Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bloggers Are More Opinionated Than FaceBook Users? They Have To Be!

As reinforced once more, we learn that those who use Facebook and Twitter are of a different species from those of us who blog. The latest research discloses they're "much less opinionated" - to which I respond,  'DUH!" Of course they are! Facebook as well as Twitter are venues for social schmoozing and sharing slices of life,  not providing political opinions that can be polarizing:  upsetting your virtual or real friends, as well as family. So people using Facebook would naturally tend to keep opinions to themselves as opposed to publicizing them,

Now a Pew Research Report released Tuesday validates this. The Report found that those who use Facebook and other social media sites are much less likely to share personal opinions, even offline. These findings run counter to how many view social media - which is basically as a bunch of self-opinionated, solipsistic blabbermouths. In truth, they are more likely to blab about minor social engagements, parties they went to or special trips - while posting photos and jokes  - as opposed to giving negative reviews of Obama or Obamacare or discussing Ferguson or Snowden..

In a specific case, to do with NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden, 1,800 social media users were asked their opinions.  Researchers noted a "spiral of silence" to do with any opinions - meaning the FB and Twitter users were more likely to "clam up", as well as shy away from going near any hot button issues. This in total contradistinction to those of us who blog and believe our mandate is to inform about critical issues - including government mass surveillance, fracking ravages and climate change - and not keep silent.

Those of us who blog then are born with opinions and let's face it, to blog you HAVE to be opinionated! If you don't have opinions about any and every thing then you will likely be a dead end blogger running out of ideas after ten posts. Also, a boring one at that - mainly posting accounts of the last turtle race you observed on a beach or another kitty - doggie boxing match.  All stuff that could easily go on FB.

The bottom line? For those who use Facebook and Twitter, there is a much greater social  comfort level with "ice bucket" challenges than political banter and exchanges. Which suits those of us who blog just fine, because the person who wants some spice with his or her information will seek out our virtual spaces rather than FB or Twitter. They will then see our (often) singular opinions about one issue or another and in addition, see how we reason our justifications, say on why we don't find the "ice bucket challenge" all that cool.

Another Pew finding: The typical Facebook user - say who logs onto the site a few times a day -  is half as likely to discuss Snowden's leaks as a non-FB user.  Twitter users, those who cut their communications to 140 characters or less, are one fourth as likely to discuss Snowden. In a way this ought to be obvious given that any dummy can see the space allotted to discuss topics at length - in FB or Twitter - is much reduced from what a blog provides - which is why we opinionated types don't use FB or Twitter to offer our takes.  Those who do use them are "hesitant to speak up for fear of starting an argument or losing a friend."  And they ought to be, because it's not the right venue!

One  communications professor, Keith Hampton, has this take:

"A society where people aren't able to share their opinions openly and gain from understanding alternative perspectives is a polarized society."

Maybe, prof, but there are also right and wrong venues to share those opinions, and maybe the FB and Twitter users get it. If they really want to share they can BLOG!

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