#Tell Everyone: Why We Share & Why It Matters (A Context Book Review)

The world has become highly impacted by social media and the internet. Teenagers are joining Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms so they can share what happens in their daily lives. Why do they feel the need to share this information with certain people? Is social media the best way to share the news?

Communication around the world has been facilitated because of the increase in social media platforms over the last ten years. More people are browsing the world wide web and this provides bloggers, social media influencers, and regular individuals a chance to increase their followers and influence. In #Tell Everyone: Why We Share & Why It Matters (2014), Alfred Hermida examines how social media, specifically Twitter, has helped people in a wide variety of ways including during catastrophes. He writes about why we as humans have the urge to share information, why negative news tends to be shared more than positive news, and how consumerism can affect companies in both positive and negative ways.

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Information is endless and will continue to grow as long as there is a need or want for it. Hermida’s examination on how Twitter has saved countless lives in many disaster scenarios can be pointed back to libraries. When we need information, we sometimes check the library, and more often than not, we visit Facebook and Twitter, scroll through posts our friends have shared and perhaps read something that we find interesting. We then proceed to comment on, like or dislike the post, and the cycle continues. If we find something at the library that catches our eye, we would most likely read it and pass it on to our networks as a ‘recommended book’; something they have to read. But why do we feel a need to share the information we find? Hermida (2014) puts it simply, “We can’t help it. We are made to be social (pp.30).” 

Technology has become a key part in everyone’s life in one way or another. The first thing most of us do in the morning is check our email, scroll through the latest news stories on social media or through an online or virtual newspaper, then get to our workplace so we can use similar technology to get work done. Hermida (2014) states, “…people use social media services and technologies to create, share and comment on the news (pp.81).” We may take technology for granted but what we sometimes forget is that news can now be published in the blink of an eye compared to the year 1450 when the Gutenberg Press was released commercially. Thanks to technology and social media, I can converse with my cousin who lives in Greece without having to worry about time zones, and you may not have to worry about if your friend got your message because they will be notified through their application of choice.

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Libraries and technology are two areas that make up the Hyperlinked Library, which is a participatory institution that welcomes user input and creativity. In this case, Twitter is the technology that Hermida is examining along with how we use it. It’s no mystery that all social media platforms encourage creativity. Take a look at Twitter as well as Pinterest, Tik Tok, Instagram, Snapchat, and the infamous Vine. Each application encourages users to be themselves. Social media not only allows us to express ourselves, but it encourages us to take action for those who are in need. Hermida (2014) also writes about the 2011 Japan earthquake and how citizens used social media to reach out to their families and check that they were safe. Architect Toyo Ito remembers that day and recalled how local officials opened up a local library “because it functions as a kind of cultural refuge in the city… Most people who use the building are not going there just to read a book or watch a film; many of them probably do not have any definite purpose at all. They go just to be part of the community in the building (Toyo Ito, 2013, as cited in Mattern, 2014).”  

So why is it that we feel the need to share information with certain people? I believe sharing is a way to help others. We all feel great when we share something because we are passing along a message to someone who it may not have reached. We share information because we feel the stories are important. If all this is true, does that mean social media is the best way to share the news? As technology changes the way we live our lives, sharing information through the internet will keep getting quicker and fact checking from multiple sources will be spontaneous. Social media in many ways has already become the quickest way to share news.  

References:

Hermida, A. (2014). #tell everyone: Why we share and why it matters. Toronto: Doubleday Canada.

Mattern, S. (2014, June 01). Library as Infrastructure. Retrieved September 12, 2020, from https://placesjournal.org/article/library-as-infrastructure/?cn-reloaded=1

Rose, J. (2013, September 01). Toyo Ito interviewed by Julian Rose. Retrieved September 12, 2020, from https://www.artforum.com/print/201307/toyo-ito-interviewed-by-julian-rose-42634

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6 thoughts on “#Tell Everyone: Why We Share & Why It Matters (A Context Book Review)

  1. Kay Wolverton Ito says:

    I agree, @stratxan23, that social media platforms encourage creativity, which is part of their appeal to many users. More than creativity platforms, though, I see social media as curation platforms; applications encourage users to >curate< themselves more than to simply "be" themselves, for better or worse.

  2. Jennie Tobler-Gaston says:

    @stratxan23 I think your post bring up some great points. It touches on meeting patrons where they are at and that is on social media. I think libraries need to explore ways to become more interactive with patrons and allow patrons to be more participatory with the library through social media.

  3. Ye Zhai says:

    Hi @stratxan23, it seems the books we read for the book review share a same topic. I read Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. He mainly focused on the six principles (“STEPPS”) of social transmission and explained why people are driven to share certain information with others. I believe both Berger and Hermida’s ideas are of great value to information professionals especially in the context of participatory service where we want to involve users when revamping our service models.

    • Stratos Xanthus says:

      Hi @yezhai2020, I also read that book recently. I loved every bit of it. Yes, Berger and Hermida’s ideas about why people naturally share are extremely similar and that made this book ten times better!

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