Social Media, Online Tribalism VS Localism

Folksonomies: social media locality

Participating in Social Media Surrenders One's Attention

The first thing I noticed was that I suddenly lacked an outlet for the compulsion not to write.1 It wasn’t news to me that I used social media for procrastination purposes, but without it, I found myself lacking an easy source for distractions.

It dawned on me that I’d mostly stopped visiting websites directly and instead had been following the recommendations in my feeds to wherever they might lead me. My reading was no longer deliberate but curated by external forces that may or may not have aligned with my interests. I’d ceded control of my most valuable currency: my attention.


What became acutely obvious when I stopped taking their recommendations was how tribal online discussions can be. So many posts in my feeds were people broadcasting their political or professional identities by expressing outrage or praise for a particular news event or article. It seems to me that these kinds of posts aren’t so much about instigating thoughtful discourse as they are about broadcasting your own tastes or positioning yourself on a team. By opting out, I wasn’t missing thoughtful discussions, I was skipping pep rallies for various factions.


Folksonomies: attention social media tribalism

Additional Support/Evidence

Be Part of Where You Live

What concerns me is how our information networks have enabled us to become hyper-connected to geographically distant communities, while at the same time disconnected from our local ones. Virtual and long-distance relationships can enrich our lives in myriad ways, but I fear that our reliance on them has the potential to erode our physical communities and diminish our sense of place.

Wendell Berry once said that “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” Knowing where you are requires being fully present in your place, and you can’t do that when you’re glued to your Twitter feed 24/7 or jetting around in search of face time with connections outside your local community. People who live in a place without inhabiting it are like vacant houses in a neighborhood. (And if they travel enough, their only presence in their community is their vacant house.)


Folksonomies: social media locality local