Social Anxiety Creates a Whole Lot of Social Media Noise

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Are you just posting links or are you socially contributing?  I’ve been thinking lately about how so many people, in their pressured effort to participate in social media (some spurred on by a fear of being left out/behind), have turned their Twitter and Facebook accounts into basically just a multitude of endless streams of junky links, regurgitated thousands of times over and over again across the Internet with zero added value by anyone.  As if we don’t already have enough Internet spam tweets and links from poorly executed, endless campaigns by wannabe marketers, now everyone else has to add to it as well? It’s all over the darn place – and I’m blaming Twitter for the lion’s share of it.  It’s mucking up the Internet with mindless me-too tweets.  No opinion or thought on what it is they are linking to.  Laziness?  Overzealous?  OR… perhaps they are also afraid to add their thoughts and opinions to the stream?  I could be on to something here. Hmmmm…

It’s just a mass of superfluous linking back and forth – most of it to the same few bits of information.  It’s getting kind of ridiculous.  It’s like everyone is just scouring the net in a race to be first to point at something or maybe to prove they too are also smart for pointing at it like everyone else.  Like there’s a prize for that.  And best of all the government is indexing it.  Just think, if our civilization is wiped out and a distant race of humanoids unearths the US government’s database, what will they think of us?  Paranoid?  Slaves to our own devices?  Obsessive?  Compulsive?  Insecure?  All of the above?

I suppose it’s easy to get caught up in it. Technology has made it easy to mindlessly click buttons and feel like you’ve somehow accomplished something special for it. After all, there is a score that gives you instant gratification…more friends, more tweets, more followers, mindless-retweets, reposts, likes, share this, add that, etc.  I admit I have done it (posting links without adding value, mostly out of laziness at times).  That’s not really socializing, now is it?

Let me just remind a few people that I, like every other human on the planet turned digital zombies, also have Google and easy access to all the same “news” sites.  And yes: I too also saw that nifty infographic on how many Eskimos now use FourSquare to check into the hottest fishing holes – because reporting such a thing in graphic form will somehow make it seem like a worthwhile investment of time and effort to tell all my VPs about it. Even though that trivial item was posted just 5 minutes ago, I was sure to have it highlighted for me by several of my own rss feeds, followed by 378,672 tweets of people jumping out of the woodwork to also point it out to me… just in case I missed it (thereby claiming their intelligence for knowing about it before me).

Thanks for sharing.  I appreciate it.  But here’s the thing:  I’m not really interested in your drone-like url pointing.  I’m willing to guess I’m not alone in feeling this way lately.  If anything, here is what I would be interested in seeing with your tweets and posts:  I’d like to know what you have to say about it.  How about including an original thought with that retweet?  What’s your inside scoop?  Or maybe just share that witty comment you just confidently whispered to yourself about it.  There’s no right or wrong answer.  Just be a human being again, please.  Otherwise you are just adding to the noise.  There’s lots of it now.  It’s becoming mind numbing and debilitating.

So why is this happening?  Human nature, I suppose.  Sure, maybe we’re all just lazy, but if that were the case why would we bother posting at all?  I submit that perhaps quite a large number of people might have some anxiety about putting their own opinions out there – for fear of ridicule or embarrassment, maybe?  Earlier today, I saw somebody tweet something that made me stop and think about it at length.  Basically, it was one person tweeting a slight against another person for some inconsequential manner in which they were expressing an idea or opinion on some personal blog.  Not an opposing opinion, mind you.  Just a trivially judgmental and somewhat snotty comment.  It got me to thinking about how it’s that exact sort of thing that causes other people witnessing such a occurance to gain a lot of fear and anxiety about contributing their original thoughts and ideas to conversations – fear of negative judgment and ridicule.  This concept isn’t new, of course.  Fear of scrutiny by others is the core of most social anxiety.  Offline, people in this situation will just tend to keep quiet and defer any participation at all.

Online, people are resorting to just pointing at stuff as the alternative to speaking.  People are “contributing” by just tweeting/pointing at everything they can get their mouse on.  Is this some sort of new social anxiety complex that needs its own label maybe?  Perhaps the thought process is that such action allows them to somehow be a part of the perceived “social media party” because tweeting links somehow makes them a part of the club, adds social value and gains clout… all without the risk of putting themselves in the line of fire.  Keep your thoughts to yourself and just point? Obsessive share zombies.

It’s this cycle of behavior: wanting to participate, fear of ridicule and just tweeting a gazillion links that is quickly adding to an already massive storm of repetitive digital noise.  What’s worse, it seems to be a growing trend.  All original thoughts and opinions completely absent most everywhere you look by comparison in volume.  Just a whole lot of noise that we are unwittingly creating for each other and essentially putting up with.

It’s become anxiety induced social media spam.  JUST STOP IT.  NO!  BAD PEOPLE!  BAD! … NO!

Here’s my prescription:  Share your thoughts with that url and comment me in the morning.

PS. Yeah, yeah. Okay.  That’s me in the photo there. LOL.  By the way… I totally admit that I had anxiety about posting this article. So then I really had to. Haaaaa! ;)

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About Tony Kinard

Digitally Innovative, Obsessively Creative, Fearless Advertising/Marketing Exec. For 16+ years I've had the honor of working with brilliant ad agencies, digital marketing innovators and technology vanguards. It's been amazingly fun and exciting work helping clients to successfully leverage tech innovations and new ideas. From scrappy startups to some of the best known brands in the world, I love the challenges they present. The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some great ideas!

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