The ubiquity of Media 2.0 is considerably overwhelming. Not only is there a ubiquity of information but also of relationships and opinions. RSS feeds, filters and other aggregators have made our lives easier however have they simply narrowed our points of view in a world where we believe plurality of information is what we are receiving?
Take me for example, through its trending issues Twitter creates a world of endless information and mind broadening opinions. Instead I choose to niche myself and devote my time to stalking my own aggregated list of fashion designers, magazines and ditzy celebrities. Through Twitter I have every opportunity to explore far beyond my physical realm could ever allow, yet I still choose to stay within my comfort zone. Paradoxically a virtual world with endless knowledge has been hyperniched to create an isolated narrow world.
As Danah Boyd explains in her speech at the Web 2.0 expo in New York, “If we’re not careful we’re going to develop the psychological equivalent of obesity. We’ll find ourselves consuming content that is least beneficial for ourselves and for society as a whole.” (Boyd 2009)
Boyd also goes on to discuss the new ubiquitous nature of relationships in our modern technological world. I must admit out of my 400 something friends on Facebook, I probably only communicate with a maximum of 50 (that’s stretching it) of them online, and even less in the real world. But that number, which is a complete misrepresentation of my actual friendship circle, gives me a sense of comfort in the knowledge that although I don’t communicate with them, they are still there whether they are really aware of my existence or not. A relationship (although completely invalid in the real world) does exist under the guise of ‘Facebook friends’. Boyd refers to this as ‘parasocial relations.’ A relationship that despite its presence online, does not gain any real benefits of social intimacy or bonding and cannot be transferred into the real social realm.
“We want to know what’s happening to other people because that information brings us closer to people. When we know something about someone, there’s a sense of connection.” (Boyd 2009) These connections are often one sided and only valid within the context of which it was created.
The dangers of believing that your Facebook ‘friends’ are real:
Boyd, D 2009, ‘Streams of Content, Limited Attention: The Flow of Information through Social Media’ Speech presented at the Web 2.0 Expo, New York, NY, 17 November.