Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blogger's Lament: Mediocrity in the Media



Notice: this is longer than the usual post and may be arduous.

For the love of social media, could we please get rid of these half-baked ideas that have permeated the blogosphere? With the advent of Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Blogger, Pinterest and oodles of different social media platforms, originality is few and far between. 

Although Pinterest was intended to serve as a virtual inspiration board (and it still does for many people), it has evolved into a free-for-all recycling system. Instead of finding unique material for blogs by doing the homework and scouring the internet, magazines, and lookbooks, dozens of images, typography, and crafts are salvaged from the wasteland of pointless “pins”. Granted, there are some true beauties on Pinterest. The artistic gems pinned by legitimate creatives are thought-provoking, beautiful, and truly unique. But once it has been repinned one million times over, reblogged by the hundreds, it’s no longer something unique. We aren’t amazed by it’s strange beauty. We don’t appreciate the effort the first blogger spent curating material. And why?

Because we’ve seen this before.

Tumblr encourages the same issue. Perhaps not originally, but as of now, yes. Read a post, favorite it, reblog it onto your page. Suddenly, your blog is filled with material from other places, other people, other blogs. Therefore, is it really your blog? None of the content is yours! You just like it. 

Here’s the pickle. 

We need these engines of social media circulating our ideas just to stay in the game. Without Pinterest and Tumblr, others would  have to actually come up with their own stuff. Without these sites, bloggers would have a profoundly more difficult task of getting “out there”. The recycling process is actually beneficial to the originator in several ways.

Primarily, social media is essentially free branding. It is thrifty self promotion at it’s finest. No need to pay a publicist, print out flyers (do we even use paper anymore?), call your friends and pray for word of mouth to spread like wildfire. With mass communication through email, Twitter, and Facebook, outreach is free and easy. Just what we like. 

To add to the love, sharing has never been more accessible. Whether on your desktop, laptop, or smart phone, social media is everywhere meaning our content has the potential to be everywhere. In the end, isn’t that the goal? Spread the love, share your thoughts, and get it all back tenfold in the form of killer blog stats. 

By having content repinned, reblogged, and passed around like a communal cup, the creators get more hits. Their blog gets more pageviews with every share; their following increases exponentially; they sell more; their platform becomes bigger and bigger. 

That platform, however, is becoming weaker and weaker. The mediocrity of social media is huge and growing. Yes, it is a phenomenal tool for communicating with an enormous population; it’s quality, on the other hand, is underwhelming. 

Would a world without Twitter really care about the frequency at which you drink bubble tea and chai latt├ęs, or go to the farmer’s market? Get rid of Pinterest and does anyone still have a fascination with melted crayon art? Let’s get real; that’s not art. It’s a rainy day child’s project. Yet, hundreds of adults become engrossed with these ideas that are mediocre at best.

Now Instagram has allowed the Average Joe to become a photographer. I’ve fallen victim to it, too. Taking pictures of food, a sign post, buildings. A fantastic app for sharing moments with friends is now a place where people document every dull part of their lives, including twelve pictures of their cat every day. 

That instant gratification of posting something live is contagious. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, even emails, have allowed potentially everyone in the world to be present in our lives. All my followers can see the ice cream I’m eating while I’m eating it. Instagram even has instant in it’s name. It’s that obvious. We want it now.

This desire for live updates and instant gratifaction is the driving force behind the mediocre ideas and circulation of someone else’s work. Everything must be done so incredibly fast, we can’t fathom taking the time to come up with quality work. Instead, ideas are whipped up in ten minutes and are complete with the easy tap, tap, tap. Press “post”, click “publish”, tap “share” and it’s ready for the world to see.

The world might be able to view it, but it might not be ready for the world. Just because it’s published or shared doesn’t mean it’s any good. In fact, because it’s so easy to post any and all half baked ideas, it’s difficult to find a good one! The lack of quality control is rampant in our virtual world, leading to a sense of entitlement for all involved.

Nothing really has to go through an editor or publisher because anyone can post on the internet. Therefore, whatever inane thought just passed through your skull is apparently fully-formed. It’s a legitimate argument, an insightful comment. Right?

Wrong. 

Just because you can share everything doesn’t mean you should. No matter how many things you repin and reblog, you’ll never have the success that a tried and true blogger has. The blogs that are legitimte, successful, and interesting post fresh ideas, new concepts. They present us with novelties and get us to rethink what we once thought. We are informed and enlightened by them. They add to the conversation. 

Ultimately, isn’t that what social media is all about? A conversation on a national, even global scale. That should be emphasized and encouraged. Enjoy the fantastically curated work by great bloggers, photographers, designers and writers. That’s why Pinterest and Tumblr exist. Communicate with a vast population over Twitter and Facebook. But let’s actually contribute intellectually and artistically, not just add noise with mediocre ideas half heartedly. 

Get in there and say something new.

Photo via Instagram 

2 comments:

  1. Totally understand where you're coming from on this. As an artist, it makes me cringe when people can easily say that they created a piece of work that isn't theirs, and I do get tired of reposts all over the place.

    Love what you said here:

    "The blogs that are legitimte, successful, and interesting post fresh ideas, new concepts. They present us with novelties and get us to rethink what we once thought. We are informed and enlightened by them. They add to the conversation."

    You're quite the writer, dear!! You have a true talent.

    On the flip side (also from the visual point of view), I have to admit that sites (mainly Pinterest) have significantly helped boost my creativity. Before I started blogging, I had an insane amount of trouble getting inspired by my immediate environment, and when Pinterest came around, I WISHED it had been available when I was in school. I think it would have made me see outside of the box, because when I started using it, my world opened up to all the endless possibilities. I've learned to appreciate and admire things I used to dislike, and it's amazing to be able to find beauty in the mundane, like the sign post or buildings you mentioned. I'm a lover of the boring / mundane, I suppose. :)

    For me, there's an overkill of social media, and I feel like I'm drowning in it sometimes (and it kind of feels like a popularity game). And geez, I only have Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter (which I barely use).

    There's definitely a fine line between inspiration and copying, and I definitely don't want to be part of the latter.

    You hold a good argument, Sarah. Well done! :)

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    1. Danie, you are a sweetie! And I must agree, Pinterest has been a revelation! I'm stunned by all the beautiful things in this world and it's pretty exhilarating when you get overwhelmed by something gorgeous and new...and on the internet of all places! I know Abby loves it, and she's gotten me hooked, because I just can't stay away from how lovely and peaceful (funny, I know) it can be.

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I'm all about conversation over here, so what's on your mind?