Sharing, not caring: Why we can’t bothered reading what we share online

A recent study shows 60% of articles we are sharing we aren’t even reading. Is the root cause our propensity to gossip and need to be heard?

 

 

I think the world has an addiction. Well…one more addiction. Sharing.

Whether it’s news about the latest space event that will destroy us all, an outrageous status about a political situation or a video of someone dumping ice or rocks or whatever on themselves, we’re absolutely mad for it, and we want everyone else to see it.

In fact, sharing has become such a big part of a culture that news articles now often focus on the virality of a video or image, rather than the content it contains.

I randomly Googled and found this article.

By the fourth paragraph, the article states that the video “Now has over 1000 shares and 34 000 views”. That gets mentioned before the writer chooses to actually go through and explain what happens in the video from the beginning. They have literally decided that the number of shares and views is more newsworthy.

Maybe society in general has always had the itch to share information, but before the digital age, we could only share with as many people as we could verbally communicate. Now, however, we have buttons that allow us to immediately re-present this information to hundreds of people, and we can do it so fast that we often don’t even check the information we are sharing.

 

Facebook had to create an algorithm that would group together multiple posts, from multiple people, about the same thing, lest our feeds requiring us to endlessly scroll through the same thing over and over again.

 

The Washington Post reported that a study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute found that 59 percent of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked. We can’t even help ourselves. We see a headline and immediately need to share it so much that we don’t even verify the information.

Honestly, there seems to be this need to share that almost goes beyond self-satisfaction. In my work in media, we often give away prizes by getting people to “like and share” a post for a chance to win. These posts always do well, but their reach and engagement is nothing compared to that achieved by the right news post or hilarious video.

We have become such voracious sharers that Facebook had to create an algorithm that would group together multiple posts, from multiple people, about the same thing, lest our feeds requiring us to endlessly scroll through the same thing over and over again.

Maybe it’s the same instinct that comes with gossiping, maybe it’s something new that has developed with digital technologies. All I know is, we need to share, regardless of accuracy of information and often without any real reward.

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