When social media was first introduced, there was all this talk of businesses networking, individuals enhancing knowledge, access and the great information exchange. But fairly often, usability studies show that user behavior falls short of that expectation.
Social media gave us all a license for Internet celebrity and voyeurism.
For the price of a user name, password and several hours of distracted effort, we can create our own celebrity on social media sites: amassing friends, followers, likes, gifts, rankings and scores. We tidy up our image of ourselves with our best pictures, colorful anecdotes to share our wit and pertinent updates about how we spend our time. For all this "engagement"...we really engage less and less and less.
As a purveyor of image in my marketing career, it is my job to ensure I provide clients with solutions that represent their products, company standards and reputation across media channels. Web media is one of the biggest ways I can manage my company brand. So, it would appear hypocritical for me to make such statements about an outlet that I use for my own personal and professional needs...but I disagree.
I don't dislike social media. I dislike some of the uglier character traits social media brings to light.
With the lure of Internet celebrity comes the temptation to craft an existence that might not look a thing like the life you are truly living. With some social media enthusiasts, having an event is not as important as making sure you properly broadcast the event to anyone who feigns an interest in your life. People read profile pages, pour through images and posts looking for some validation - positive or negative. We now are driven as a society to "protect our image" rather than live the life that brings us the most fulfilment. It is the easiest, most inexpensive way to escape your life and recreate its "sitcom-friendly" version.
In addition to a critical source for news, knowledge and opportunity, the Internet has become the virtual neighborhood. Not the positive, nurturing neighborhood where parents look out for each other's kids, form real personal connections with each other and offer support. It's the community where neighbors all smile, share funny jokes, gossip and brag about new acquisitions before returning to the interior of their homes where all the secrets, the realities and unfinished business waits.
With all this connectivity and access, instead of spending our time trying to learn, adapt and evolve...we use innovation to find new ways to distract ourselves from intimacy, truth, progress and growth. I'm guilty of some of this for sure...but as I use social media in marketing and otherwise, it's become clear to me that I don't really enjoy it unless I'm authentic in the process.