Laying down a social marker

frustrated_writer_by_photonerd88-d3gobx6BrainJuicer’s Tom Ewing wrote a blog post today about how the way we listen to music could change.

He envisioned people will soon have “attention regimes, in the way they follow dietary regimes and exercise regimes, and will have them in public: a proclamation of one’s listening regime will become a kind of social marker”; adding:

Demonstrating you can pay attention in a world of instant clicks will be a mark of presumed character (and bragging rights) in the same way demonstrating you keep fit in a world of chairs and screens is among white-collar workers now.”

Ephemerality is built into the internet.

If you don’t update your website Google will punish you by pushing you down its search rankings.

Fail to tweet for any extended period and people will unfollow you.

Don’t update your status and friends will accuse you of being a ‘Facebook lurker’.

The internet demands that we keep having opinions and we keep sharing them.

The image of ourselves we create online cannot be allowed to pass its sell-by-date.

It’s not enough to have written a series of original, thoughtful articles about a subject on a blog. We have to keep refreshing them and demonstrate that our ideas are evolving.

On Twitter, we feel compelled to keep sharing articles, even if we have nothing to add.  We’re merely signalling to the world that we haven’t lost interest in a subject.

On LinkedIn, we need to keep making new connections to demonstrate our ‘network’ is growing.

In the process, however, we lose sight of the quality of the ideas we’re sharing, the value of the people we’re connecting to and the reasons why we started using these sites in the first place.

When the quantity of our activity surpasses the quality in importance, we ultimately fail in our endeavour to create the image we were once trying to cultivate.

The struggle to cope with the demand for the new is why sites like Brain Pickings have become so popular; the internet having also sparked a nostalgia for sharing quotes from dead authors whose opinions are allowed to stand still.

Like them, we shouldn’t be afraid to allow what we once said to continue to speak for what we still think.

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