Everyone has heard the saying and seen the cartoon where you don’t know who your being social with on the Internet, it could be the family dog.
This has been true since the original threaded chats on the Internet started. People will change who they are in the physical world to explore a different life path on the Internet. There are some folks doing it to do harm to others, some are hiding from family/friends and others can do it quite by accident. The accidental misrepresentation is just someone who is posting without realizing how others are viewing their comments, reaching a different conclusion around who they are dealing with than reality.
The new social solutions available to share for fun or profit include a lot more possibilities than just text. People share their words, images, videos, links to other people’s words and so on… new options come out all the time. Someone has to make a pretty strong effort, or not post anything but text, to ‘be someone else’ online. On most the big name sharing systems, it is easy enough to check out tagging on an image to see if it really taken by the author or at least where they claim it to be. While not many socialites will take the time to do this extra step, the information is there to see if the image was true to the provider or one grabbed from somewhere else.
For the sharing crowd that is just having fun, the options bring many people from all corners of the world to exchange thoughts and experiences.
A common thread across all of the well known social sites is they allow people to follow or track your posts. There is a variety of ‘allowing’, ‘blocking’, and ‘limiting’ made available to provide some level of controls over who a person’s friends are online. If the step to hide this information isn’t turned on, other Internet users are able to see how many people are following or being followed by each member of the system.
These numbers can be very small and well managed to just what a user is able to view and respond to. All the way up to huge qualities of people who follow everyone. A post submitted into a crowd of those big number groups have a very low chance of being seen/read. It also results in people sharing the same link over and over again since it is impossible to watch all of the activity across thousands or even millions of viewers. The desire to have the following/viewing quantity being very high drives a different face users have on social sites. The normal is becoming the desire to post things that everyone will like.
Other than a couple specialized social networks, the quantity over quality game is played on all of the major services. I call it a ‘game’ since following more than a person can possibly view posts from is a way to get more followers in return. Some do it for their marketing ideas, others think of the followers as ‘friends’. Everyone would love to have friends everywhere around the world, but can any of those friends actually quote anything you said?
Many people feel that anything over a couple hundred of Social friends are too many to follow. A couple exceptions to this is following a lot of people that only post once a week… not very social are they? Then, there are folks like my niece that has over 500 friends, because she follows all the folks in her High School graduating class. You have to believe she chooses which posts she pays attention to, changing from day to day depending on what the happening event of the day is.
Enter, my ‘friend’. He has traveled the many places I have which he took pictures of and shared on Instagram. He commented on my pictures and responds when I comment on his. He even has a Laberdoodle with the same name as our Bichon. His name? No clue. As quickly as the friendship started, it ended. He decided he didn’t like the crowds that followed that where following so many other people. The comments that included a request to follow them. I don’t share the path he took or removing his images and account. Maybe he will return and look me up, would like to have my friend back, whoever he may be. Guess our families and dogs may never meet in person… why should I expect differently, it’s a virtual social world.