Thursday, December 8, 2011

Is Social Networking Fragmenting the World?

That might sound like a dumb question. "Of course it's not, it's bringing the world closer together!" might be your initial response.

That was true in 2009. But in 2011, I think that we've surpassed the peak of social networking and, in some regards, might be headed into a bit of a valley of fragmentation, and here's why:

As I've mentioned in my introduction, I run other blogs aside from this one. As these blogs have become more popular, there's sort of an odd division popping up. As we try and maximize our exposure and traffic, our posts go out to Twitter, Facebook, we have comments, and we have forums. These are all different forms of "social networking" that our readers, fans, and even our haters can use to communicate with each other. The problem is that, with so many different platforms for people to express their views, there is very little cross-over in dialogue (and realistically, there seems to be a huge difference in the cultures between those who use each platform with which to communicate).

Those who Tweet at us don't leave comments. Those who post in the forums don't write on our facebook. I'm not even sure that we have more than a few dozen (out of thousands) of facebook followers and Twitter followers that overlap.

In this sense, I think that the conversation is stifled a bit as a result. Whenever good conversations start rolling in the comments, it seems like the Tweeting stops. We have a ton of activity from our Twitter followers, but our facebook viewers are extrtemely passive (a few likes here and there, but rarely any comments).

It's sort of something we have to learn to deal with as a new generation. Website comments became huge business, so people created forums dedicated solely to "commenting". It then blossomed onto facebook, where people can comment on their friends' daily lives. Facebook made so much money off of it that immitators have popped up everywhere, and while there's some level of integration between them all - each makes attempts to leach off of the others' popularities - most people see that as redundancy.

This might be exactly why Google Plus, despite a large initial outpour of registered users, as been a flop. People are already burned out trying to keep up with multiple social networking platforms. Have you checked your Google+ feed lately? I just did, for the first time in a month. It's got 200 people on it, but only 2 interactions.

It's more depressing to those of us who have a large audience of followers, I suppose. I often lament internally that my Twitter followers won't become friend with my commenters, but as of now they seem determined to maintain their differences. But I just know that if they got together, they could really come up with some ideas!

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