(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)
I was discussing the Facebook security issues (the 2018 ones, if you’re keeping track), with my friend Serdar. Serdar is skeptical of many social media companies much the same way I’m made of carbon. But one of his comments got me thinking when he referred to “a one-armed bandit of gamified social gambling.”
At that point suddenly, a few things came together for me about social media problems and how they’re the same as another technological problem we’re currently fighting.
Social Media As Gambling
Yes we use social media to keep track of friends, schedule events, etc. But buried within far too much social media interaction is the attempt to get a payoff. We want a story to go viral. We want to reach a new audience. We want to see some new meme.
Thus we keep pulling the lever. Or reloading. Or posting. We might not calculate the cost/benefit because it’s fun, because it’s social – and because it is a lot like gambling.
Trust me, I’ve been here with everything from attempting to market my books
That’s when I realized it. Know what Social Media has become for too many of us.
Yeah. I went there. I just compared a lot of social media usage to one of the most controversial and hated things in gaming – and *I* have PAID for Overwatch Loot Boxes. Don’t get me started on my TF2 days.
But yes, too much social media has become loot boxes:
- Repeated usage.
- Hoping for a payoff.
- That is of limited value.
- Or very unlikely.
- And we’re compelled by chance and social pressure.
I’m still processing this realization. It’s rare I have thoughts that completely grind other thoughts to a halt, and as I write this (late the 21st) I’ve not grappled with it.
I do see one way forward though. Much as gambling isn’t reliable (if fun), we need to treat our social media and time as something more reliable – an investment. Sure some gambling is fun, but ask ourselves what risk and reward are, what the long-term benefits are, what the returns (not payoff) is.
Think about social media that way. Invest over gamble.