Living Life in the Fast Lane

We have discussed a lot in class about how to make media go viral and why people would want to share content. What we haven’t talked about much is how long popular media “lives” on the web. Knowing that media doesn’t last long on the online “hot seat” is probably common, but why doesn’t it and what does this mean for us as Internet users? As for what it means for Internet users, I think you could easily guess that we all have short attention spans and don’t care to wait on anything. Just take a look at the picture above. On the right image, there is even a side note that states that Twitter is a popular site for breaking news and for quick attention spans. The median lifespan on articles for both Facebook and Twitter is astonishing. The average lifespan isn’t even close to a week! One blog dives into particular detail about the longevity of the life of media on the web. Aside from the possibility that we as humans have drastically lost our ability to pay attention, Internet fame is extremely short lived.

Now to the real concern, why is it that media, even if it hits the Internet by storm and has everyone talking about it, die off so quickly? Of course, this issue ties back into the idea that we as humans have a short attention span on the web. It’s almost like we have a thirst when we go on the Internet that can’t be quenched so we continue looking for water, or more media in this case, anywhere we can. But why would every popular piece of media on the web look like a nice big drink to quench your thirst? Well, mostly because its passed all those special requirements to become viral. Some of those requirements include emotion and arousal. Maria Konnikova states in one of her articles, “Just how arousing each emotion was also made a difference. If an article made readers extremely angry or highly anxious—stories about a political scandal or new risk factor for cancer, for example—they became just as likely to share it as they would a feel-good story about a cuddly panda.” Viral media, as we now know is engineered to be popular and encourage viewers to share, but it seems people get quickly bored and throw out what they’ve seen for the next latest and greatest thing. One could argue that there is a direct connection to the more shares something gets the more likely it is to die off quicker. For example, all viral media has a social currency associated with it that makes it “cool”. When it’s been shared across the masses it losses its “cool” value and dies off. Facebook and other tech companies alike have similarly lost their “cool” value because its no longer exclusive. So where can we all make a stance on this issue of media living in the fast lane? I personally think, that business and the public, in order to keep up with the times need to embrace the swiftness of the web. Sure you’ve created something that was hilarious today, but what about tomorrow? We are in the age of information and it moves faster than any of us every could have imagined. So I think it’s only right to move with the times and not worry about how quickly something popular may die off on the web. The statistics are in and show that nothing stays on the minds of the users these days, mostly not even for a week. So what do you think, should we slow down and is it even possible to?

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5 thoughts on “Living Life in the Fast Lane

  1. It is actually surprising that the life spans are that short. I only scroll through my news feed once or twice a week and it seems like every time I do it, I end up looking at the same shared media. I do agree that the web is a very fast moving place and that there is really no way to slow it down. The only way to stay in the loop is to hop on the bullet train and accept that you will be flooded with media.

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  2. I agree with you that things such as a twitter post or a blog only stay online and viral for a short amount of time, but I think that differs with videos and things such as pictures for Memes. This things keep reappearing over long amounts of time so I feel that they do not follow the same statistic of only one week. As for dealing with posts, I feel that it is not possible for people to slow down for them. I believe the pace will stay were it is or get faster. I cannot think of a way to make it that people would want to slow down for them.

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  3. It is interesting to make the connection between length of content popularity or “online-life” with the attention spans of our current, Millennial generation. The internet has allowed us to condense and spread information faster than ever before and with this we lose our ability to research and read lengthy material.
    While tracking the popularity of my trending hashtag for our analysis, I noticed this trend as well. The popularity over time started to decrease and as more people knew about it and talked about, more people decided it had lost its “cool factor”, a key component in the spreadability of content.

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