I have a theory about an attribute of social media and I want to bounce it off ppl to see if it seems like A Thing to y'all


people have talked about context collapse before, where your internet presentation isn't able to be segmented into what you'd show church people, employers, peers, family, etc., and it's all just one context

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but of course we know that in practical terms, people don't *use* social media as if the context were absolutely everyone in their lives seeing it. that's why it's always awkward when a Bad Tweet goes viral and it's clear the tweeter was using Twitter to chat within their social network, with a thicker context, where more subtle ironies and such might be expressed.... but actually they were posting publicly also

my theory is that there's something particularly psychologically stressful about having to deal with Schrodinger's Audience: when you put something out there, you have to adopt a tone of humility appropriate to only a few people, maybe your close contacts seeing it... but you also have to communicate as though you might be talking to Absolutely Everyone. and you don't really control which.

tiktok seems really prone to this since 100% of discovery there is algorithmically mediated, but I remember getting the sense of this in tumblr days. you could tell sometimes there'd be something cringey about a response where a person was writing as if they expected to go viral, to have thousands of reactions back them up, but... they were just some kid, you know? and yet, they *might have.*

this seems *different* somehow than the long-feared "but what if my boss sees my weekend partying". that's someone outside the intended audience seeing it. instead it's about... not even clearly intending an audience to communicate to, I guess, because of how stochastic it all feels

I guess the key here is that most of the time, functionally, it *is* only that small circle seeing it... there's just... a slight chance otherwise

@maya related issue is being part of multiple communities with different values/culture and maintaining different modes of interfacing with them. i've tried to segment into using different social media for different contexts and identities.

@exquisitecorp yeah, I think a lot of people get a lot of mileage out of that -- with some pseudonymity, it seems to work pretty well?

@maya this phrase really rings true and i will use it now yeah

@maya For what it is worth, I have found this incredibly stressful to the point that I did not engage in the "social media" at all in the past. I have (obviously) overcome this some, but I still find myself very reticent because of this. Which maybe isn't a bad thing? I mean, for the world. For me? I dunno, but listening is an important skill to practice, and hopefully I have other, healthy social outlets. :)

@maya i definitely feel this, and write differently between public and followers-only posts. there's a sense both that i need to present something worth the time of people who haven't already signed up to hear what i say and also that i need to be careful because there are weirdos out there who can easily give those posts undesired attention

being able to reply to a post in a dm is a fantastic feature to help combat some of this, too

@lm a lot of social media platforms offer locked-down posting options to enforce that it only reaches intended recipients. but people don't use them much. it's interesting to think about how the attention can be... not undesired! some people probably Want To Be Famous, but there's also "I'd like to reach the five people most into this stuff already, not Absolutely Everyone, but I don't know who those five people are so let's make it public"

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Conventicle of the Lesser Occult Institute

The Conventicle of the Lesser Occult Institute