Take for example blogging. Blogging started as, by and large, a group of people who had a lot to say but were cut off from the mainstream. What started as somewhat of a minor revolution became inundated with ‘celebrity bloggers’ who desired to be ‘followed.’ Soon thereafter, big businesses and enterprise took blogging as their own. Newspaper and celebrity became the only blogs people took the time to read and thus, people gave up trying. Isn’t that eerily close to current situation with social media?
Don’t get me wrong, I avidly Tweet, Facebook, write on Blogger, check in on GetGlue and I’ve been known to take the odd pointless Instagram picture, yet, I find myself increasingly being told to do so by various enterprises. The act of opinion based communication through these social networks has been compromised and if I was sharing this post on Twitter I now have to figure out which hashtag to attach in order to be read and for search engine optimisation. You find yourself having to comply with the trending topics, some of which have been started by big companies, TV shows or sporting events and although they may seem randomly attached to the end of the tweet, it does equate to more readers. That may be the saddest part of all.
The pure unadulterated over-indulgence of social media on television is perhaps the part that infuriates me the most. Why does a hashtag graphic have to be attached to an advert for hair care products? What use is flashing a Facebook account for nappies really going to achieve? And since when did the amount of followers an individual have equate to talent? It is a shame to say that the WWE has become one of the absolute worst examples of this over saturation of social media. WWE not only crams as many graphics about the Raw related terms that are trending into their now three hour live broadcast, but they jump on any opportunity to talk about how ‘socially active’ they are. Advertisements will pop up to tell you how many more followers they have than companies such as Pepsi or organisations like the NFL, name graphics upon entrance will give you the superstars social media details, and Twitter/Facebook polls, hashtags and various over ploys to get you to tweet about the show will be continuously talked about throughout the show. In addition, the WWE has begun to promote the use of ‘Tout,’ a hybrid of Twitter and YouTube where 10-second video messages can be recorded and sent in to potentially be aired on the show. It all becomes genuine overkill and really takes away from the show.
With so many other social networks getting scooped up and being taken advantage of by businesses, the future for both opinion based communication and television looks a little bleak. Social media is a great medium for a generation with a short attention span and fulfils a 24/7connection fantasy for its users. However, it’s a matter of when and not if the currently popular social media will get swallowed up entirely by the marketing and infatuation of big businesses and other media. Do you really want the season finale of your favourite show decided by Twitter poll? Me neither.