Digg’s January saw an increase in page views by 35 percent and was its highest traffic month since October 2010. When it dug into why, it found we’re proud to look smart, hip, or funny by sharing tech news and offbeat content, but we keep our guilty pleasure entertainment and divisive political reading to ourselves.
Specifically, Digg analyzed what people read vs what they shared to their Facebook Timeline in part through the new Digg Social Reader Open Graph which has helped boost Facebook referral traffic by 67 percent. It discovered telling psychological trends in how people want to portray idealized versions of themselves.
According to Digg’s data, “Entertainment stories were 14 percent of all stories read but less than 4 percent of those added to the Timeline. Likewise, political stories comprise less than 2 percent of those added to a user’s Timeline but close to 10 percent of what people read”. Gaming was another content type rarely shared.
It seems that while many of us are addicted to celebrity gossip and war games, we don’t want everyone to know. We might geek out privately with fellow enthusiasts about Kim Kardashian’s latest romance or a new Call Of Duty map pack, but there’s a stigma about allowing those interests to define our identities. Meanwhile, our social graphs often span across party lines, so we’d rather not share polarizing political content. Better to stay silent than offend someone, it seems. Out of top 100 stories most often published to Timeline, only 244 shares were political and 72 were gaming stories.
[Postscript: Yes, maybe people don't share niche content because they think it will bore most of their friends. But what really bores me is the softball, middle of the road content I can find anywhere. Expose me to your niche, show me why you love it, and I might just geek out with you.]
Instead we try to put our best foot forward, showing off our sense of humor and how in the know we are about developments in tech. Of the stories most shared to Timeline, tech stories got 5,086 shares, 2,060 for offbeat, 951 for world news, and 785 were of business related stories. The first data points are certainly biased by the irreverent tech-loving demographic Digg appeals to. However, the significant presence of world news and business show our desire to appear cultured and motivated. Diggers are gamers and many lean left, but you couldn’t tell from their Timelines.
Screw that. We shouldn’t be embarrassed. Sharing what we’re truly interested in attracts people who love us for who we really are. Why surround yourself with people who don’t get what excites you? No, you don’t need to be overtly confrontational by sharing every hate piece about the demopublican party, but be willing to say something controversial if you believe in it. You’ll spark discussion, and hear conflicting perspectives that help refine your views.
At their worst, social networks like Facebook let us compartmentalize our identity and show different sides to different people. At their best, they connect the different sides and encourage us to be mindful not of what we share, but of how we actually spend our time. That’s what really defines us. So BRB, I’m going to share my love of Marvel comic books, because that’s me.