… or tweet, or facebook, or be involved in any form of social media for that matter.
Now, before you read on, let me tell you that this post isn’t about trying to help the unconvinced understand the awesomeness of social media. Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re already convinced that it’s an amazing tool, for many reasons. The following is a bit of a rant on how I think social media is being misused. I’m not usually one to air a rant, but this one’s been simmering for a while and I want to hear your opinion on it. If you’re not in the mood for a rant, you can move on. I won’t be offended. I’m rarely in the mood to read other people’s rants.
If you’ve decided to stay, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion. I’ll allow it as long as it’s been posted with the respect of others in mind and doesn’t contain anything offensive. (Of course “offensive” is a very subjective word these days. You’ll just have to trust me on that one.)
So, if you’ve ever been plugged into any social media outlet you know there are lots of people who have lots to say. And really, I don’t think anyone can be the judge of what’s “good enough” or “important enough” to blog or tweet or facebook about. Everyone has the right to express themselves in which ever way they choose. That’s what we’re all about, here, in North America, right? Freedom of Expression. I don’t have a problem with that. And that’s not the point of my rant.
This is: I have a problem with people using social media only as a way to promote themselves. When blog posts and tweets and facebook updates are closed to discussion and/or comments and the sole purpose of them joining a social media site is self-advancement. When only the comments that further promote the individual are allowed through the filter or are worthy of a response. Hey, don’t get me wrong. As an author I know that self-promotion is a necessary evil. I also know that there are certainly comments that are left on blogs and elsewhere that are inappropriate and should not be allowed through the filter. And I do understand that some people are completely bombarded with comments and replies and can’t possibly address each one. I get that.
But what if inappropriate comments or comment-overload isn’t the case and you, the commenter/responder just want to be part of the conversation the writer started with their post/tweet. After all, they do want a conversation, don’t they? Why else would they post something on a public profile?
Certainly not just to tell the world how wonderful they are.
Imagine this: You’re at a party and so-and-so’s got the floor. They’re telling the people in the room about an experience they had. Clearly they are happy about it, and so they should be.
Someone says, “Wow! I knew you could do it! You’re amazing!”
“Why thank you,” they reply.
Someone else says, “You’re brilliant!”
“Could you repeat that?” they say. “I don’t think the person in the far corner heard you.”
They then hook up a microphone and pass it around the circle. The accolades continue.
Then it’s your turn. You take the mic and say, “Wow! That’s fantastic! Sounds like we’re on a similar path. I’d love to chat with you about—”
They snatch the mic from you and pass it to the next person.
“Fabulous!’ they gush.
Sound ridiculous? Well, yeah! In a room full of people it sure would be. So my question is: Why do people do this online? Is it because, although amazing friendships and connections can be formed in the online community, there is a lessened sense of accountability and genuine respect for people when you’re not actually face-to-face? When the sum of a person is reduced to words on a screen does that make them less of a person? Less worthy of at least the acknowlegment that they’ve entered the room and want to join the conversation?
Or would the people who behave this way online really treat face-to-face encounters the same way? I’d really like to think not.
Some of you might be thinking, “Claudia, just put on your big-girl panties and deal with it. That’s just the way it is.” And maybe it is. But I’m guessing social media is called social media for a reason. So why get involved if you don’t want to be social?