Thursday, 18 April 2013

Viral videos: anecdotes for the illiterate?

Internet Granny

Frank Skinner, who is for my money one of the most naturally funny comedians around, made a very interesting comment on his radio show last Saturday (which I'd recommend catching up with on iTunes).

When talking about viral videos, he referred to them as 'anecdotes for the illiterate' - meaning that simply sharing a video or a picture on a social network is a way that idiots can share something funny without thinking too much about it.

Up to a certain level, I agree with him - you only have to look at the silly posts flying around in the wake of the tragic events in Boston this week, and in countless other events in the past, which I covered in a blog post last week.

But beyond that, I don't. I know that Frank is being flippant, and his disregard for social media is on record, but story-telling in this manner (using pictures) is just a modern way of sharing information and building ties with others.

When we share an interesting video or picture with our friends on social media, we are participating in a practice that goes back millions of years. From caves to campfires, churches to cinemas, Youtube to Vine - we are telling stories to each other, whatever the medium.

It's a clunky metaphor, but when we're sharing videos and pictures online, we're simply daubing our digital caves in paint. The only difference nowadays is that more people have the opportunity to see it.

So share away, and share YOUR way - but do so responsibly. Remember that, to a certain extent, your online identity, your work and your personal, have been inextricably linked like never before in this hyper-connected world we live in.

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