media flatten the world?
power social media gives to each and everyone of us does give
us all equal power. Thus you would expect that we would all become
I read a
publication of Scott Gould (@scottgould)
two days ago, in which he asked his readers if Social media does flatten
the world in the sense that everyone becomes equal: all opinions are
of the same importance and everyone respects each and every other
In the discussion we talked about the fact that social media does
empower each and every one of us to reach the whole world with our
opinion. In a perfect world that would mean that we all become equal.
Thus, social media makes the world flat technically, but in the end
the human character with all its flaws will ensure the same inequality
in social media as we see off-line.
Going one step further, it is to my idea impossible to create a flatter
world with social media (where all are equal) because it is inherent
to social media to be unequal. For example, people tend to have loads
of friends in Facebook. Having hundreds or even thousands of friends
is not uncommon. I just read an article that it is not possible for
the human mind to handle more than 150 friends and I think that we
all have experienced we do not have contact with all our “friends”
or online relations on a regular basis.
So why do people have so many friends? Because everybody wants to
feel popular. They want to have many people reading their everyday
business and tell them they are awesome. Meaning people want to feel
better than anybody else and for the first time in their life social
media gives people the change to rise above the rest and become “special”.
It certainly is not the case with all people on social media, but
in the end we will all fall for it. For example take Twitter, where
you have “followers”. The word itself already implies that you are
a celebrity, a famous ruler, who is followed by his loyal subjects.
By comparing with fellow “rulers” you can see how powerful you are,
because you have so many more subjects. In a site like LinkedIn this
is done a bit better, by “connecting” to people instead of “following”
each other, although in LinkedIn you are also able to compare the
number of connections you have with others, but with over 500 connections
this is not shown anymore, so then everyone becomes equal again.
The world would become much flatter (equal), if sites like Twitter
would not show how many followers you have. Instead you should measure
how many people you follow. The problem is however that social media
sites thrive on people trying to have as many followers as possible
and by taking this aspect away, a lot of people might stop using it.
The question is: Would social media function better if we would
create a flatter (equal) world with it by not showing your popularity,
or is this human flaw essential for its survival?