The Absurdity of Social Media

social-mediaIt’s funny but the more I look at social media and the more I partake in social media, the less impressed I am with it all.

Take Twitter, for example.  Of what use is Twitter?  All I see is people throwing insults, retweeting endless memes, tons of pictures with famous quotes but nothing else, etc.  What is the point of it all?  What does it accomplish?  Over this past weekend when I was listening to a podcast, I sat down and watched Twitter for a while and it was just appalling.  There’s nothing useful going on.  There was one point when the same meme was retweeted more than a dozen times in a row.  It’s short attention span theater!

I’m not trying to insult people, but honestly, I don’t see Twitter attracting the best and brightest people.  The majority of them seem to be, well, idiots.  That may very well be because of the way I use  Twitter, I don’t invade other people’s hashtags and make fun of their religions, I sit and wait for something intelligent to be posted to #atheism or #atheist or retweeted by one of the very few people I follow.  Maybe there’s a secret that smart Twitter users know, other than simply avoiding Twitter altogether, but I haven’t found it yet.

Then there’s Facebook and Google+.  Of the two, I like Google+ better, but none of these services are set up to allow intellectual discussions to occur.  They’re not threaded, it’s just an endless string of comments and following one particular conversation is next to impossible, especially when a couple of  discussions are going on at the same time.  You have to try to follow the links, when people actually use them, and it ends up being a pointless waste of time.

Plus the fact that there are so many different groups on both Facebook and Google+ that the message gets diluted.  I know that on Google+, I’m a member of 3 atheist groups, 2 skeptical groups, an atheist blogger group, several atheist podcasting groups and even though some of those groups have tens of thousands of members, very little is actually going on in the group.  Lurkers outnumber posters 1000-to-1 most of the time and of the content that actually does get posted, there is a very low signal to noise ratio.  It’s like watching 8 year olds post fart jokes.

I’ve written before about how pointless I find StumbleUpon and Reddit.  Their members are just content locusts, they swarm over linked websites, read the first dozen words and then move on.  This does nothing whatsoever for gaining large numbers of intelligent, dedicated, committed readers for a blog, it just gives a momentary blip on the radar as they descend on an article and then fly off to the next one.  I don’t find anything valuable in their community either, every time I’ve gone to read any of the subreddits, they’ve been filled with rude, stupid and obnoxious people and, of course, they’re not designed to facilitate intellectual long-term discussion or debate either.

So am I out of luck?  My New Year’s Resolution this year was to know when to get out of pointless debates. Originally it was aimed at religion, but I’ve taken all debates to task and so far, I haven’t engaged in any good debates this year.

I even went back to the IRC channel that I helped to found many years ago.  Sure, it was chaotic, but at least there were some good discussions to be had.  Apparently, that’s not even a thing anymore because in the hour or two that I sat and watched, people were making fart jokes and banning any theist that came into the channel because they might have to talk about religion or atheism!  Isn’t that what a channel named “#Atheism” is supposed to be about?  That’s why I left originally, because people in the #atheism channel didn’t want to talk about atheism, they wanted to talk about anything but, post memes and generally do what Twitter has turned into.

So where do the intelligent atheists go?  It can’t be to any of these social media sites, they feel like they appeal to the lowest conceivable common denominator.  Where do the intelligent theists go?  Semi-intelligent theists? People who have two brain cells to rub together?  I can’t find any of them.

8 thoughts on “The Absurdity of Social Media”

    1. That's largely been my problem, it's assholes all the way down no matter where I go. I read an article a couple of days ago that says that the Internet vacillates between having everything at one location like Facebook and people wanting individual applications for all of their needs, like Tumblr and Twitter and Pinterest. We're currently in an individual application phase. I can't find anything decent in either phase really and when you've seen all that people have to give and it doesn't get any better, what is left?

  1. Twitter was great when I was holding a newborn and either feeding him a bottle or patting his back waiting for him to fall asleep. Now that my son is a few months older though, he knows whats going on a bit more and requires more attention, I'm on twitter much less often. A few quick jokes, memes or quips I could enjoy and potentially take part in, but nothing deep. I've also found a few blogs and podcasts through twitter, if someone says something interesting I might check out their site.

    My recent post Exodus 12: God Slaughters the Firstborn in Egypt

  2. Hard to disagree with anything said here. Twitter, tumblr, facebook etc can be great for simple jokes, meme generation, etc, but it seems a lot of people mistake occasional wit or random pics for actual content. The more politically-oriented love to do a lot of annoyingly self-righteous drive-by kind of posts, making it clear how smugly "correct" and hip their politics are, but it seems very few have the guts to debate or the strength of character to consider other views.

    I don't even mind a bit of scrolling, I'll debate or discuss on facebook, but most people seem to think that while it's perfectly OK to spread falsehoods, political cheap shots, or whatever on one's facebook page, attempting a discussion on them is somehow "bad manners" or some such horseshit.

    I agree that there are waves in platform popularity that can enhance or discourage certain uses, but I think a lot of the problem is that everyone feels entitled to opinions, but the desire to actually be right, and the willingness to do the work necessary, is always a minority position and is easy to discourage. It has to be encouraged to take root at all. Most people are too lazy and ignorant to even care about reality, as long as they can get their rush from being "right" in their own mind. The explosion of blogs a few years back made a great splash, and a lot of debate-friendly places became vibrant and interesting, but between platform change, generational change, and burnout, I see that rolling back a bit. It's sad, and I hope that we can see a resurgence.

  3. The only way I've been able to keep my blood pressure in check when using Twitter and find some worthwhile stuff is to unfollow those I see who are acting like idiots. I don't want to support them by following, I have little interest in interacting with them. I agree that it is very difficult to find intelligent conversation in any of these places, but I don't think that is why they are there or what most people use them for. I may be old school here, but I think a face-to-face conversation is far more likely to be worthwhile.

    My recent post Diverse Voices in the Atheist Community

    1. I really don't follow that many people as it is. I don't start following someone unless they have impressed me to begin with and last time I looked, which has been a while, I had close to 4x as many people following me as I follow, which is weird because I don't tweet all that often anymore anyhow. I don't use any of these social media sites to be social, if I want that, I'll go outside, talk to friends, etc. I don't see the Internet as a place to hang out and make friends. It's a workhorse, not a playground. I don't know that I agree that face-to-face encounters are any more likely to result in intelligent debates with theists because I've become more and more convinced that theists are entirely incapable of having rational discussions about their religions, regardless of the format.

  4. Right with you. Wrote two books, one about being a conservative atheist, and neither of them are going anywhere. I use FB & Twitter for free ebook postings – I’m a voracious reader and collector of all things books. Other than that I find the level of idiocy and hysterical defense of religion so off-putting I could throw up. I was Mormon for 45 years and finally figured things out – I have a lot to say, but no one will listen.

    1. As I just tweeted a minute ago, I find that I'm permanently muting more people on Twitter than I'm tweeting. Last night alone, I reported more than 50 people for spam and muted them through my client so even if they don't lose their accounts, I'll never see them again. That's all Twitter seems to be good for, idiots posting crap.

      No thanks.

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