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Monday, December 10, 2007

The Myth and Fallacy of Social Media

How do I put this?  How does one break the news to an alcoholic, for example, that they have a disease that needs attention?  How does one explain that if the disease does not get attention, the liquor stores, bars and alcohol companies will continue to bleed them dry until they die?

From what I've been told, you just tell them once and then step back, so here goes...

You're A Socialmediaholic.

Despite all the increased connectivity.  Despite all the new connections and ways of wasti.. err, spending... your time, you are still a nobody, a no one, a non-entity, a loser, a big fat ZERO.

Go Ahead, Get Mad at Me

But there's the hypocrisy - because if you hated me for saying so, then you'd be hating the Buddha and Dalai Lama, as well.  Since social media seems to appeal mainly to grassroots, peace-loving greenie types, I imagine that would cover most of you.

But if you're Christian, you'd be hating Jesus, too, who pretty much said that you're nothing without Him who was the only way to the Father.  And were you really at church last Sunday, or were you Digging?  Hmmmm?

And if you're Jewish, shame on you.  What is one of G-d's chosen people doing flailing around in a Twitter box on Shabbos?

If you're Hindu, I'm sure Lakshmi has a much better vision of how a life can be lived than running around from social media farm to farm to get milked like a social media cow.  Is that the epitome of luck and good fortune?

And if you're Buddhist, you don't mind, because you're already one with everything.  Isn't that right "Oh, Brother, My Self?"

And So On, And So On...

So, you see, here's the myth -  you were lonely.  You were not happy.  You had dreams and desires that you were not able to fully express, or even at all.  So someone came along and pretty much said, "Hey, you know what?  We can put these people to use!"

social media addiction is like the matrix

So they came to you and said, "Hey, you know all those goals and hopes and dreams you had that you almost forgot about because you couldn't fully express them, or not even at all?  Well, we've created this cool, little application that will give you the ability to tell a whole bunch of people about them.  And if you use it, we'll get rich because huge greedy companies will see us as innovators (read:  predacious) and want to pay us for the privilege of milking and eating our herd.  While, in reality, you'll just be talking to a whole bunch of people who, while chasing the dream like you, won't hear a word you're saying, because they are too busy hearing themselves, also just like you!  Isn't it awesome!"

Rise and Shine, Buttercup!

intense social media addiction photo

So every morning, you wake up from that part of your shallow existence you accept as "a dream" and, feeling your nothingness dawning on you, you reach for your bottle of social media and keep drinking until all awareness of it is obliterated from your consciousness.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a small village to the north I intend to conquer today and I have to go ready my horse.

[just in case you think i'm really a meanie, here's something to provide you some counter-balance, "John Lennon Imagined Social Media" (thanks to Nick for stumbling this) - tell me it doesn't sound irresistibly wonderful and a whole lot more desirable than anything I've just said.]


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16 comments:

gamermk said...

Sphunn: http://sphinn.com/story/18027

:P

btw, Brilliant.

theGypsy said...

Well I am just a Social Media (read; nepotistic) grump at heart brother Sam... I do enjoy playing with it and of course, being social, but as a business model or ego back scratcher? Bah humbug I say.

Unfortunately I do not get to play in SMM as much as I'd like because of my main addiction; making cash :0)

Fun rant man... be seein ya round !

Dave

TheNanny612 said...

Jeeze, someone woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning. ;-)

Great post as usual, Sam.

Shana

Sam Freedom said...

@gamermk - thanks, I had a funny feeling you'd find this enjoyable. ;-)

@thegypsy - Hi Dave, I hope you were joking because the basic premise of an addiction is that the activity of distraction reaches a point where one's life becomes unmanageable. So I certainly hope your making cash is not an addiction but rather an enjoyable pastime.

In any case, I can't see how you couldn't make cash using social media. I neglected to mention the subculture of those who game it for their advantage, steering a few sheep towards their shearing operations, as well. But it happens.

Sam Freedom said...

@thenanny612 - Thanks. It's just nice to wake up, period.

Wingnut said...

I generally like your writing not but this one doesn't really say anything.

What you say at first is great/true/obvious - "people get addicted to social media and that ultimately it means nothing."

Good point and true for the vast majority of social media addicts, however, if these people find content that they like/find relevant/funny.... that they probably wouldn't have found otherwise - why is it bad? (assuming they were just surfing the internet anyway)

Not only that, as an internet marketer the ability to send thousands of hits to a website with the single click of a button is well, really powerful. So even if the individual doing it is ultimately nameless - having this power is/can be very valuable, so what is the problem with being addicted to obtaining this power?

After you make your initial point you throw religion words around (not that it bothers me beings as I claim no religion) but it all loses focus.

Are you comparing yourself to God, J-man, and the Dali Llama? I couldn't follow... why would people get mad at you? You didn't call anyone out, just kind of made a general statement in the second person... unless you were saying that Social Media is their/our new religion... and that people only go to religion because "You were not happy. You had dreams and desires that you were not able to fully express, or even at all. So someone came along and pretty much said, "Hey, you know what? We can put these people to use!" - Then I could see how that could upset someone.

Hmm, maybe that's my next blog post will be about.

swags2804 said...

As always Sam, the perfect antidote. Nicely written, hugely original angle. I think I'm definitely showing signs of a major addiction.
Thanks for the plug at the end too.

Nick

Sam Freedom said...

@swags2804 - both thanks and you're welcome. ;-) I think, for many, it will only become obvious what's happened to them once they've had it pointed out often enough.

@wingnut - For the record, let's first note that you are the same guy who pm'd me with a lecture on when is the best time to sphinn your articles... while the article in question had gone on to receive 35+ sphinns regardless of being sphunn at the "wrong" time.

Ok, that being said, I'll take your comment point for point where I think it matters:

I generally like your writing not but this one doesn't really say anything.

What you say at first is great/true/obvious - "people get addicted to social media and that ultimately it means nothing."

Good point and true for the vast majority of social media addicts,


I didn't say that it means nothing, Wingnut. I said that it means something far different than what the casual user intends. Just like any drug that makes one feel less lonely, there's a possibility of becoming addicted. And just like any addiction, there's always those who benefit from it happening to you.

The end result is that the socialmediaholic is not just the same nothing as when she or he started out but a mere SHELL of the former nothing.

however, if these people find content that they like/find relevant/funny.... that they probably wouldn't have found otherwise - why is it bad? (assuming they were just surfing the internet anyway)

Unlike a leg trap, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with it, but when it subtly begins to deprive your loved ones from spending valuable time with you, amongst other things, then something is bad... for us all.

As in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" when one person dies, a part of all of us dies... when one person becomes addicted, a part of all of us suffers. I can understand you might not realize that, but I do.

Not only that, as an internet marketer the ability to send thousands of hits to a website with the single click of a button is well, really powerful. So even if the individual doing it is ultimately nameless - having this power is/can be very valuable, so what is the problem with being addicted to obtaining this power?

The nature of addiction is that it makes one's life become unmanageable so addiction to anything can't be good. But, if you'll go back and read the post again, you'll see I don't use the "good/bad" paradigm. I keep it simple with "aware/unaware" and "predator/prey" examples.

If you wish to be a predator, that's fine. I didn't say it was bad. As a predator, I can see why you might take exception to my educating the social media lambs of your existence. ;-)

After you make your initial point you throw religion words around (not that it bothers me beings as I claim no religion) but it all loses focus.

I understand. The point is that if you get mad at me for saying that despite all of the potential feelings and identities social media offers us, all the great religions still point to the fact that we are just "two idiots in a room talking" or still "sinners" (mistaken), or "in need of divine fortune" etc.

So if one were angry with me for saying social media is a big fallacy then one might also be at odds with his or her religion. Since you are not religious, it made no sense to you. So maybe I should come up with an example for atheists.

Listen, Wingnut, even great humanitarians who have humanities best interests in mind have to find ways to put "unfinished" people to good use. Bob Dylan put it quite aptly when he sang, "Ya gotta serve somebody...!" He was, intentionally or not, in agreement with the bible which states, "No man can have 2 masters."

It isn't even really about religion. It's just a simple statement of function.

So the bigger question, thanks to your inquiry, becomes, "As social media enthusiasts/addicts, to whom do we serve (our attention)?"

Because our attention is a food of limited supply.

Sam

Wingnut said...

@sam freedom - Again starting with the rhetoric that says nothing? :)

I won't respond here to your opening line in your reply and attempt to belittle me (to try and invalidate my points?) so... I will continue to your new comments.

"Despite all the increased connectivity. Despite all the new connections... you are still a nobody, a no one, a non-entity, a loser, a big fat ZERO."

How is that:

"I didn't say that it means nothing... I said that it means something far different than what the casual user intends."

1.) "Zero" and "Non-entity" implies "nothing."
2.) Calling a social media addict a zero or non-entity is calling them "nothing."
3.) To call someone "nothing" is to imply that anything they do is "nothing"
4.) Since they themselves are in total a "nothing" their social media addiction/usage means nothing

"As in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" when one person dies, a part of all of us dies... when one person becomes addicted, a part of all of us suffers. I can understand you might not realize that, but I do."

No way you believe this - and again, why try and belittle me by saying I probably wouldn't understand it? - especially knowing very little about me

I'm not going to buy that you're a "live and let live" "everyone is equal and connected and the trees have feelings too" hippy. Of course you could be, but the tone you write this blog with implies otherwise and since I only know "you" (or the persona you have created here) from this blog it doesn't flow.

Your following points were solid enough. :)

-Dave Winget

Omega said...

Nice sayd.. the what I`m trying to do here: otd[dot]oshells[dot]com is what you described.
I guess it would be better to let ppl do theyr "Free Choise" and if they are pleased with the results (talking and maybe! someone is listening) good for them.

my2cents

Sam Freedom said...

@omega - there's no indication in the post that tells people they should stop doing A, B or C. It only casts a light on both the over and undersides of the bigger picture. If someone is enjoying themselves, then good for them. I see many cow and sheep appearing to be comfortably enjoying the kind of day most executives dream about.

Sam Freedom said...

Wingnut said...
@sam freedom - Again starting with the rhetoric that says nothing? :)


I encourage people to go toe-to-toe with their facts and sincere inquiries. There's many instances of me engaging people in debate with our facts but passive-aggressive behavior is both ugly and nasty and isn't welcome. If you have something to say, just say it...

I won't respond here to your opening line in your reply and attempt to belittle me (to try and invalidate my points?) so... I will continue to your new comments.

Please do, but with facts, not passive-aggressive editorializing. You were not only wrong about this but you were also wrong about the other point about which you pm'd me. If you contacted me with a spirit of cameraderie, you'd have probably gotten a different answer.

The title of the blog (and its comments) implies that I don't mind a good, strong debate. I do mind somewhat silly editorial commentary like "starting with the rhetoric that says nothing" because it, ironically, is the REAL epitome of "saying nothing." To "say something" would be to simply point out where you thought there were errors and to just make your case.

"Despite all the increased connectivity. Despite all the new connections... you are still a nobody, a no one, a non-entity, a loser, a big fat ZERO."

How is that:

"I didn't say that it means nothing... I said that it means something far different than what the casual user intends."

1.) "Zero" and "Non-entity" implies "nothing."
2.) Calling a social media addict a zero or non-entity is calling them "nothing."
3.) To call someone "nothing" is to imply that anything they do is "nothing"
4.) Since they themselves are in total a "nothing" their social media addiction/usage means nothing


Are you kidding me? I feel as if I'm watching a high school debate class or a student hall monitor who just learned Cartesian rationalism. You were wrong. You read into it something of your own making.
For what it's worth, the exact wording was, "you are STILL a nobody, a no one, a non-entity, a loser, a big fat ZERO.you are still a nobody, a no one, a non-entity, a loser, a big fat ZERO." - operative word being, STILL. That means they were a "nothing" BEFORE they were a social media addict and, therefore, has nothing to do WITH social media.

"As in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" when one person dies, a part of all of us dies... when one person becomes addicted, a part of all of us suffers. I can understand you might not realize that, but I do."

No way you believe this - and again, why try and belittle me by saying I probably wouldn't understand it? - especially knowing very little about me


You're right; I don't believe it. I understand it. There's a difference. It's a fact to be verified, not a belief to be blindly followed. Were you sincere, you might be able to conduct silent experiments to help you determine whether or not it is true. Until then, it will be something for you to believe or not believe. How difficult is that to understand?

Also, I think the most ineffective defense against being understood is to tell someone they know very little about you. Since I am confident in my understanding of "types", I won't even bother explaining it to you because it won't do you any good. I'll give you a hint, though; had you asked sincerely, you'd have gotten a different answer.

I'm not going to buy that you're a "live and let live" "everyone is equal and connected and the trees have feelings too" hippy. Of course you could be, but the tone you write this blog with implies otherwise and since I only know "you" (or the persona you have created here) from this blog it doesn't flow.

I wish I understood what you were saying in this previous paragraph. I never said everyone was equal even though I understand, and value, why the US Constitution mandates such a presumption. And I don't understand where "live and let live" entered the picture. It should be more telling that I ended by linking to a blog that gave the opposite tone and message to mine. Or did the prominence of that, and its value, escape you?

Your following points were solid enough. :)

Thanks, glad you liked them.

Wingnut said...

@samfreedom

Please do, but with facts, not passive-aggressive editorializing. You were not only wrong about this but you were also wrong about the other point about which you pm'd me.


Facts:
-You submitted a post of mine at 5pm
-I thanked you for the sphinn and offered some advice on when to submit because your profile had 40+ submits with only one gone hot
-The next day it had 10 sphinns and was hidden behind 50+ other posts
-I asked 5 friends to sphinn the story, they did
-6 more people joined sphinn (I am not sure who and it was not my doing) and gamed the system and pushed it to the front page (look at "who sphunn this" you'll see about 6 no avatar 1 sphinns cast people)
-After reaching the front page 14 more people sphunn the story because they liked it

Conclusions:
-Had the post been submitted at a time when Sphinn traffic is highest it (probably) would have made the front page without being gamed.
-Sam Freedom does not like (or listen to?) unsolicited advice.

Sam Freedom said...

@Wingnut - Hi Dave, ok, thanks for sharing your angst. Response embedded:

Facts:
-You submitted a post of mine at 5pm
-I thanked you for the sphinn and offered some advice on when to submit because your profile had 40+ submits with only one gone hot


From which you assumed that I didn't know what you were about to tell me when, instead, it could have just been because I was relatively new and had only just begun to build up a decent following of acquaintances.

-The next day it had 10 sphinns and was hidden behind 50+ other posts

No so much because of timing but because of an increase in spamming and new gamers.

-I asked 5 friends to sphinn the story, they did
-6 more people joined sphinn (I am not sure who and it was not my doing) and gamed the system and pushed it to the front page (look at "who sphunn this" you'll see about 6 no avatar 1 sphinns cast people)
-After reaching the front page 14 more people sphunn the story because they liked it


Why didn't you ask your 6 friends to sphinn it at the right time beforehand?

After all, your exact words to me were, "Good content gets sphinns. When you do it at the right time it happens naturally."

It's wild to assume that your little 2 paragraph blurb about a widget that also appears, in just as much detail, on about 2,000+ other sites would have definitely gone hot faster without being gamed had it been posted at a different time.

I wonder, then, how my sphinn of "50 Wordpress Plugins for Powerbloggers" was Sphunn at the same time of night as your post but still went hot less than 16 hrs later.

Conclusions:
-Had the post been submitted at a time when Sphinn traffic is highest it (probably) would have made the front page without being gamed.


Glad you slipped in probably because it highlights, precisely, what I was getting at - you made an assumption... perhaps reasonable, but still an assumption and then proceeded to "educate" me based on that assumption.

-Sam Freedom does not like (or listen to?) unsolicited advice.

I don't mind it at all. But if someone writes back something to the effect of, "Why are you telling me this?" or "Yes, but what does that have to do with anything?", it might mean that your "probablies" and your "assumption" were a mistake and that the person already knew that about which you were advising them but had other reasons for doing what they did when they did it.

In other words, for best results, try beginning with an inquiry rather than an assumption, "Did you realize that if you Sphinn at better times, you get better results?" or "Just curious, did you Sphinn at Xpm for a particular reason? Because my experience, and that of many I know, is that sphinning at Xam has allowed more sphinns to go hot faster than if..." etc.

Then it feels more like you're trying to help the person rather than lecture them.

That's all... your assumptions were all logical and reasonable but they were assumptions. And leading with them doesn't always have the best results.

So like you advised me to sphinn at certain hours, I'm advising you to advise differently.

Maybe we understand each other a little better now? ;-)

Thanks for being a good sport and sharing your angst,
Sam

ArahMan7 said...

If there's no indication in the post that tells people they should stop doing A, B or C, then I did it for an enjoyable pastime.

Thanks for the post, Sam. It got me thinking...

Greetings and lotta loves from Malaysia.

~ ArahMan7

Sam Freedom said...

Arahman7, you're welcome and thank you for saying so. It seems people understand that I'm not really calling them Big Zeros or losers but just making the point that

a) if they were BEFORE social media, they'll still be AFTER social media and quite possibly even more so but with less awareness of it.

and

b) If they have a problem with that then they should also be aware they might be in conflict with their religious/spiritual system of choice. ;-)

Otherwise, it's all pretty fun, right? ;-)