We’ve entered a new era ofconspicuous Web consumption, where people are encouraged to demonstrate their social status online by contributing to an increasingly unwieldy number of social media, social networking and location-based services. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact date, but the Web has arguably become a different kind of place than it used to be just a few years ago – a place where attaining and then maintaining social status has become a giant game — a sort of digitalKeeping Up With the Kardashians. What it could mean for the future of the Web is that only those technologies that are capable of perpetuating the social status of the Internet elite will be allowed to prosper and succeed.
Hence, we witness the dance of the lemmings every six months or so, as Internet users fearful of losing their status online rush headlong into the Next Big Thing, eager to add to their social capital. But what does it mean for our digital future when the Internet has become a giant game where the goal is to acquire as many fans and followers as quickly as possible, across as many social platforms as possible? Certainly it speaks to more micro-content — let’s call it nano-content — able to be generated as quickly and effortlessly as possible. Who has time to contribute in any kind of depth to so many platforms? The Facebook “Like” has become theLeast Common Denominator of content, enabling us to remain on the social radar of our peers by doing little more than giving a big “thumbs up” to content we like.