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To share is to live 

Tell Everyone Why We Share and Why It Matters
We all live in the nation Facebook – so we should mobilize a critical understanding of how this nation works. 


We may live in the time of the sharing economy, but the more significant we live in deli gens time. We share our lives. Especially on social media the phenomenon is expressed. Here we give out everything from prosaic considerations that it is good enough that it is finally Friday; birthday greetings to near and far; attitudes to this and hints; news that we think others must read (or that we want to show the outside world that we have read) and much, much else. We share for a living, it may seem like. That once something has been shared, it has happened. Then it is manifested and thus a real part of our lives. For my life has become yours and our lives too. There is a special variation of community in the life that is lived both inside and outside the social media, and perhaps it does not make any sense at all to distinguish between inside and outside as it all gradually coalesces gradually.

No new enjoy. All of this – and more – the acclaimed journalism scientist Alfred Hermida has written a book about. Hermida's journalistic background does not deny. He has previously worked as a journalist and editor at the BBC and The Guardian, and journalism is one of the fields in society that has been extensively affected by the arrival of social media. Hermida also gets into this in the book, but it was another thought that started the project. That explains Hermida like this – via Skype, of course:

“A lot is about the here and now, but we lack a historical context. We see it all as new, but it is not new enjoy. The reason we love social media is not because we love Facebook and Twitter, but because it points to natural human needs to be social, which is then reinforced by the new media. That is why with the book I wanted to take a step back and get the historical context. ”

Deep drifts. The journalist's practical background already reveals itself in the title, which is aptly catchy and straightforward. And there is a good reason for exactly the focus on sharing that the book's red thread pursues:

“Social media is very much linked to who we are, how we see ourselves and how we want to be seen. We make a symbolic statement about how we are sharing with the outside world. Who we are is both how we see ourselves, but also how others see us. Already Maslow's needs pyramid established that when the basic needs such as food and heat are covered, the desire to be part of something greater comes, among other things. In order to be social, which human nature is most seeking, you have to give something of yourself. And that is exactly why the social media's sharing focus just falls into the basic needs of man, ”Hermida explains.

However, social media is not simply a place that changes our ways of interacting and representing ourselves to each other. It is also an entity affecting other fields of society. This is because, according to Hermida, so much of our communication is mediated by a few platforms, which then affects other parts of society. This applies, for example, to the Hollywood film industry, which has had to deal with very fast user reviews, which have a very demonstrable effect on ticket sales. This has resulted in, among other things, that the film companies have changed the screening structure and introduced fan screenings.

Monopoly solution. Another field that has changed to that extent is journalism. It happens on several fronts. One example is that journalism and journalists no longer have a "monopoly" on the news; now there are others who too breaker them. The idea of ​​the journalist as an eyewitness has in part been replaced by other, more ordinary people. We have seen this in connection with the Arab Spring, but also gradually with the development in Syria, which, however, has also illustrated the complexity of this change:

"Fake news has always been there."

"There are many positive aspects to hearing voices that are other than the media, but a negative aspect is also that it becomes one type of voice that is heard online, which then does not represent the public in a broad way. It is often technology-savvy, urban and slightly elitist voices that come out, "says Alfred Hermida, who also points out that fake news not as such is a new phenomenon:

«Fake news have always been there. In 1700th-century England, the news often had a speculative side, but the new thing is that one can use false information on social media, among other things, to change attitudes and thus use it as a powerful weapon. ”

"We have always met in public spaces such as parks, cafes and pubs to exchange thoughts and information and to showcase us."

Vyears nation Facebook. The social media are therefore all-pervasive, and one can well be concerned with mobilizing a fear, when Hermida points out how few companies actually sit on the vast majority of the platforms that huser our interpersonal interaction. But what does it really mean, that it is all mediated?

“Platforms help shape what we can. You don't see everything. You see what the algorithm wants you to see. Especially in a way that the platform gets to know as much about you as possible. Of course, the desire is to stay on the platform and gladly put you in a positive state. This has an effect on how the system works. It will typically embrace the familial and not challenge you, but will make you feel comfortable and thus more responsive to advertising, ”says the researcher.

After all, we have always met in public spaces such as parks, cafes and pubs to exchange thoughts and information, and of course also to show ourselves. What is new is that these spaces – which are then mediated – are partly designed to meet some very specific, commercial goals, and partly to some large companies that naturally have to make money – and preferably a lot of money. Just as the parks of the past were designed for certain types of activities, Facebook has a specific infrastructure that prioritizes certain types of actions over others. The difference is simply that you can't vote those responsible away, just as you can with politicians who have decided that a park should look like this and such. Should we all jump off Facebook, you could conveniently ask, and Hermida answers:

In a hurry. “We get certain benefits, but we give up parts of the power. It is important to be aware of this, among other things that we are being manipulated in the news stream. That is why we need to increase media understanding. We are all citizens of the nation Facebook. And we should understand how this nation is screwed up. The problem is we don't have time for that. So we lurk into it. Creating a critical understanding of Facebook and other social media will be challenging. It has to happen already in schools and in our children. ”

Steffen Moestrup
Steffen Moestrup
Regular contributor to MODERN TIMES, and docent at Denmark's Medie- og Journalisthøjskole.

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