The social media transition. Written and commented on before, it is an epiphany best understood internally rather than through the words of others.
Signing up for tumblr, Facebook, or the Twitter does not necessitate the involvement in conversations, initially. I would argue postings of ‘going ons’ in one’s life, be it quarrels with friends or daily activities, do not extend the rhetoric necessary for an engaged and informed discussion. Now, there is a market for the previously mentioned postings and updates, but I believe this is an entry level position into social media, the ground floor.
When engaging in an online conversation we limit our responses by: 1) putting things in context, 2) researching the ‘facts’ of the issues, and 3) responding in a manner conducive of further conversations. Trolls and griefers, this need not apply to you.
While the previous three points are not new to online etiquette, there has not been a way to put them into application, nor are they (or should they be) applicable to all corners of the internets. The bowls of Reddit and 4chan are enhanced by the lack of rules, and should stay that way. These site offer an escape from rigid structure. Yet, where is the debate, where is the value added? Picture of cats and memes of Steve only provide entertainment not discussion. These sites and their relatives do offer a semblance discussions on every topic imaginable, but comments get lost in the fray, bombarded with misinformation and polemic references.
I propose an integrated solution, an easy way to scan a page (cmd +f) linking the keyword to outside sources, an automatic posting reference system. A complied list would appear at the bottom and saved in the cache of the site. Each reference link could be opened within the current window without leaving the page, linking to the original source(s) and back to previous comments which used the same reference. This would cut down on the he-said-she-said of flame warfare, as the facts and context - yes, still subjective - could be placed in reference to others.
I cannot hope to address the anonymity of the internets, for there in lays the power of the many against the few; I hope it stays this way. However, to use this power as an excuse for apathy towards our fellow man is detrimental to the message, any message, we try to extended. Treat people, like people, and our vitriol may subside. But keep humble in the court of public opinion, as your tide of followers can easily be out matched by another competitor.
I seem to have strayed from my original point, coming to terms with the application of social media. I believe it is best reframe (and program) the way in which we engage in conversations, such they do not devolve into hurls of insults but instead progress into manful conversations, where opinions are easily referenced. Changing your own perception of social media will not come from reading this post, but instead from a desire to get more out of the media you consume. Reframe the perspective of social media, so it may benefit those around you as much as your perceive it to help you.
The internet is written in pen, is as apropos in The Social Network as it is now. And since we have the ability to shape and inform our opinions (right or wrong) we can craft our penmanship before the ink hits the paper.