the pervasive power of social media – and the companies which operate the various platforms – that a little skepticism would be a wise and welcome thing.

I’ll leave you with it.

Till next time, all the best.

Cheers, Phil.


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