Lately, I’ve noticed an increasing number of bloggers I used to read for coverage of, or comment on, social media tools and strategy have gotten odder, more bilious and petulant (and sometimes outright nasty), full of gnomic utterances and pronuncamientos; moving from a giddy sense of discovery and moment to self-aggrandizement, ad hominem attacks and embarrassing revelations.
Perhaps social media has both an aggregating and an amplifying effect, so that simple mood swings seem like personality changes, and collective mood swings seem like trends. Perhaps the insulated world of social media produces the same hothouse effect that results in the cruel crones of a Lorca play or the bitter, back-stabbing faculty in any University you’d care to name. Perhaps it attracts the kind of cranks you used to see only in a newspaper’s letters to the editor. I don’t know.
Perhaps it will pass and they’ll remember that social media is a tool; that, in itself, it’s nothing, and the gatekeeper to nothing is nothing; and that social media is, by definition, inferior to the uses to which it is put and the content which it enables.
I imagine I’ll continue to find people who are still more excited by the possibilities of innovation than they are entranced by their own authority; people who think of the service they provide in surveying and analyzing new tools as a contribution to our larger public conversation, instead of as an end in itself or as an avenue to puffery. I imagine I’ll continue to find enough bloggers who don’t confuse traffic with merit (or who get too little of it to make that mistake) and that I’ll always have the information I need to continue to participate in the conversations I think are necessary and valuable in a difficult time.
And perhaps I’ll even learn how to fall quiet myself and restrict my opinions to the written page, where such things are perhaps best kept after all.