Why ‘share’ and ‘sharing’ are often the wrong words


Following my blog post about disliking the word ‘prosumer’, here is another blog post about a word!

In talking about social media and digital media cultures, the word ‘share’ is often used: ‘I’m going to share this photograph on Facebook’ or ‘I have shared the article on my blog’.

But actually these people aren’t talking about sharing, are they? Sharing implies a meeting of minds – a human activity where people jointly experience something, and it’s part of a relationship between them.

This recent use of ‘sharing’ means ‘putting something online so that people can see it’ – or listen to it – but I don’t think that’s proper sharing.

(Partly I am reacting against the nauseating way in which Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, talks about people ‘sharing’ absolutely everything, but all he really means is people sticking lots of stuff on Facebook, which is similar but not the same).

I like to talk about conversations (where people are actually having some kind of conversation), or exchange (where people are actually exchanging things). We might also talk about people supporting or inspiring each other, in cases where they are actually supporting or inspiring each other. But let’s not abuse the word ‘sharing’ for things where people are not really having a shared experience.

I will stop talking about words now.

Photograph by Flickr user Włodi (see original), used under a Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 licence.

2 Responses to “Why ‘share’ and ‘sharing’ are often the wrong words”

  1. David Brake

    John, N. A. (2013). Sharing and Web 2.0: The emergence of a keyword. New Media & Society, 15(2), 167-182. doi: 10.1177/1461444812450684

    Goes into how we ended up calling so many things “sharing” – surprise surprise it big media companies nudged us along…


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