Everything is social Part II

THE ROLE OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA USER AS AN INFORMATION PROCESSOR

As a SM (social media) user, your role and purpose are not analogous to that of a “consumer” even if that’s what you seem to be doing most of the time. And as a producer selling your wares on SM, you are only, indirectly, looking out for consumers; you might be looking for willing marketers.

Although I hate to use such ugly neologisms, many SM users are prosumers, that is, a combination of both consumers and producers. That is the greatest liberating force of the digital economy, as well as its main weakness and curse. A user may join a certain network to follow some influential people, but if through his own actions or some other reason he increases his reach and popularity, he is now a producer of content, too. So when people talk about SM attention economy and competition, keep in mind that it’s an economy that sometimes doesn’t have a clear distinction between consumers and producers, where most of the former want to be the latter, and when people do not compete so much for neutral consumers (like different brands compete for your attention at the supermarket) as between each other as producers/influencers, so as to get rid of the competition within a community(civil wars being the worst wars, and all that.) As it is very difficult to gauge the quality of a lot of digital “content” or “products,” it’s not uncommon that this is done not by convincing any hypothetical consumer of the superiority of your product, but by tarring the competition, by destroying them at a moral or ideological level, to make sure people don’t want to be associated with them. Hence the known nastiness of SM, which ironically is sometimes directly proportional to how low the stakes are.

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