Social Media: Harmless Or Slowly Hindering The Future Of Literature?

With an increasing use of social media, and different technologies to gather information from such as mobile phones, kindles, iPad’s etc, we see a lot of different companies and agencies posting articles online because they know that it is going to reach their viewers. But how much of this information on like, share and opinionated-crazy platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, actually gets across to its viewers?

A published article in 2014 on Facebook by the National Public Radio (NPR) titled “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?” was released as a joke to determine how many of their followers would share and/or post an opinion without actually reading the article. If a reader did happen to click on the link and read the article, this is what waited for them:

Congratulations, genuine readers, and happy April Fools’ Day!

We sometimes get the sense that some people are commenting on NPR stories that they haven’t actually read. If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it. Then let’s see what people have to say about this “story.”

Best wishes and have an enjoyable day,

Your friends at NPR.

The results were shocking. An outstanding number of people voiced their opinion on why America doesn’t read, completely unaware that they, themselves, are actually complying with the articles point that American’s don’t in fact read anymore.

Following this eye-opening find, the folks at IFLScience were itching to jump at the opportunity to study this outcome with their own joke articles. Their study, entitled “Social Click: What and Who Gets Read on Twitter?“, found that “up to 59 percent of links shared on Twitter have never actually been clicked by that person’s followers, suggesting that social media users are more into sharing content than actually clicking on and reading it”. The dataset of the study amounted to 2.8 million shares, which would have been responsible for a possible 75 billion potential views of the articles. Of this, there were only 9.6 million actual clicks.

The study goes on to look at the psychology behind what makes people want to share content, regardless of whether they actually read it. This research, conducted by the New York Times Customer Insight Group looked into the motivations behind sharing which showed that 68% of viewers share to reinforce and project a particular image of themselves, while the rest said that they share information to inform and “enrich” those around them. This then raises the question of whether social, or other online media, is just a source to like and present viewpoints to reinforce our own beliefs, although we aren’t actually interested in the information for the sake of knowledge.

Many of the comments on actual legitimate articles express knowledge or opinions that are already expressed within these articles, often being within the first paragraph. if opinion-givers actually read the article, they would know this.

So is social media causing society to become illiterate, ill-informed, image-conscious, click-addicted people? Absolutely. Congratulations to those out there who still value the timeless power and satisfaction of knowledge.


Featured Image via Pixabay


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