Becoming educated is not easy or natural for most people. Were it like learning to walk, we would not need this immense social infrastructure of schools, teachers, administrators, assignments, exams, grading and so forth. Educating young people requires a lot of pushing, cajoling and enforced discipline. And it takes a lot of time.
On the other hand, there are things that are naturally of interest to young people like, cool, gossip, physical appearance, social status and the like. Those things command their attention without the need for all the outside influence and support real education requires.
The economic goal of social media is grab attention and to sell it. The way to grab attention is to guess what people naturally want to look at and then let sophisticated software continuallly refine the offering in order to keep a person’s attention. You can get a pretty good idea of how this process comes out by looking at the cell phone of a 14-year old (if you can ever get hold of one.)
From a social standpoint, the process of giving the young what most grabs their attention is a bit like selling drinks to alcohloics. And great algorithms can be very expert in mixing the most enticing drinks – drinks that can easily crowd out the drugery of learning algebra.
What does this have to do with a blog on investing? A lot. Education is the investment that society makes in its people. The payoff is a more civil society and a stronger economy. Social media is reducing the return on that investment but the social media firms do not bear the cost.