Pics or It Didn’t Happen (But It Happened)
The Network Effect
Continuous Partial Attention
Writing for the Guardian, Jacob Silverman attempts to explain the reasoning that has created and continued the shared psyche of the populist mantra, “pics or it didn’t happen.”
“Social media depends on recognition — more specifically, on acts of recognition. The thing itself is less interesting than the fact that we know someone involved, and if it is interesting or important, we can claim some tenuous connection to it.”
One answer is that it is a byproduct of the network effect: the more people who are part of a network, the more one’s experience can seem impoverished by being left out.
I believe that the author has in some areas done a very good job of understanding and explaining the psychology of social media, but in others has grossly misrepresented reality if not for the majority people, at least a decently sized section of people. I believe that his presentation of the ideas of ambient awareness and continuous partial attention are correct. I am especially interested in the idea of continuous partial attention as it perfectly describes some of my closest friends. Their attention can easily be interrupted when they receive a notification for social media such as Snapchat. Once they do not receive a reply, their attention immediately shifts back, but this oscillation is a very good illustration of the noted effect.
Where I think the author provides an over simplification is the idea of the network effect. I would consider myself a “lurker” as the author put no effort into trying to find a better word for those people who do not frequently use social media. If I were to say a term, it would be more like “spectator” or “craftsman” as social media to me is nothing but a tool, one I am forced to use in order to make and keep real life appointments. In participating in intramural sports or being invited to attend an informal party, it is easier to create one event and send it to pre-created groups on social media than to individually message everyone. Recognizing this, I have created a Facebook to receive these invitations, but this has not created in me the fear of missing out when I do not look at Facebook for days or weeks at a time.
What kind of social media user are you? Are you the kind to upload and post frequently as the author suggests? Are you a spectator or craftsmen? Are you distinctly and only a social media consumer? How about a completely different different category?