Frictionless Sharing and the Gruesome Death of Choice

The whole concept of automated sharing makes my skin crawl, it really does. The social web is built around the sharing of thoughts, opinions, beliefs, attitudes, information and pictures of cats. And that’s fine; I love a good LOLcat as much as the next man. But when did it become reasonable to share the stuff you’re doing, reading and listening to without so much as clicking a button?

There’s a lot written about information overflow, and some great stuff written about how to reduce the volume and wrestle control of your online life back from the grasp of the hungry wolf that is the social web. Susan Murphy wrote last week about the dichotomy of the seemingly endless touch points we now have with the world, how they make us more productive and social, and yet about the sheer noise this creates. She suggests three key ways of taking back control, including turning off ALL notifications and, wait for it, turning your tech off. (I know, crazy right?!)

The Aim of Frictionless SharingAgainst this, we’ve got Zuck ramming yet more (pointless?) information down our throats with the introduction of 60 new Timeline apps that work BY DEFAULT UNLESS WE TURN THEM OFF. What?! So let’s get this straight – unless I proactively turn the function off, every time I write a review on Trip Advisor or listen to a tune on Spotify or pin something in Pinterest or buy something on Ticketmaster, I’m going to be telling all my Facebook friends about it? That’s not sharing, it’s spamming.

The Communications Industry Must Suffer

While those of us working in the comms industry are desperately trying to educate our clients to communicate in a relevant and timely manner by participating not broadcasting, the very platforms we’re encouraging them to do this on are linking up in some kind of monstrous death-by-information game of ‘who can share the most crap’. Maybe I’d like to share my favourite tracks from Spotify, but I want the option of sharing them, not the option of NOT sharing them. How bloody arrogant!

There was a great article in The Guardian yesterday about our increasing obsession with revealing every minute detail of our lives. Author Charlie Brooker says: “When sharing becomes automated, I get the heebie-jeebies. I’m not telling you [the stuff I’m doing]. The software is. I am a character in The Sims. Hover the cursor over my head and watch that stat feed scroll.” How right. How very right. And yet, irony upon Grand Canyon sized irony, The Guardian is part of Facebook’s frictionless sharing initiative. My Facebook friends knew I was reading that article before I’d finished it and decided whether I liked it enough to even want to share it with them. And THAT, my friends, is twisted and scary and all kinds of wrong.

If this is the future of social media and online communications, I’m really not sure I’m going to like it. Or want any part of it.