On the caustic focus on temporality in social media

In thinking about the temporality of social media, I’ve realize that sites like Twitter and Facebook focus incredibly hard on the here-and-now. At best you may get a few posts that go back a day or two when reading. I find it’s very rare that anyone is interacting with my tweets from 2010 or 2013, and typically when those are being liked, it’s by bots trying to give themselves a history.

We’re being trained to dip our toes into a rapidly flowing river and not focus on deeper ideas and thoughts or reflect on longer pieces further back in our history.

On the other hand, reading more and more from my variety of feed readers, I realize that on the broader web, I’m seeing people linking to and I’m also reading much older blog posts. In the last few days alone I’ve seen serious longform material from 2001, 2005, 2006, 2011, and 2018 just a few minutes ago.

The only time I see long tail content on Twitter is when someone has it pinned to the top of their page.

Taking this a level deeper, social is thereby forcing us to not only think shallowly, but to make our shared histories completely valueless. This is allowing some to cry fake news and rewrite history and make it easier for their proponents to consume it and believe it all. Who cares about the scandals and problems of yesterday when tomorrow will assuredly be better? And then we read the next Twitter-based treat and start the cycle all over again. 

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

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