Monday, June 25, 2012

Should We Be Social Readers?

One of the things I've been watching and thinking about for a while is "Social Reading."

On the one hand -- I really enjoy the collaboration of curating that comes from social media. A lot of my FB friends come from my other hat -- as a published poet -- and very often I feel like all the best poets of our generation are culling through the NYTimes just for me! I'm interested in what people I'm interested in are interested in!

Lately though, this is turning up a notch. With social reader sites from most major newspapers connected to FB, I have been taking some times to process what the outcome of social media will be.

I see problems both from the outlet and from the consumer side.

From news outlets, I am concerned that this type of popularity contest is likely to further degrade news judgement -- to suggest that the things that go viral are desirable -- furthering the trend of editing to mass appeal rather than to editorial import.

But really, I've been thinking about this from a personal perspective. While I am interested in what people are reading, I also am concerned at my own judgement of what they read.

And also, as a logical leap, worry about who is going to see what I read...

At some point in high school I decided I needed to stop reading trash and start making my way through some sort of fiction cannon that my artsy private school somewhat avoided... I felt like it was my job to read those things, and I was proud of it.

Now I read the Times and The New Yorker -- I'm happy to have people notice how much I read about the wars -- about poetry -- mostly I read about the media...

But I have a horrible soft spot for crime drama. Once in while I read a pop culture article to see what people are really reading and writing about. Sometimes I'm really tired and feel like reading Oprah's latest positive affirmations... Sometimes I read things I have no intention of telling you what they are.

It's not just big brother or your mother -- it's your friends, your children, your co-workers.

Won't image trump curiosity?
I know there have been things I have not read in order to not be seen reading them...

And then I think about the kids.
We are interested in what they are sharing -- but will we remember to be interested in what they prevent each other from sharing?

When they get to the place where their social and their educational and their personal preferences/choices/leanings are all public, how will they be able to explore?

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