Be nice or leave: a guide to being social when all media is social

Faris Yakob

Let's start with the problem of naming. Last year, it was web 2.0. Before that, consumer-generated content. Now it is social media. This is problematic.

Media is inherently social – not just in the obvious sense that it is a conduit for ideas between people, but also because media products have a tendency to function as solidarity goods. This is a class of economic goods that become more valuable the more they are consumed.

When we hear the word 'media', it has a diminished meaning that triggers a set of associations and behaviours. We think of 'something that I can buy space in to place ads', which isn't how social media works at all. The term I prefer is the 'radical decentralisation of the economics of cultural production' – but I don't think it will catch on.