Independence Day: Silencing Social Media

1 07 2009

Are we only 140-characters deep?

After spending way too much time on LinkedIn looking through empty job postings and reading everyone’s “expert” opinion about social media, and partially influenced by exhaustion from MJ Faked It blog postings — I’ve decided, I’m throwing in the towel. In 48 hours, I’m turning it all off. My Blackberry, my Facebook page, my Twitter feeds, my LinkedIn updates, my Outlook, G-Chat, Adium, texting, smoke signals. All of it. I know, most of you are probably running around screaming in hysterics about why I would be so insane. But the decision has been made.

The other day, I was with a group of friends that I am constantly emailing, g-chatting, facebooking, twittering with all day, everyday. We were having drinks and I swear we had nothing to say to each other. I already knew everything that happened to them that week, the week before, the week before that. I saw every picture, I read every thought, I followed every link; I knew it all before it even happened. So we sat with our cold tasty beverages, on a beautiful sunny day, in silence.

“Oh, did you know that I just launched a blog for…” “Yeah, I read that on your LinkedIn updates.” “Oh, did you hear that Jeff Goldblum died?” “Yeah, about a ba-zillion times.” “Oh did you see that Jenn is dating Brad?” “Yeah, it was in my Twitter feed.”

I started thinking about it. Yes, I am obsessed with all of my Internet time wasters. I love Facebook because I can see what people are up to. I love Twitter because I can see what new marketing efforts are hot right now. I love LinkedIn because I can see find new companies and read rumblings in my industry. But I can’t help but wonder if access to all of these conversation tools are making us too transparent as people.

A lady that I work with brought up the Farrah Fawcett biography on NBC. She felt that, though the story had some empathetic value, deep down, it was really just about entertainment. Her point “Are our most private experiences, like dying, too public?” Are we now just exploiting ourselves?

As a writer, my life experiences have always been the meat of my stories. I have always believed that self-exploitation could help others by passing my hard earned lessons on. But is anyone listening to others’ lessons anymore? Or are we just posting.

Was the Farrah Biography helpful to her, by giving her a way to release the anguish of her struggle and to say goodbye to her fans? Did it give her a sense of liberation from the disease? Did those that watched and cried learn a lesson about dying and feel less alone about a similar experience that they had, or are having or know someone who has had? Or did they just watch to fulfill some detached sensation of sadness?

I suppose social networking for me is a surface outlet in hopes to gain some sort of popularity. But at the crux of it all, it’s really just a way to exploit my life in hopes to gain recognition as a writer. To me, it’s a marketing tool to market myself. But what I’m struggling with is to whom am I marketing?

That’s why I’m turning it off. I’m taking a break in order that I can listen to my own head, instead of the flat, rectangular one that stares at me all day. The question is: At the end of the day, who do I want to listen to me and what do I want to tell them?

Get out my facebook!

18 06 2009

I couldn’t believe my ears when CNN started talking about their leads coming from Twitter, however unverifiable. Well maybe I could. Good thing John Stewart nailed it.

It’s amazing to me that as soon as all these white-hairs finally had something to call this phenomenon, Social Media, so they were able to suck all of the charm out of it, too.

“Social networking,” as you may so flippantly call it, Larry King, in your desperate attempt to stay relevant, has been around since the Oregon Trail. We invented text messaging back in ’95 when we took a pen and paper and wrote down which numbers correspond with which letters in the pager code alphabet. We invented social networking when we sat in front of the AOL dial-up screen and ate up 500 minutes in a chat room full of what we came to find out were pedophiles. I started an online newsletter when I was 10, before there was such thing as eMarketing. It was called Collage and it was a Word document sent out to my chat room following.

Basically, this stuff has been around and my generation knows it. So why is everyone thinking it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread? Because you are afraid that if you don’t start paying attention to the previously-dubbed lazy Gen-Yers, that we’ll stop listening? Here’s a news flash: We never listened.

Social media isn’t a fad. It’s just another way to advertise. It doesn’t replace anything (except for maybe your old stuffy PR firm that’s still making tangible clip books). Social media is a way to create ultimate corporate transparency. But is that what you really want? This decade of marketing is not Web 2.0. It’s customer service 1.0. If your customer service lacks, so will the overarching perception of your brand. Social media is just a faster way for customers to find out about it.