Saturday

Of social media, anti-rationalism and low expectations

 'Social Media Detox' is good. I say this to all those of you who checked on me to figure what happened to my blog and where was I to be found on social media. If you write on a topic that is not necessarily mainstream, the 'noise' in social media and the content blitzkrieg, indeed gets to you.

We tend to lose sense of what's important and what's not, what's relevant and what's not.

photograph of Independence Square, Kiev, Ukraine
TIME ASIA COVER MARCH 10, 2014
Recently,  I got a taste of what I was missing as my reading habits became increasingly 'social'. It was on a long flight back to India where I happened to pick up the TIME magazine as I settled on my seat after dinner. Years ago I was a regular reader of the magazine and was now shocked to see now how much the magazine had shrunk!

It almost seemed like a pamphlet, the last few pages of a news magazine trying to hold its own against social media onslaught.

I don't really know how the magazine is doing in its digital format, but I as read through the stories, news analysis and updates it was the magazine I always knew - solid research, impeccable reporting, depth of analysis but most importantly stellar news judgement and news selection. The role of an editorial team in planning and presenting content was but obvious.

It's not the digital bit that I am wary about, but the social bit.

Social media not only makes us publishers of our content but also offers us more choices in terms of what we read. But our reading habits and information gathering skills again, sometimes, are limited by our awareness or the lack of it, exposure, biases and habits. We may not always make the best choices in what we read and sometimes, as I realized while reading the magazine on my flight back, it's good to have professionals to help keep our focus on topics that are important. We need our editors and reporters back and find a way to keep them at the job they do for us and not let the social media deluge take over completely.

The competitive noise of social media has its own place but is definitely not an answer to everything. I leave you with this editorial from the The Washington Post: The Dumbing of America, by Susan Jacoby that has interesting insights into how the proliferation of video content potentially affects how we make sense of our world.
"(We are)...in danger of losing our hard-won cultural capital to a virulent mixture of anti-intellectualism, anti-rationalism and low expectations."
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