Be honest. How often do you share an article through your social networks that you haven’t read completely (or even at all)? To what extent do you feel like your reading activity is public?
Sharing is caring, right? When I read something that reminds me of someone, I love sending it their way. It’s the modern version of your grandparents cutting out interesting articles in the newspaper, folding them gingerly, and putting them in an envelope to land in your mailbox. Are the snippings ever received with the enthusiasm expected from the sender? Is that even the point?
Any more, when I read an article, I find myself thinking whether it meets the bar of sharing—on Twitter, Facebook, or the loftiest standard of all, via email. So much of my interesting reading comes pre-curated by a contact out there, or according to some New York Times algorithm, or maybe because a company paid for that top spot in my search ranking. And, to be honest, I am grateful for those providers of great content (ok, maybe not so much the ads). I seek them out. Even not-so-great content makes me happy when it’s targeted to me personally.
Still, I wonder about the public/private thing. The old Google Reader sharing is a feature I find myself missing even a year after Reader was shut down. I had a small, “curated” list of friends there who were interested in many of the same things that interest me. Those Google Reader friends and I are friends, online and in real life, largely based on our specific shared interests—more so than my family, my Facebook contacts, the people who I spend my days with—and so it was the perfect circle, pre-G+, where I found interesting content in line with my existing interests and, more than occasionally, was pleasantly surprised by other recommendations. Because the sharing was private, we were able to be genuinely curious, or critical, or even snarky without worrying that those comments would be viewed by everyone on the internet (well, at least until Google unexpectedly made those comments public. There was a frantic race to change my privacy settings on THAT day!)
So many bloggers love to publish a weekly list of links—some version of “What I read this week.” And it’s extremely tempting, because those posts are relatively easy to put together, but also because I WANT TO SHARE ALL OF THIS GOOD STUFF!
And yet, when going through my RSS reader (Feedly, these days), those are the posts I’m most likely to ignore. It’s just too overwhelming to me in digest form like that. Do other people do this too?
So, is your reading a little like your Instagram, in that your enjoyment of something is actually increased by knowing how “shareable” it is? Or are you exhausted by the urge to make every personal moment public? Would you respond differently if a contact recommended the same article on Twitter? Do you read articles people send your way, or does that seem old school like email chain letters?
If you don’t comment and share this article with ten people, you will have bad luck forever and will probably also get scurvy.