It is quite remarkable to think that only a decade or two ago a thank you note was sent via the mail system. Even more mind boggling is the disappearance of the public phone. Progress has taken so many forms and the media industry is probably the most profound. The mediums of communication have changed so dramatically in a half generation and rarely do we stop to recognize how the baby went out with the bath water.
Newspapers, magazines and television created a measured digestion of news for multiple generations. Still these mediums were changes only developed in the last two centuries. The media could produce news in a comprehensive manner and the user could digest news at their own pace. Literally (sorry for the pun) both production and intake thru these conduits is digested at measured rates. As social media has proliferated, both production and velocity of information and receipt has become exaggerated and more anonymous. The sheer volume increase caused is changing attention spans globally. Now a pen and a fact is morphed to the internet and an opinion. Mobility has increased velocity taking the spread of information to staggering levels. There is simply no way to digest information anymore without changing filters. Filters differ due to biases and experience. Thus the new world of social media creates the Trump/Sanders phenomenon. Headlines become dominant, facts become increasingly scarce and attention spans shorten. The mediums of news for those growing up without legacy news sources is dominated by 142 character bursts. In some cases, authorship is not even known. In other cases, the author has no expertise or experience but opinion is the sole content.
The social media phenomenon allows for opinion and news to be driven by authors with no consistent agenda. The audience can go viral with no notice. To some this is their nemesis. To others their intent. It acts as a megaphone for opinion that previously was not available and limited to smaller social circles. It is both an efficient system and an abused system. It has changed communication eternally. Communications skills developed solely in this era and younger generations are dramatically impacted. Conflict resolution and dealing with contrasting opinion is filtered totally differently. Filters are now established totally differently, shutting out selected forums totally and creating an impatience and intolerance of differing opinions.
Social media and its inherent universality is in the fourth inning in a game destined to go extra innings. It will change politics, social norms and blur cultural lines at a faster pace than ever before. Hopefully facts won’t be totally lost and our digestion of information will allow us to cut thru all the chatter and develop filters for this new age. Another result of unintended consequences of enhanced technology on our lives.
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