In search of meaningful communications

Published 3:14 pm Monday, September 17, 2018

There are some interesting facts to be found in a new Pew Research Center survey about Facebook.

The survey results were released this month. It shows a lot of people who use Facebook are taking a second look at how they do so. More than half say they have adjusted their privacy settings in the last year. More than 40 percent have taken a break from checking the platform for several weeks or more. About 25 percent said they deleted the Facebook app from their cellphone, according to the Pew Research Center website.

We’ve written about this issue before but we think it is an important one — when it comes to media, things feel, to us, like they are changing yet again, and this is particularly true about social media.

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We know media changes all the time. There is a new technology, a new website, a new gadget, a new app. It is a part of our lives that morphs constantly, driven mostly by advances in technology. It is a dizzying task to try to keep up with it all. What is dominant today will likely not be dominant in the future. But the changes in how people are viewing and using Facebook seem to be more than just a short-lived trend to us.

The survey findings listed above highlight a scientific approach to gathering peoples’ opinions. This scientific approach demonstrates people are more wary of social media platforms like Facebook, and it also shows a significant chunk of people are using it less. We also have our own observations that are, admittedly, very unscientific, so take it for what it’s worth, but our thoughts are:

— People are beyond fatigued by the caustic, often politically divisive content on social media, with the heart of it found on Facebook. American politics are now so exhausting given our stark divides. To go on social media and to be preached to by someone you might see once a year in person about why and how your views are right or wrong is only making it worse. We are sick of it and we suspect pretty much everyone else is too. We think this is a major reason why people are taking a break.

— The privacy violations are alarming. When you combine the political fatigue with concerns about privacy, Facebook is facing a double whammy.

— People are starving for thoughtful, meaningful, local content like what you find in the local paper or on the local news. What you find in Facebook posts, however, when it comes to local information are rants, half truths or in the worst case scenario falsehoods. Consumers are smart. They are fatigued on this front as well and turning away from social media because of this.

There are ebbs and tides in everything. Politics. Societal trends. Media. We would like to think that, just perhaps, society is moving back to more meaningful, respectful communications. We believe that those turning away from social media are doing so for this very reason.

The Daily Independent of Ashland