A simple search on Google or a scroll through Facebook will reveal hundreds of contrasting posts and articles about any subject imaginable. The internet has become cluttered with too many opinions and an overload of information. People need an easy way to stay up to date on the subjects that matter most to them without becoming bogged down in fake news, misinformation and wildly contrasting opinions.
The internet used to be a powerful tool for connecting people and allowing access to any topic imaginable. Now it is an endless quagmire that leaves people confused and unsure of what is real and what is not. Let’s take a look at the major reasons this change has come about, as well as a couple of ways content consumption can evolve to overcome the problem.
“Content producer” is the new 9-to-5
Ever since becoming an Instagram influencer or blogger enabled young people to have both fame and fortune, being a content producer has become one of the most desirable careers. This increase in content production, with little focus on creating unique high-quality content, has contributed significantly to the current digital chaos.
While enabling everyone to have a voice is good, it does make viewership more competitive and puts a burden on readers to filter through content for the most important information. Influencers such as Jake and Logan Paul fight hard for viewership by pumping out absurd content that attracts eyeballs. However, this approach only leads to more noise and information pollution, as evidenced by the numerous scandals both brothers have found themselves mired in.
Readers struggle to understand writer bias
Whenever you pull up an article, social media post or video, you see the name of the writer and often a small blurb about who they are. However, this provides little insight into where that person comes from, what biases they might have and how those biases are potentially affecting the content you are consuming.
If a writer has experience in the startup world, they are likely to highlight the benefits of quitting your job and founding a company, rather than the benefits of working for a major corporation. Someone reviewing products might have previous experiences with a product or brand that influence their reviews. In order for readers to acquire accurate information, they need to have access to information about the writers so they can take potential biases into account.
Content producers are indebted to advertisers
One of the biggest problems with the current content industry is that everyone needs to get paid. For producers, this tends to mean putting out content that drives ad impressions. Whether writers admit it or not, they care about how many views they get and try to write content that will attract more viewers.
Since the focus of content production is on driving viewership, headlines have become clickbait, content follows viral trends and there is less focus on drafting balanced and valuable content. While this will never change (as noted above, everyone needs to get paid), there needs to be a way for content consumers to filter out viral and clickbait content and get to real information.
Technology needs to focus on user experience
The problems noted above have resulted in individuals being misinformed about the world around them. They led to a number of issues during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and various pump-and-dump schemes with cryptocurrency. Essentially, technology needs to improve its user experience so people are able to become more knowledgeable.
Without a better user experience, the internet is only going to get more bloated with information and more chaotic to wade through. We live in an era of content and advertising, which has resulted in an excessive amount of digital content fighting for our attention. This must change. People need to have access to real-world knowledge, not just opinions and limited facts that any writer chooses to post online.