Herd mentality, social media, and digital stampedes

by / Saturday, 05 June 2010 / Published in Uncategorized

Remember playing the game where you’d whisper something into someone’s ear, they’d whisper in another ear, and this would repeat until the comment had been passed across the room? Remember how much the statement would change? Context, content, semantics, emphasis…

I’m reminded of that little social experiment each time a topic blows up and gains traction in social media circles. Everyone repeats the message, often with minor adjustments that seem unimportant at the time. It’s natural to add a bit of information to a message as it’s passed along as well. So new ‘facts’ and opinions are suddenly mingled with ‘facts’ that weren’t necessarily checked for initial validity.

As the stories change, and others repost content that they see, new versions of facts gain validity because of the trustworthiness of the person sharing the content. 

Before joining the digital stampede, read the links on the messages you repost. You’re attaching your own name and reputation to the data trail.