The Space Between

The “Look at Me” meme is a universal and annoying facet of society. It exists in pop culture (success of American Idol followed by the success of William Hung, and then all who followed suit in the aftermath). It jumps out at sporting events (say, streakers). Something tells me that it’s usually the same jerk who yells “Free Bird” at a concert.

And, obviously, it has its lasting effects on the Internet. Find any YouTube video with “First!” on it and you know what I mean.

This is just a product of being an attention-seeking wingnut in a crowd of many. It sounds pessimistic, but it’s really hard to rationalize that everyone is smart and willing to jump right to intelligent back-and-forth. In traditional information flow models, that’s fine. The person with a loudspeaker doesn’t really have to listen to exist.

I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but it’s a little bit of a buffer.

But, when you get into social media, well, that’s when things get interesting:

In the head, there’s so much space between, things will be fine. It also means that the volume is really too great to listen. As you get further down the tail to the niche audiences, though, a hierarchy is really hard to establish since lower volume means that more members have an equal share. They are more likely to constructively participate.

But, let’s say you run a Techie blog and you point out something new you are following, even in passing. Should we be surprised that within minutes, people are intentionally trying to grab your attention with stupid tricks? (I wish I could link to some of these, but Twitter already fixed the problem and closed up shop).

Here’s the danger though: that’s incredibly easy to ignore if you’re the author/source. It’s incredibly close to not listening. The follow-up story didn’t involve any of those clammoring for the author’s attention. It was that the issue had been resolved.

For those people concerned with audience size over quality audience and fully social participation: I have bad news. You are putting the space between that comes with the establishment of “one-to-many” media. And that means the “Look at Me” tactics are going to get worse.


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