It can be very easy to lose sight of this on Social Media but it can also be easy to lose sight of this in the workplace or in our own careers as well. When we reward certain measurements people respond by doing more of that thing. This makes sense if your goal is to simply attract more attention to yourself. For social media maybe that is your goal. If you are representing a brand on social media, yeah that is probably what you want. However, as an individual, I think you have to ask yourself if getting more eyeballs this way causes you to actually undermine your own goals.
The article below points out that many of the platforms that exist today may find themselves in a similar situation and face a similar temptation. As shareholders start demanding more “growth” of a platform they are going to have a hard time providing that. There isn’t a large group of people clamoring to get Twitter or Facebook accounts that don’t currently have one. Eventually, they may be tempted to provide some kind of content exclusively on their platform. This pushes them into being publishing and media companies as opposed to tech companies. (We could argue that many of these platforms have started to dabble in being media companies but that haven’t quite taken the step that Spotify did and buy exclusive rights to podcasts.)
I’m making an example of the Times because they like to consider themselves America’s “Paper of Record”, and even they are now using fear and outrage to gain attention, no better than a Twitter or Facebook troll, but it’s happening everywhere. It’s also no surprise that it’s becoming popular among all media outlets because it works. If we’ve learned anything from fake news sites, biased cable channels, YouTube “experts” and social media influencers it’s that you will never lose an audience by making people afraid. You will get their attention, you will stimulate a fear-based response that causes their brain to kick into survival mode and become hyperalert to dangers, which you are happy to continue to feed them.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last couple of years. We tend to think of the “Big Tech” apps and social networks as being the problem in the digital world, but really it’s all these little places too, because, as they describe, they don’t just keep us informed of actual events in our neighborhoods, they keep us informed of every single instance of something that someone finds suspicious.
This, in turn, makes us go from living in a relatively calm neighborhood to believing we are just one or two days away from the Purge.