Infinite Scrolling

Friday, 26 January 2018

Private but public: how social media is changing the way we communicate.

We broadcast our communications.

This is what we do when we communicate on social media.

So, when replying to a message or initiating a message we are thinking about how many people it is going out to.

This is an entirely different way of communicating, as compared to a conversation in real life group or a one-to-one conversation on a phone.

Notifications on our smart phone (see my blog post 'The ever changing telephone') are ever urging us to reply. Our desire is to be nice to other people and on an app this desire is served only by sending a reply. The response may be just an emoticon. But reply we must.

One message and replies start pouring in from other members in our group. Urging us to reply again. The ever-increasing replies and messages keep us engaged. (see my blog post 'Changing greetings').

It is so easy to allow more people to send direct one-to-one messages to you. Sending messages is also now so easy. Along with being members of social media groups we are also having numerous one-to-one messaging going on.

If we start accepting messages from a person it seems rude not to reply. This is so even though we may be aware that the other person is broadcasting the messages to a large number people. We may not always reply to such messages. But they accumulate in our inbox. They sort of expect to be replied to.

Our behavior on social media is ever being observed. There is a lingering thought we carry about consequences of replying or not replying to a particular message on our social media group. We feel that a reply or even a non-reply may affect our relationship in some manner. Our mind is mulling over such matters often. Responding to the compulsion to reply and the consequence of not replying.

In the pre social media era, we communicated to people in our vicinity. Now we communicate to people around the globe.

A huge scaling up of our communication sphere.

Every person in the group is alone. Every person in the group is talking to many. In very large groups it sometimes feels that we are in a frenzy of communication.

We spend a considerable amount of time looking at our screens.

Though we are sitting in our private spaces but our messaging is public.

We live in an ever connected world.

A private world connected always to the public world.

A world communicating to us and expecting and cajoling us to reply.

All the time.

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