Once in awhile I’ll see that someone I don’t follow has shared a really cool image, or gif or infographic or something similar. So occasionally, I’ll use the native Twitter app (because I’m cool like that) and check out the media tab, to see what kind of content that they’re sharing. I’ll often do the same for someone that I follow. And I’ve noticed something; nobody is making their own stuff anymore.
Now there are a few exceptions to this rule. There are a couple of great companies that create their own graphics and a few people that post a very specific category of images. But in general, no one is sharing their own stuff. It would seem to me, that in many ways, we’ve moved PAST our own content. What does that even mean, and why does it matter?
Twitter, as anyone who follows me knows, recently launched an upgrade to their app that allows users to search for and embed gifs (short, looping videos) into their posts. Gifs are a very easy way to share a general feeling about a topic using funny or well known or interesting imagery. Now, anytime someone wants to convey an emotion on Twitter, they just use a gif. Think someone did something cool, here’s a picture of a celebrity clapping. Can’t believe how bad someone messed up, here’s a picture of a man doing something dumb and hurting himself. And so on. Ad nausea.
Now I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with this. But if you’re trying to convey online who you are and what you think, this obviously isn’t the method I would most likely choose. It’s fine to, “pepper your feed with lolz” as someone recently put it to me, but if you’re looking to let people know who you really are, there has to be more.
I don’t have an obvious solution to this issue. I usually do. I usually end my blog posts with some sensei-esque wisdom that I’ve gleamed through my experiences and interactions. But I’ve got nothing. You see, gifs are funny. And they work. They make sense. People can easily get a point across and on a platform that can’t properly detect or display tone, this is a step in the right direction. I’m simply concerned that as we move from through the content highway, from consumption to creation to sharing, we may lose sight of individuality and personality. Look, if you follow me, you’re going to see some cats shaking their head and celebrities making gross faces. But you’re also going to hear what I have to say. I love hearing what people have to say and I hope that those individuals, whose voices I love, never replace their words and ideas entirely with a picture of a walrus clapping.