Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hashtag Confidential

I'm going to gloss over yesterday's news concerning Paris, because there are people who know a lot more about the situation than myself, and do it better. This blog is hardly the place for it, anyway.

However, there's sort of a minor ancillary flareup about the whole thing, and that's people's reactions on social media. I've seen no less that a half dozen news stories about celebrities getting in trouble over commenting about the attack--most (although not all) being almost painfully benign.

While I'm always in support of social media, since I think it's important for a variety of reasons, I do think this is a major drawback to the entire concept. It's extraordinarily difficult to sum up an acceptable sentiment in a limited number of characters while simultaneously making sure that the thousands, if not millions, of people who see it aren't going to fundamentally misinterpret what you are saying.

Basically, when it comes to things like this, it's practically impossible that you're not going to offend someone with even the most innocuous statement. There's not enough room to explore thoughts and there's too many receptors to misunderstand things. And because of that, social media is more or less relegated to topics of only modest importance, reinforcing its status as something to not take seriously.

Which is a shame. Social media can, and has, done a lot of good, but it seems like even the smallest of missteps turn into a massive problem. At some point, most people are just going to opt out, and that's a shame.

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