Social Media Narcissism

When going through the process of adding / friending / following in social media, we often look for a common characteristic in our ‘friends’.  These characteristics can be anything, from the love of tech, design, political affiliation or religion or any other type of culture.  Why do we do this?  It’s an attempt in the perpetual battle of finding the the signal amongst the noise, but on that journey, are we falling prey to too much narcissism?

Here’s my concern:

If we only encourage interactions with people who are like ourselves by religion, politics, language, industry, etc., and shy away from everything else, will that not enclose us in a bubble?

Some Effects of the Bubble

One effect is that we end up with groupthink and an increasingly larger echo chamber.  A false reality is created by the purposeless regurgitation of ideas, everyone sheepishly agreeing with everyone else, and the ensuing lack of perspective due to isolation from the rest of the space.  Being open-minded isn’t enough.  What good is it being open-minded if there aren’t encounters with other perspectives?

Another effect is a related to the echo chamber: just pure boredom. Hearing about the same old topics over and over again can result in social media fatigue and blogger burnout.  Personally, I’d rather comment on someone else’s post rather than perpetuating a worn-out topic.  Sometimes, a comment can be just as meaningful as a post. (Heck, Disqus even thinks comments are blog posts)

Other effects include the suppression of different points of view which pushes folks to hold back on their level of engagement; and the isolation of those who dare to share all of the topics they like.

My Advice

  • Diversify your friend subscriptions
  • Encourage constructive discussion
  • Backup your opinions with facts
  • Empathize so you can be open-minded to see other viewpoints — you will learn more and appreciate others, and have others appreciate you for understanding them
  • Being open-minded also involves welcoming a variety of topics from unexpected sources
  • Be patient, you may have to endure some noise to gain more signal

In the end I think this will help you have more meaningful interactions, bring an added excitement to learning, and achieve greater satisfaction in your social media journey.

Is following a diverse group of people important to you?