Blog archive


Being OLD! and the pain of sharing

Have you seen the crazy dancing baby?!?!?!?!

I turned 30 last weekend and aside from increasing grey hair, slowing metabolism and a fondness for B&Q I’ve really noticed a grumpiness in my online behaviour. I’ve always been a slightly grumpy person, but recently it’s started to impede some of my favourite online behaviours.

Forrester would have me down as a collector, as I’m keen on ‘favourite-ing’ tracks on SoundCloud, posting odd GIFs on Tumblr and generally rooting around in the filth of the internet for gems. Recently however I’ve stopped publicising some of my best finds, precious things I would have shared before; I’ve even imposed odd rules on my Twitter profile such ‘no link, no post’.

I blame the OLD! phenomenon.

I’m not sure it counts as a phenomenon if it’s only myself and Edd, but nevertheless OLD! is the practice of shouting OLD! (whether in person or online) at someone when they post something you’ve seen before.

It’s horrible, mean and childish, but it itches that scratch that crops up when someone in your social network says ‘hey guys, check out this uber-LOL-copter, it almost my bwain explode’ and then posts a link to a video you shared 48 hours earlier.

ARRRGHHHHHH!!!!!!! Who cares?!?!?!?! I bloody do, and I hate myself for it.

It’s kind of linked to that other annoying (genuine) phenomenon of non-attribution.

Particularly prevalent on Twitter, this is the practice of posting a link without explicitly linking to the source, normally another Twitter user. Traditionally we would label this downright bad-practice, but isn’t it also inevitable as we’re processing so much information; who has the time to scour Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc to see who posted what first?

It also arguably doesn’t really matter, does it? Yes, you may be building a reputation as a solid link-sharer (I heard someone once utter ‘he gives good link’ and a bit of me died), but surely if you continue to find and share good stuff it won’t matter as the parasitic sharers will die away or move on.

I have nothing scientific to add, nor do I have any solutions, but some part of me is convinced it’s going to get worse. I fear a tetchy online future where friendships are tested and colleagues aggrieved by lazy or ignorant sharing.

UPDATE: Jules pointed out that this post makes me sound pretentious, like I’m constantly finding cool stuff first and scoff at the wallies that find it two days later. Completely not the case. I’m mostly late to the party and am frequently behind the curve when it comes to internet memes, cool new stuff on the internet and generally in life :( This post was mostly a rant at no-one in particular.

What do you think? Am I just a grumpy shit, or are you feeling this too? Let me know.

This post was filed under Current work, Not for profit, Social media, Working culture Comments are currently closed.


  1. It probably is your age Ross and would say, based on my own experience, that you’ll mellow.

    Posted 21st July 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink
  2. Lovely post Ross. Rings true with me.

    For the record, you give good link . . . I’d stop worrying about it and focus on unearthing all the good stuff and
    sharing things you like. And if in doubt, go niche! Everyone reads the same stuff . . .

    BTW – It took me a while not to read it as O.L.D. and hunt for an explanation of the acronym :-)

    Posted 21st July 2011 at 3:24 pm | Permalink
  3. Clive

    Ross, I’m so glad you brought up this subject. Something similar has been rattling around in my brain.

    The web is now so fast-moving, so adaptable and so instant that we’ve started to value recency over quality. Too much of our online reputation is tied up with being seen to be quick-off-the-mark, sharing new content before our peers.

    “FIRST!” is the friend of “OLD!”

    In the race for the next link or the newest meme, we forget the value of things that may be OLD! but have huge value. When did NEW become more important than GOOD? And why?

    Do we go into a bookshop and demand to see the very newest books, or do we browse the shelves in search of books that will please us, regardless of when they were written, or whether we’ve seen them before?

    There are online materials that I feel hesitant to link to these days, because they are old. Stuff like this old-but-powerful explanation of how the web works, or this old-but-hilarious spoof on local newspapers.

    There you go. I’ve posted OLD stuff. Wotcha gonna do about it?

    Posted 23rd July 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink
  4. Ross

    “Do we go into a bookshop and demand to see the very newest books, or do we browse the shelves in search of books that will please us, regardless of when they were written, or whether we’ve seen them before?” – i love this insight. So true.

    It’s odd though as recently while buying books on amazon I’ve paid more attention to the published date – obviously for non-fiction this makes sense but I’m not sure what drives me to check it on fiction titles. Maybe subconsciously I’ve striving for newness across all media.

    Posted 25th July 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink
  5. I am looking forward to becoming thirty in January. I can’t wait to answer every question/request with “I’m thirty. I am too old to deal with this rubbish.”

    Posted 26th July 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink
  6. Really interesting, Ross.

    I was in a pub many years ago with some friends and noticed one of them was listening to the news on a little radio. It was 1931 I think, just before the last great financial collapse, so an interesting time news wise.

    But when I asked him what I was doing he said he was a “news addict”.

    This was the moment I realised that many of us are addicted to the news, just as we are addicted to coffee, cheese, or even grumpiness (in my case).

    Personally, I just can’t bear the silence.


    Posted 2nd August 2011 at 7:16 am | Permalink
  7. Lara Sheldrake

    I’m not sure it’s about age at all but an increasing pressure felt by many to be as up to date as possible when it comes to content on the internet. So much so that we are afraid of being left behind and quick to judge those who appear to be.

    We question the content we share, where it’s from, when it was first published, it’s relevance and whether or not people are going to want to read it. This is where I think Google+ illustrates the importance of circles and the option of being selective with the content we share.

    Clive’s bookshop analogy is a great one and very true. It’s less about age of the user or the content but more about the genre/style and its relevance to the audience in question.

    Posted 2nd August 2011 at 7:37 am | Permalink
  8. Ross

    Pete – 1931 minus 18 (legal drinking age) makes you at least 98. The water in Lewes must be amazing :)

    Lara – thanks for the comment, totally agree about Clive nailing it with the bookshop comment.

    Posted 2nd August 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink
  9. Thanks Ross – the water in Lewes *is* amazing.

    But I was just trying to allude (clumsily) to the idea that desire for newness probably isn’t new.

    Ever since the first king ordered the first word written on papyrus there has probably been an eager acolyte (or enemy) quick to pick up on that word and relay it (with their own spin) to the next in line.

    And that seems to me to be based on a deeply human characteristic, honed perhaps on the wild-beast-laden prairie, one which creates a never-ending pressure to gather and spread the “news”.

    Today, of course, most of what is supposedly “new” isn’t. 95% of newspaper content, for example, isn’t actually new.

    It’s what someone, somewhere wants us to think is new, so that we will pass it on.

    I’m pretty sure that is true for internet content, too.

    That’s why Clive is so, so right. It’s much better to seek out what is good, rather than what is (apparently) new.


    Posted 3rd August 2011 at 8:45 am | Permalink

One Trackback

  1. [...] disappear from popular view as time (and, to an extent, the vagaries of EdgeRank) deem it to be old. It will remain located neatly on a [...]