Social media is a great tool to explore the wonders of human nature.
As billions of smartphones, pads and tablets beep or jingle to alert the world to a new message so each owner in a reflex action picks up and responds. It is now so natural to comment, post and message that nobody even thinks about it.
What has amazed me is how liberated our online talk is, far more so than if we were chatting in the pub or over the cooler in the office. We have no qualms at all about saying what we think online, and usually it is the first thing that comes into our heads.
This growing fondness for telling the ether our deepest thoughts and feelings creates a whole new opportunity for cheeky folk like myself to prod and provoke a reaction.
As an experiment in testing this ability of people to bare their souls via a digital device, I started asking some random questions on the online articles platform HubPages where there is an alloporus profile with a few articles.
Rather than the usual “How to” and “What is” type questions, I settled for the “Why do we” type under the tag
Confucius confusions | Do you have any answers to this modern question that would have baffled the wisest sages of old?
The first observation was that this particular online community seems to view questions and then write answers more than they read articles. I received more views of questions in a week that I have for my articles in 6 months. Not surprising though considering the audience is primarily would be writers who like to voice their opinion.
The next thing that struck me was the topics that get people excited. So far the most viewed questions are
Why is elegance so rare?
Why are business suits dark?
The more tax you pay the more money you earn, so why are we obsessed with paying less tax?
Why do we take so many photographs?
These ‘random’ questions with no real bearing on anything seem to fire people up. Many write short essays to get their message across. And maybe this is a good thing. Since it is now far too expensive to go and have a chat in the pub every night, maybe we can get into discussion online.
Not all questions get people going and alloporus will monitor the questions that drift away into the ether without a spark as closely as the ones that get noticed.
So far most questions were asked under the category ‘Religion and Philosophy’ so as to suggest they were thoughtful rather than deliberately controversial. The interesting thing though was how passionate people can be over these random questions. What seems to happen is that answering allows feelings to flow.
So far any overtly environmental questions seem to get only a fraction of the views of the esoteric conundrums and only an occasional answer. This is bad news for this wannabe best-selling author who writes about the travails of the dance between humans and the environment. Clearly the topic is not often on our minds.
More to come on this exploration of human awareness.