Recently I came across couple of articles on Fast Company which talk about something I have been thinking for quite some time.
The writer’s theory is that Social Media channels like Twitter, Facebook etc. enable a new level of transparency which allow users to constantly compare and evaluate oneself against another while Human nature’s competitiveness will eventually spur innovation, because each one of us will try to out do each other by bettering oneself. Though this seems an interesting theory, I have quite a few disagreements. The competitive nature could at best spur a debate or challenge of ideas, according to me social media envy leading to innovation is a too much of an ask.
It would be helpful to understand the nature of content on Social Media-
1. Most of the interactions that happen through social media channels are just tidbits or news, viral content or content that has engagement, amusement value etc.
2. Most of the content shared by users on these networks is not their own content, the users merely share and consume content which is created by someone else.
3. Social Media is no measure of either Performance or Quality. All the likes, comments, followers, re-tweets are more similar to TRP ratings than any measure of genuinity.
4. Social media shouts at best can at best be about attention and eye balls, so it cannot really be a scale of sophistication of a person.
My theory is that since most users are content consumers, the envy effect if it exists, drives competitive consumption rather than innovation. When I say competitive consumption, I mean users tendency to out do each in spending other say Check-in’g to expensive places, look rich etc. I believe the envy effect leads to unhealthy competitive consumption rather than friendly competition.
Any healthy competition between two people might at best lead to marginal improvement in creative user engagement and marketing tactics than innovation.
P.S: You might want to read my previous blog on Is Facebook driving Celebritization of our lives?