I'm sure there's a college course being offered somewhere about the development and ever-evolving use of social media in this country, but I'm not sure anyone quite has a handle on just what does or doesn't work when it comes to sharing information.
I've complained before about people who post things without regard to their accuracy, but I've noticed, more on Facebook than any other place, that I can categorize most posts (say that three times, really fast) into one of about five different categories, not including that one special category of "Things I'd Actually Want To Read."
A lot of my friends don't express their own thoughts or showcase their own pictures. Instead, they see lots of stuff online that they think needs re-sharing. I'm not against re-sharing as a rule, but I'm coming across far too many status updates that, frankly, qualify as spam.
Category 1: The "I'm playing a game" post. This one has gotten so bad that even Facebook now gives you the option to ignore games that auto-post to your news feed. I adopted a policy long ago that I would not play any game that insisted on posting to my social media accounts. Unless I've been hacked, if you see post from me, I've written it. I'm sure my friends are fascinated by the fact that I'm playing The Simpsons Tapped Out, but I don't want the game telling them to join me. I can do that myself.
Category 2: The "This is where I am" post. You can't be on Facebook for long without seeing one of these. John Doe is with Jane Doe at a restaurant. Nothing else. To be fair, some people make use of this Where's Waldo feature to at least something about the place. My favorite was when my friend, Adam Cravens, noted that Rib City was more like a village than an actual city. Most, though, are simply letting you know that now would be a good time to burglarize their home.
Category 3:The "I support a charitable cause" post. Again, most of these are simply people re-posting something they didn't come up with. And it's not limited to charitable causes, although charities seem to get more shares. For the record, I'm not against the idea that we should find a cure for cancer or that we should take time to think about people who have cancer or any other challenging health issue. I'd just prefer a personal story to a picture that essentially tells me nothing I didn't already know and urges me to "Share this if you agree." Which leads us to ...
Category 4: The "I have a great relative" post. Moms, Dads, brothers, sisters, and cousins. We all have great ones, don't we? My relative is the greatest. In fact, he's so great, I couldn't possibly tell you anything about him, but I can put up this cool meme about that particular type of relative. Isn't it cute? Why don't you re-share?
Category 5: The "I love Jesus" post. This category may get me in trouble, but let me clarify. I actually enjoy reading about the faith experiences of my friends. Sadly, very few of my friends take the time to write about their own faith. Many more of them choose to re-post what comes across as an overly self-righteous meme that basically says, "I'm a Christian and doggone proud of it. If you weren't such a back-sliding, shameful heathen, you'd post this on your wall, too!" If your religious convictions are that strong, stop taking the easy way out. Don't simply share an image. Take the time to actually write down and share what you believe and why. It will have a far greater impact.
One last thing. If you agree with this blog, feel free to share it.