Social Media: The new AOL of 21st century

Tieman Ray writing for ZDNet:

Most people didn’t mind that the services were limited and didn’t change. People were just excited to be in a place called Cyberspace. Suddenly, they could send a message to someone in a different town, even a different country, even people that they had never met. People could also adopt a secret identity, such as “picklefinger0237,” and the anonymity made interacting even more exciting.
As it grew and grew, the World Wide Web became an amazing place in contrast to AOL. People found they could visit articles and whole magazines written by people they’d never met, even from around the world. And there was a constant stream of innovation, with lots of software appearing all the time that made “surfing” the Web amazing. 

This was a little throwback to history, even before Google or semantic web had come into parlance. It is what the first world will call “wild-wild west”. It was without hierarchies and without structure. Yahoo made a fortune trying to index the complete web until Google upended its business completely. Yahoo is a footnote in history now.

Social media is the new AOL- restrictive and without giving any benefits. I am surprised people get excited about artificial (and virtual) likes. Retweets/ quote tweets and now even paid tweets – they are entrenching themselves into a system owned by someone else completely. Your social graph is more valuable to them than you realise. Advertising is underpinning these efforts, but this digital cocaine is usurping families and relationships completely. Thats why I am surprised that social networks are being refashioned for “serious interactions”.

The services didn’t seem to do a great job of handling people’s information, either. Even though they wouldn’t let people talk to just anyone they wanted, Facebook and the other services went and sold people’s information to people they didn’t know in far-away countries. And everywhere a person would go on the Internet, Facebook and its competitors would let advertisers keep following them, keeping track of them, which people had never counted on when they joined up.

Twitter too.

The reason they were screaming was because the data voodoo dolls and the other algorithmic tools weren’t really bringing people together, they were encouraging repetitive patterns of behavior, like getting people mad by constantly displaying the most inflammatory things people said about anything and everything. It was all for the purpose of sorting people’s behavior into convenient buckets as a way to communicate a clear buying signal to help advertisers

I envisage its time people discover blogging/organic ways of building networks and relationships.