Cory Leonard

What’s Wrong with Social Media?

In media, tech on May 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Yes–Twitter is good for crises and quips but not for the serious, protracted discussion that is an essential part of society.  Bill Keller opines:

Almost everyone who had anything profound to say in response to my little provocation chose to say it outside Twitter. In an actual discussion, the marshaling of information is cumulative, complication is acknowledged, sometimes persuasion occurs. In a Twitter discussion, opinions and our tolerance for others’ opinions are stunted. Whether or not Twitter makes you stupid, it certainly makes some smart people sound stupid.

via The Twitter Trap – NYTimes.com.

Its not about whether Twitter and social media is good or bad, but rather how to keep it in a proper context. I can interact with people that I would rarely meet on a regular basis. But those interactions can go both ways…and tend toward the superficial. Again, Keller nails it:

There is a growing library of credible digital Cassandras who have explored what new media are doing to our brains (Nicholas Carr, Jaron Lanier, Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan, William Powers, et al.). My own anxiety is less about the cerebrum than about the soul, and is best summed up not by a neuroscientist but by a novelist. In Meg Wolitzer’s charming new tale, “The Uncoupling,” there is a wistful passage about the high-school cohort my daughter is about to join.

Wolitzer describes them this way: “The generation that had information, but no context. Butter, but no bread. Craving, but no longing.”

In The New Yorker Adam Gopnik packages approaches to technology in a discussion of the book Hamlet’s Blackberry as technology advocates, foes, and other taking the long view that social media is just like the Guttenberg Bible or printing press or Xerox machine—an innovation that occurs as part of the cycles of history.

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