I have never been a dog lover. In fact, up until about six months ago I downright loathed them. Before you write me off as un-American, you should know that I was the unfortunate witness to the mauling of my pet duck, Daffy, at the hands of a german shepherd as a kid. (It turns out that Daffy lived, but he had to “go away.” We never saw him again.)
It took many years for me to break my prejudice against all canines, mostly through repeated exposure to my best friend’s 180 lb. great dane. It also happens that the vast majority of humans seem to love dogs, so I really had no choice but to grudgingly accept them as a necessary, albeit unfortunate, part of my existence.
Two years ago I met Sophie, my friend’s miniature schnauzer. She does not like anyone, yet somehow she decided I was worthy of her affections. I am not really an animal person in general, and it seems to me that animals can sense this in humans, and it makes them want to swarm those humans they perceive not to be fans. For example, me.
So what on earth does any of this have to do with social media? I am undertaking the task of dog-sitting Sophie for several months, and the whole thing is a learning experience. Thankfully, one can consult Youtube when one has no idea of how to give a dog a bath.
While Andrew Keen may think that, “the convicts [are] running the asylum,” also quoted by Andrea in another post, the content created by amateurs and posted to social networking sites can be invaluable for a vast and varied audience. The challenge for users is in sifting through the useless or irrelevant content to find the information needed. Although ever-shifting privacy policies by the likes of Google and others do pose challenges, metrics that affect searches for topics relevant to the individual will be helpful in many ways.
Because this targeted searching may, and very likely will, limit the variety of information received by an individual, the impetus is then placed on that individual to recognize when they are receiving one-sided information. To achieve this end, media literacy must be increased in the individual user. The questions is, how do we do this?