So, now that Social Media is kind of coming of age, at least in technology years, people are starting to kind of look around and say, “Hmm, so this is what revolution looks like, eh? Seems like a lot of work.” The honeymoon phase may be ending. People who were on Twitter when it first started may be on year four or five of tweeting. People on Facebook may be fluctuating between wanting to use it to post pictures of the kids and wanting to have their company logo for their avatar. These are, in the life of Social Media, some crazy times.
I have been thinking a lot about Social Media as a sort of entity lately. I’ve been thinking about things I’m noticing, trends that seem to be forming, and there are ten things that frankly just make me sad. Maybe you have experienced some of these, too.
1. People are forgetting from whence they came: People who a couple of years ago were all about “the people who got me here” now seem to be leaning towards a different mythology. “I got here because of lots of sacrifice and hard work. I don’t owe you anything.” This is not to say that becoming successful on any level in the online world does not in fact take a lot of sacrifice and hard work, but forgetting all of the people who helped you along the way is a rather sad state of affairs.
2. People are losing track of who real friends are versus who online acquaintances are: I have noticed this both on a personal level and in watching other people. It’s easy to act online as if everyone is your friend on an equal playing field. After all, you’re just typing words (or not). But sometimes, people take their relationships beyond the online world, and yet still treat those people as if they are just online acquaintances. I think beautiful relationships can bloom on sites like Twitter and Facebook, but once those friendships start to grow, you can’t just go back to treating that person like another distant contact. Or, well, I guess you can, but that can be hurtful.
3. People are not giving each other the benefit of the doubt: It seems like even a year ago, when I started blogging and tweeting, there was a lot of leeway. The first assumption was, “Oh, you’re new and you don’t get how this works.” Now it seems like people are more trigger happy. “Oh, you did that, clearly you’re malicious and/or stupid.” Patience is a virtue that seems to be on the endangered species list.
4. People are gossiping incessantly: Jason Falls wrote about how this happens in real life at conventions. You see traces of it online too. “Oh, did you hear that…” I suppose that gossip is a natural by-product of gathering lots of people together, but the problem is that some people are using what they hear via the grapevine to access powerful people or to get attention. That is a major bummer.
5. People are threatening each other online: I don’t know if you have heard about what is going on with one particular lady in the online world – Erin Kotecki Vest (@queenofspain). Geoff Livingston wrote a post about the death threats she has received a couple of months ago. I really don’t have anything more to say about this. It’s so disturbing that the story speaks for itself.
6. People are speaking without thinking: Or maybe they are just not thinking clearly. After the earthquake in Japan, lots of people essentially tweeted, “Well, they deserve it.” People who have differing political views talk in extremely offensive ways to people whose views differ. It confuses me, because you know that anyone can see you acting that way, and yet people continue. Go figure.
7. People are trying to stir up big fights: The other day I was skimming through Twitter and someone was clearly trying to get two big names to go at each other. They posted a blog post from each person and said, “Hmm, I wonder if this person was attacking that person.” What is the point of that kind of thing? Would a fight between two big names do you any good? How?
8. People are forgetting their manners: There are so many basic, easy to follow HUMAN rules that people aren’t following. When someone does or says something for/to you, say thank you when you can. When someone is in a conversation, don’t barge in with a link to a blog post you wrote about something entirely different. A couple of weeks ago I found myself on a list called “People who didn’t follow me back.” Really? You want to try to guilt people into following you?
9. People think that it’s all new or nothing: I am biased on this issue because I come from an agency that works in “traditional” marketing as well as the new wave of marketing channels, but it is absolutely stunning to me how so many people are convinced that anything older than five years old is useless now. It shows a sort of myopic vision – a capacity to hold in your head only what is going on right now. I find it not just sad, actually, but also worrisome.
10. People are not understanding the power of the medium: There are so many easy ways to use Social Media to accomplish great things. You can spread the word about a charity marathon, a charity event, a chance to volunteer. Never before has it been so easy to shine the light on important issues. I worry we are missing this opportunity in favor of talking about Bieber Fever. If that doesn’t make you frown, I don’t know what will.
Of course, there are many more things that I enjoy about Social Media. Otherwise I wouldn’t be hanging around, would I? But these ten things have me furrowing my brow.
What do you think? What is worrying you these days about the online world? Anything? Nothing? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
1st Image by Peter Mazurek. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/mazwebs
2nd Image by Gabriella Fabbri. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/duchesssa