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Why we don’t filter ourselves very well

February 24, 2009

We’re not that good at filtering ourselves. The unprecedented ability to share everything leads to situations like that PR guy from Atlanta who Twittered about the home town of FedEx, and got into trouble. He didn’t filter himself.

And I’m sure that other people, on smaller less famous scales, have run into a problem whereby they’ve given up too much information in a blog post, tweet, Facebook image, comment, etc.

So what gives? Is it simply the ability to share?

Does it have something to do with the lack of filters?

When I use the word filter, I mean media filters. The filters that used to help people consume media. Think about it: in the morning we used to wake up and read a national and/or local paper that had the filtered news of the day. I don’t mean bias to the left or right, I mean professionally filtered news that was chosen for us. An Editor picked the stories that would be covered, then an editor picked the order they would be presented.

We knew that Front page above the fold was important in the same way we knew that the first story on the evening newscast was important. We were told what was news.

Now, we can let unfiltered news fill our RSS feed. This blog is an example. No one told me what to write about. This is all me, to you. Unfiltered.

The only filter is you

And the lack of filters doesn’t just apply to news. Entertainment obviously applies. I can watch an episode of Lost on, followed by an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati on Hulu. Then, I can watch something on YouTube that isn’t even professional produced.

Filters are gone. And with them comes potential to do anything. But the question is, if you’re a certain age, and you grew up consuming filtered content, did we learn to use our own filters?

As social media tools explode, so does our ability to consumer anything. As we consume, and see other people uploading their embarrassing pictures online, does that make it seem fine? People shared their 25 things about me on Facebook with regularity.

Now that we can consume everything, this seems like a good quid quo pro.

This might be a reach, so I’ll throw it out to you, the reader. Why are willing to share so much about us?

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