Has concern with popularity peaked?

After reading that some teens are dropping off of Instagram and other social networks and are using Apple’s AirDrop I asked my thirteen year old granddaughter about this. She’s done the same: she’s dumped Instagram and all social networking sites where she was extremely popular and is now just using AirDrop with her closest friends.

Tapping concern with popularity is a piece of almost all social software: Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, WordPress and all of the rest of the connected content management systems have lots of social tools that aren’t necessarily essential for there use, but seem to exhibit an assumption on the part of the designers that we’ll want to use them to increase our popularity.

I first started chewing on this in 2007 when I commented on the effect Flickr Explore was having on photographers that I followed there.

My biggest concern with Explore is that many Flickr users change the way they take and then process pictures on their computers in order to become more popular.

The New Yorker has a fascinating profile by Andrew Marantz on Emerson Spartz who is an expert on how to make web sites and memes go viral: The Virologist.

The way we view the world, the ultimate barometer of quality is: if it gets shared, it’s quality. If someone wants to toil in obscurity, if that makes them happy, that’s fine. Not everybody has to change the world.

I’ve never been able to fully explain why I think concern with popularity on the internet is a problem but reading this piece gave me a bit more to chew on. I still can’t explain it fully but I’m closing in on it.

I’m pretty sure that concern with popularity is part of human nature, but I’m also seeing the effect of 24/7 connectedness enabling that concern to the point where it gets in the way of creative work, and for some, life in general.

Has (over) concern with popularity peaked? Probably not, but here’s hoping it will soon.