I’ve been kicking this post around for several months, finally ready to write it. Before I begin, three things:
- Although I work for Dell, this post and in fact everything on this blog are my ideas and thoughts, not those of my employer. For my full legal disclaimer please see my About Me page.
- The world we live in seems pretty broken a lot of the time. One thing I think about constantly is how not to add to the broken-ness, but to try and bring things together where I can. For the last year or so, that’s meant healing some things about myself that got really broken. Maybe I will write more about that soon. At any rate – this post is written in that spirit….the spirit of helping bring things together, not the spirit of breaking anything or anyone.
- Mom, if you read this, sorry for the swearing.
So why is someone who has been in the forefront of using social media for the enterprise for the past four or five years saying social media is bullshit? The way I originally felt about the promise of social media is very much the same as what Philippe Borremans expressed in his post We Need More Corporate Anarchists:
Back in the days, when social media was something organizations feared, some of us thought that it was going to be a driver in real change. Change that would not only “optimize” a business but truly empower employees to solve the toughest problems in their day to day job.
Personally I was convinced that the introduction of social tools would drastically impact traditional power structures in companies – even change the way we do business on a global scale.
That’s how I felt when I started using the new wave social media tools at work back in 2008. I’ve been a blogger since around 2003, but using other social tools such as message boards and online groups since I got online in 1997 or 1998. The power of these tools pulled me out of poverty, helped me figure out how to get a diagnosis for my daughter, and have connected me to amazing people all over the globe.
But “social media” really is a set of tools that, when used proactively, can help us satisfy our information needs by connecting us to the content and people who have access to the information that will help fill those needs. I’m going to repeat that:
Social media is a set of tools.
And y’all better believe that the powers that be have figured this out, and they are now working (and staffing) programs to control the information you consume. They have figured out how to use this set of tools to control the message. Don’t believe me?
- Think of all we know about how our (US) government is controlling the internet now. Oh, wait the news isn’t talking about the actual information, they are focused on the individual
- Our personal data is not personal at all – it has value and is traded as a commodity.
- The first geek US president is scrubbing his “change.org” website to erase what his promises concerning whistle-blowers
- Lobbyists call Washington the most complex and intricate web of BS in the world – they say their job is to talk to the right people, get into the right publications…so we (the normal people) read the news THEY want us to see
More and more, this is also how corporate social media works. They use the tools to control the message, not to connect with their users.
This is why I say social media is bullshit
But, the thing is, since social media is really just a set of tools, we have the power to change this.
- Question what you read.
- Share things that fill your information needs with others.
- Reflect on different opinions and viewpoints, share your own.
- Enjoy the silliness the tools can bring out – like #sharknado and other things – but remember to consume the silliness like you do cotton candy. Cotton candy ALWAYS sounds like a great idea if you haven’t had it in a while, but after a couple of bites you’ve had enough and it sorta makes you feel sick.
- Have a couple of bites of silly, then step away from the keyboard. Read a book, call your mom, vacuum your floors, plant something, go outside and play.
Connect with yourself, with reality. That’s what helps you have the balance required to use social media tools to connect, and not to fall for the social media plays built by others that are meant to break – and potentially bind – us all.