Casey makes a very important statement right here:
What’s real? What’s fake? Figuring it out can be a lot of fun. And even when it doesn’t feel fun, exactly, it’s rarely less than interesting.
Remember the first time you heard about “reality TV”? If you were like me you probably thought something along the lines of watching people just go about their daily lives seems pretty boring. Of course, as it turned out, that’s not what Reality TV turned out to be at all. Yes, it had some real-life moments, but it was also highly edited, and the show’s producers managed to inject quite a bit of drama into the stories, or just plain fake some stuff.
And people were hooked. Which makes sense, because we watch TV to be entertained, and that mixture of real/fake and manipulated drama turned out to be pretty fascinating to watch.
The problem is that looking at social media that same way is counterproductive. Sure, it’s probably more entertaining to watch, but social media isn’t supposed to “just” be about entertainment. That wasn’t the point of the internet at all. It was a way of allowing everyone to be part of the conversation. It’s not TV, it’s not Radio, it’s not even book publishing, it’s literally a space where anyone can not just watch and be entertained, but contribute and educate each other.
When you have a tool like that, and people start to demand, by their attention, to be entertained, or to have their views validated, you have what we have now. In a platform environment, someone will always come along and give people what they want to see. Unfortunately, what many of us want to see is reality TV, on the same platform where we have relationships with people, and get our news.
Those don’t mix well. They do not create better relationships, or better -educated users. Maybe that’s not what we want to be anymore? Maybe we’ve seen so much reality TV that we assume that’s what our lives should look like, and what our timelines should look like.
This seems like a bad idea to me. One that might lead to some more interesting times, but not in a good way.
What do you think? Does fake stuff on Facebook make it more fun than just reading about everyone’s real life? Does the daily outrage cycle make it more interesting to you?