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As I scroll through my Facebook timeline, I see a collection of things.  Happy birthday wall posts, status updates from friends at other colleges, pictures of my cats that my mom posted (Really Mom?  Two pictures in one night?).  But the things I see most often on my timeline are shared pictures, videos and articles.  While I don’t mind that these posts are shared, I do think that the person sharing the media should offer an opinion or viewpoint to increase interest in the article.  It gives insight into why someone shared a piece, especially if the share was motivated by a strong emotional reaction.

But why do people choose to share media on Facebook?  An article from The New Yorker by Maria Konnikova discusses why people choose to share media on social platforms.  Konnikova cites Aristotle and his ideas of ethos, pathos, and logos as the main reasons that people choose to share something, with emotion (pathos) being the key factor.

Articles that evoke some emotion did better than those that evoked none.

Just how arousing each emotion was also made a difference.  If an article made readers extremely angry or highly anxious, they became just as likely to share it as they would a feel-good story about a cuddly panda.

With this in mind, I believe it is critical that the person sharing something on social media should preface the article with why they are sharing it or what importance it has.

I think this is very true when it comes to hot topics, specifically politics.  While I don’t think people should vehemently discuss their political views on social media sites, it is bound to happen.  Politics inspire a lot of emotion in people, which leads to articles being shared.  If you are going to share a politically charged article, state why you are sharing or what your stance is (in a civilized manner of course).

If politics are not involved, it is still good practice to do the same commenting.  It is very rare that I share posts or articles on Facebook, but if I do, I believe that commenting on it shows my Facebook friends that I think it is important.  If I give a quick summary and personal connection, my followers have more of a reason to read the article.  Conversely, I am much more likely to read an article or watch a video if the person who shared it prefaced it with why it was relevant and important.  Let’s expect more from ourselves and our Facebook friends and give each other a reason to read that article you shared.

Do you share articles on social media sites?  What is your general view on sharing?  Do you think that prefacing a shared post is a good idea?  Feel free to share this post and comment to your friends about it!

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4 comments

  1. frotastik · October 29, 2015

    I agree with you on the fact that too many people just blindly share media without actually putting their own thoughts and opinions into. My Facebook wall, is filled with pictures and articles that people have re-shared. But why on earth would I care about some article a friend just shared. I would be so much more likely to read an article if that same friend wrote something like, “This article has some incredible views on the political debates”. Whereas, if a friend just wrote, “Trump is the devil”, and shared some article, I would move past that article as fast as I could scroll. I personally have stayed away from sharing too much media while at school, mostly because I just don’t have enough time to. If I post, I want to put some thought into that post. So how quickly do you post? Is it instant, or do you overthink it as much as I do because you are concerned about what others will think?

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  2. sarahesummers2014 · October 29, 2015

    I agree with you that it’s more effective when people preface the things they share on social media. Often friends will post a clip of a debate or a meme about a social issue, and I’m not sure if they’re posting it because they agree or posting it to make fun of it! So I think you bring up an interesting point here that the context of your relationship to the person posting (and what you know about them) influences how/when/if we read things just as much as the content itself. Very thought-provoking post!

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  3. gehrondj · October 29, 2015

    I also overthink most things I post on social media which in most cases that means it doesn’t normally happen. The well formed description with an article and video is a huge thing that I agree everyone should do. Especially with the presidential coming so fast, seemingly. I do wonder why some people do express their beliefs on Facebook so easily. Don’t they understand that rash posts could harm friendships?

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  4. cmorwolves · October 29, 2015

    I completely agree with you that people need to add a reason why they are sharing what they are sharing. When sharing something political your opinion can really matter. You can either agree or disagree with the the shared media, but if you don’t let people know then they will not know how you feel, thus defeating the purpose of sharing it in the first place. I generally don’t share things on social media, but when I do I generally try to give a reason for sharing it. Great observations and blog, thank you.

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