Today I’m going to write about the mundane. I realise that sounds like a rather odd thing to say at the start of my blog post… especially when I am trying to inspire you to spend some of your time reading it! However, the mundane is everywhere on the web… people share mundane content all the time and it got me wondering why?
mundane [ˈmʌndeɪn mʌnˈdeɪn]adj
We’ve all seen mundane content on social media, e.g., the facebook status “just made a cup of tea”, which if we’re really privileged may even be accompanied by a photo of said hot beverage! I bet you can’t contain your excitement, right?
BUT on the other hand, most of us are also guilty of sharing the mundane. I know I am. Ok, so generally I don’t rush onto Facebook or Twitter every time I make a hot drink BUT I do often share if I’ve had a particularly good gym session or run… I don’t really think anyone cares a great deal about this – and I don’t think I care if they do or don’t – but sometimes I share it anyway… so why do I do that?
Firstly, let’s think – what makes content mundane?
There is no way to categorise all social media content into mundane or non-mundane as it is a very subjective concept. What is very mundane to one person may be very exciting to another. Therefore sometimes when we share what appears to be mundane content, maybe it is just content that will only appeal to a certain subgroup of users; For example, I know that I have social media friends who also enjoy working out, therefore they are more likely to appreciate the feeling of accomplishment that comes from a great run. But what about updates like the cup of tea example I mentioned? I am a big fan of a nice cup of tea but I do find it hard to believe that there are any social media users out there who get real excited over someone else on their friends list having a cup of tea.
Therefore there must be some other reason why users are sharing this content…
- Boredom and/or a habit – are we just so accustomed to using social media whenever we have a spare moment, such as when we are relaxing with a cup of tea, that we habitually update our status without really thinking about it in much depth at all?
- Nothing more interesting to say – perhaps we want to be involved in social media but as we aren’t all living the rock and roll lifestyle we can’t update about our daily parties, cruises, holidays or skydiving trips, therefore we share something mundane rather than share nothing at all?
- It’s not mundane to us – Perhaps we don’t realise some of our content is mundane? As I said before, it is a subjective concept – perhaps some users do think their cup of tea is so AMAZING that the whole world simply must know about it? If that is the case, I DO want to know about it, I want to know where to get a cup please!
- Social media as a diary – Lastly, I got to thinking… is social media the new diary? Do we tend to use social media like we would a paper journal, although with easier and more frequent access and does this lead us to update it with anything that is on our minds, no matter how mundane? I’m not saying that we would all make an entry in a paper diary about having a cup of tea, but looking back over some of my diaries as a child I did write some pretty dull stuff!
Funny, how you look back on yourself and think, did I really write that? (Hmmmm…. I wonder if history will repeat itself and I will look back on this blog and think “what was I thinking?”… as I’m currently writing about the banal, this seems like a distinct possibility! ;))
For me personally, I feel that the latter two reasons go some way to explaining why I occasionally share some of my more mundane content (hopefully it’s only a small percentage of my updates that fall into this category!), I am often aware that I have updated my Facebook status for myself as much as for everyone else, for example, I really enjoy it when my gym session goes well and I want to share that, even if it is just so I can look back and see how well I was doing at that period in time.
Facebook is definitely my diary (and my photo album combined) and I would be devastated if it was somehow erased and I lost all those details of the experiences in my life – some much less mundane than others! It’s a wonderful and easy way of having something to look back on in years to come. I am absolutely hopeless at keeping a paper diary, the novelty always wears off after the first few entries, but Facebook allows me to keep a diary without even realising that I am keeping one! Not only that but it allows me to easily add photos, videos and links and to interact with others. If I quickly want to check when something happened in my life (post 2006) I check Facebook! If I want to show someone a photo of that event I went to a few years back, Facebook lets me access it quickly and easily and from anywhere. Without necessarily realising it we have a content-rich, interactive diary of our lives since we adopted social media.
(If, like me, you appreciate the value of your previous social media content, you may want to look at backing up your profile. Facebook instructions on downloading your data are available here).
Of course, I realise that social media is very fluid – technology changes all the time and no-one knows how long Facebook or the other social media platforms will be around for…. over time they will evolve and/or be replaced by the latest alternative. However, that’s another topic for another day so let’s just ignore that issue for now and assume that social media may still be around in a form that allows us to keep all our data from our very first adoption of social media onwards.
In years to come, users could be able to look back over their parents’ social media accounts and see a diary of their lives. They will be able to read, watch and listen to how their parents experienced life. How amazing could that be? Even now, there are many memorialised pages on Facebook – these are created when the family of the deceased request that their loved one’s page is frozen as a memorial to that person. These pages sometimes allow friends and family to also add their memories and messages. All of the recorded memories must be very precious to loved ones (in addition to the memories they share already), this could include photos of special occasions, birthdays, holidays etc. some of which may have been shared together. I’m sure even the more ‘mundane’ updates could become special in this scenario. Perhaps the cup of tea is a rather extreme example but what if the status was “chilling with a cup of tea and my best friend”… that could be very special to the ‘best friend’ if the user has since passed on.
Now, I’m not saying that every mundane status or update is meaningful or going to leave some kind of lasting impact! Some are just mundane, unnecessary and apparently pointless (although they must be serving some purpose for the user, even if it is relief from boredom). This is merely to illustrate that for some users, social media has become their online diary. Personally, that is a big positive for me as without it I would not have a coherent, easy to access record of events in my life. Of course, I would never use social media to record my innermost thoughts or anything I did not mind sharing with others but it is a convenient resource for documenting life’s experiences and sharing the memories with others along the way…