I Shared This Article But I Never Read It

"It's true. I didn't read this. I didn't even bother to read the title before I shared it. In fact, you've already read more of the article than I ever will. That's because many Twitter retweets are done digitally through robots.  Or maybe a service found the phrase "social media" and it "Liked" it under my Facebook profile. I wonder if the author named the article what he did to prove a point?"

He did. 

Last week, I was checking statistics to see who had retweeted my last article on wanting social media to be less narcissistic. (The irony of that last statement is not lost on me, but I digress.) The great thing about Facebook, Twitter and other social networks is that nearly everything can be tracked and traced. I was pleased to see marketers, other business professionals, as well as plain ol' regular folks, had liked the article enough to share it with others. 

But as I continued perusing the list, I spotted a ton of phony accounts, most of which feature head shots of who looked to be aspiring adult models. These fake profiles are manufactured, then in turn used by services that offer to increase the followers of legitimate Twitter accounts for a price. It's just another scam the Internet has become so adept at creating. In short, these accounts are not owned or managed by the painted faces we see. I presume most of the models are unaware that their image is being used for such purpose or wouldn't know the Twitter bird if it perched on their Facebook. Or care for that matter. 

Though less certain, I suspect there were real people who haven't read this article but still decided to share it. We've all done it -- heck I'll reluctantly admit that I've done it myself like  others charged with this task by their employer. Ironically, sometimes those who cull the online content to share with readers have just read the headline. Or as this article implies, sometimes not even that much. Blame in part the pressures social media has put upon business fearing silence. The quest to create and/or find relevant, engaging material to promote and sell through social media has simply reached epidemic levels.

So the larger problem is that the world has become sharing happy, posting now without purpose. We've created the panicked poster who has no time to read; the shiftless sharer drumming up a following through black-hat methods, and the shallow opportunist with no better idea on how to create self worth. It's the new junk mail but no one's invented a good spam filter yet. I say let consumers continue as they wish, but smart businesses need to adhere to some basics:

  • Posting content should not be about forwards, views, statistics, or especially about the fear of remaining silent. 
  • It's called "sharing" for a reason. Post ideas and information you genuinely believe of interest to others.
  • If there's nothing interesting to share now, wait until there is, or create your own content regardless of how brief. 

If we can collectively contain our urge to forward and tweet everything, and share only the information we find truly valuable, we might have the time to actually read and benefit from it. So what are you to do it you actually did read this article before you retweeted or "liked it" and want to share the information and opinions? Include #justkidding in your tweet, and everyone will know you did.


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