The Redditors, The Tumblrs, and the Tweeters

With a healthy dose of connectedness, it is easy to notice the patterns Internet uses fall into. With a healthy dose of connectedness in your life, it’s easy to notice patterns in the things you read. For instance, a week ago everyone was an advocate against censorship. Out of my near-nine-hundred-person network of people, I’d have to say that at least half of them had some quip about the SOPA and PIPA bills. Even stranger, most of them had THE EXACT SAME thing to say. The exact same pictures to post, and the exact same videos to share. Odd how that works.

It’s not just activism, though. I agree that social networking sites and the internet provide a viral environment in which people can easily rally toward a cause, but it’s more than that. Take the meme, for instance. In case you haven’t heard the term, I can guarantee you that you’ve seen them. A funny piece of media, sometimes scrawled hastily in MS paint, with a striking text caption superimposed above the image. You probably laughed at one sometime this week, or just before you read this article.

Slowly, but surely, (actually, very quickly now that I think about it) the mentality of social networkers is beginning to evolve. Let’s think about Facebook in 2004, or 2006 when it’s userbase grew, back then the idea of the status was to share what you were doing with your friends. Facebook used to automatically put the word “is” at the beginning of your status. Your feed was filled with text, or images people posted of themselves with their friends. Today, we find ourselves amongst a feed of curated content that reflects the perspectives of the people contained within our friends list.

We are beginning to know more about a friend’s without actually having to interact with them. What they think is funny, what their political views are, funny thoughts they just had; anything appealing, really. We look at this content, approve with a thumbs up, or reply with something pointed to add ourselves, or decide to repeat the same message out to our networks. With such a diverse collection of content, trends begin to occur and it’s easy to identify the origins of content. Spontaneity begins to disappear, and you realize it’s less random than it all seems.

Enter gen-y, where user generated content reigns supreme. As the userbases of sites like Reddit, Tumblr, and YouTube grow; so does the spread of user-generated content. Some Tumblogs consist of only re-blogged material, and it’s members are perfectly content with that. It’s not about where the material came from, it’s about who picked it and their propensity to appeal to their network on a consistent basis. The same concept exists within retweets, shares, likes, and upvotes. Welcome to the generation of personality curators, the generation that uses the internet to represent their personalities, the latest form of entertainment. We love memes, and they’re here to stay for a while.

As technology improves, it’s only likely that we start to share more and more. I don’t think that we’re too far off from having cameras as occular implants that are always on. At the end of the day, we’ll go through our entire recording of the day and pick out the funniest things that happened around us, and post them live for our entire network to see. It’s a scary thought now, but who knows. A couple of years from now, we might be wondering how we ever lived without it.

In the meantime, I commend the Redditors, the Tumblrs, and the Tweeters. Without you, my day would be filled with less hilarity.

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