You Define The Medium

One of my favorite things I ever read on the Internet was this essay by Merlin Mann. I love the idea that the Internet is a medium suited to anecdotes.I don't think that's the only thing the web is good for, but it does seem to be the one thing we're all interested in.

All of the mainstream parts of the web extend from people's inherent urge to share something about themselves. I prattle on about music and video games, other people give detailed descriptions of their everyday lives. We spend a lot of time as a society criticizing social media for creating vapid monsters obsessed with sharing every aspect of their lives. Like with most technology, Facebook just made it easier to find out which of your friends is more than slightly racist and which of your family members spends too much time staring at themselves in the mirror.

I do think that Facebook makes it a bit too easy to think we're staying in touch with people we haven't talked to in months. Twitter makes it too easy to pretend we're part of a conversation and sometimes borders on a mob. We can make so much of technology into the terrible things they enable, but that misses out on the things they empower.

We can communicate with people in very real ways, even when distance or time doesn't allow. You're choosing how you use this tech, if you don't like what you're getting out of it; that's on you. Several generations have been trained to treat media as a passive exercise, and they're judging the merits of a medium on what a bunch of teenagers and twenty-year-olds have to offer the world.

The internet is going to evolve with the generations that grow up with it. Just as video games have followed the last couple of generations into adulthood, so will social media. I don't think that social media is going to make us a society of enlightened thinkers, opining about the lessons of history. It will always be a reflection of society, but everyone has a voice to tell their own story.

Mike M

Mike M

I have written various kind of reviews for years. I currently write for Make Use Of. I used to write for Digital Entertainment News, Macgasm, and the Examiner. My day job is as an IT monkey. Follow me on Twitter.