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Digg Life: How Social Media Will Change the World

Digg Life: How Social Media Will Change the World
News

    With a very simple concept, Digg.com has changed the fundamental nature of the news media and how millions of people access information. Digg (and its fellow social media sites) democratized the media, and wrenched control of what gets read from the gatekeepers of print and broadcast corporations and gave it to the people. Now, argue about whether this is good or bad, but it’s now a fact of life.

    And someday soon this concept will spread to just about every area of our lives, from politics to entertainment to business to … you name it.

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    Get ready for the democratization of everything, like it or not.

    What Digg Did

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    Digg

      Before we can see how the concept of social media will spread to other areas of life, let’s take a look at what has happened, and why it’s so important.

      In the days before Digg and friends, how did we access news? Through newspapers, magazines, radio and television. And who decided what news there was to access? Editors, and their bosses, publishers and corporations. To some extent — the extent that we still access new through traditional media — this still happens. A small few controls the gates of information to the masses.

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      But then social media came along, just within the last few years, and the gates broke open. Now, the traditional media still covers the news … but now many, many people don’t read or watch the stories through the traditional media outlets. They go to Digg, and see what’s hot. If there’s a story that sounds interesting, we click on the link and read or watch it.

      And who decides what’s hot? The masses. And what’s more, it’s no longer the traditional media stories that are hot. Everyday writers, the bloggers and You Tube masters of the world, can be just as popular as the Dan Rathers and Tom Brokaws. Getting information to the masses depends on how good you are, not who you know.

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      Digg story

        How Our Lives Will Become Dugg
        Corporate media is not the only area of life where a small few control the gates of information for the masses — it happens everywhere. The powerful concept of social media will break open those gates — maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually. It’s inevitable, as once someone decides to offer a Digg-like site for other areas of life, people will undoubtedly want to be in control of their information, and would never give it back to the gatekeepers.

        What areas of life will be affected? Here are just a few examples:

        • Music: Controlled right now by corporate production companies and distributors, and fed to us by radio stations and music television (MTV, et. al.), music is already becoming freer through peer-to-peer networks. Though the legal battles will continue for years, because of the huge amount of money involved, it is impossible to catch and prosecute every person who downloads music. The business structure of the music industry is already changing, and will eventually change completely. But who will decide what music is popular? The masses, through a Digg-like social interface. And it will be open to all musicians, not just ones with record deals.
        • Movies: Also controlled by corporate production and distribution systems, movies are already becoming socialized through sites like You Tube. Soon DVDs will become obsolete as entire movies become distributed through You Tube-like sites, and the popularity of movies becomes Digg-like. And as more filmmakers turn to self-publishing on the Internet, just as writers do on blogs, it will no longer require a production and distribution company will millions of dollars to make a successful film.
        • TV shows: Same as movies.
        • Politics: But our government is already democratized, right? Sure. We elect officials every two or four years, but who votes on each individual proposal? The gatekeepers. A Digg.gov site will allow the masses to decide on issues, rather than having politicians do it for us. And those who are afraid of the masses deciding on issues are not truly in favor of a democratic government.
        • Marketplace: Who controls what clothes are available to us? Clothing companies and department stores. Social media can change that — imagine a digital marketplace where you can go to see what clothes are hot. What about cars? Restaurants? Gadgets? Books? As you can probably tell, these things are already starting to happen with sites like Amazon and eBay.
        • Work: Who controls what work we do and how we get paid? Traditionally, the corporations and managers — the gatekeepers of decisions and money and information. But what if your work was run by a Digg-like site? Where business decisions, project decisions, pay and benefits and workplace environment decisions, were all made by the masses of the company? That’s hard to imagine in traditional companies. But consider that these days, many people are working remotely, as free-lancers or consultant or telecommuters. If work becomes less centralized, and more spread out and free (as in free-lance, not free beer), why does a central person or group of people need to control all decisions? If a group of free-lancers begins to democratize their work, this idea could have much more appeal than the traditional corporate structure … and once people have their work under their own control, they are less likely to want to go back under the control of the gatekeepers.

        These changes, again, won’t happen overnight. But the winds of change are already obviously blowing in this direction, and once people get a taste of freedom, they aren’t likely to want to stay under the control of a few.

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        Leo Babauta

        Founder of Zen Habits and expert in habits building and goals achieving.

        The Gentle Art of Saying No How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life Simple Productivity: 10 Ways to Do More by Focusing on the Essentials How to Pare Your To-do List Down to the Essentials A Guide to Becoming a Better Writer: 15 Practical Tips

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        Last Updated on July 17, 2019

        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

        What happens in our heads when we set goals?

        Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

        Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

        According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

        Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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        Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

        Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

        The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

        Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

        So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

        Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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        One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

        Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

        Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

        The Neurology of Ownership

        Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

        In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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        But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

        This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

        Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

        The Upshot for Goal-Setters

        So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

        On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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        It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

        On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

        But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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        Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

        Reference

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