Seth has some keen insight into the way social media works, and I think these paragraphs are spot on, and also something we, as users of social media, need to remind ourselves of daily:
“And so the social networks created a game, a game in which you ‘win’ by being notorious, outrageous or, as they coined the phrase, “authentic.” The whole world is watching, if you’re willing to put on a show.
That’s not how the world actually works. The successful people in your community or your industry (please substitute ‘happy’ for successful in that sentence) don’t act the way the influencers on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook do. That’s all invented, amplified stagecraft, it’s not the actual human condition.”
While Seth is writing about what the social networks can do to make the world a better place, and I would agree, but I also have to acknowledge that what they’ve been doing has been pretty lucrative for them, financially, so I’m not sure what incentive they have to stop. What I want you and I to do, is give them an incentive. Stop being outraged. Stop sharing things that make you so angry that you HAD to share without checking on whether they are true or not. Stop rewarding the people who create outrageous content just to get attention. Just stop.
Use social media the way you would if we were in a public place. Ignore the ones screaming the loudest, find a quiet place where you can truly connect with a smaller number of people, where you can contribute to conversations by providing good, solid, information, and learn from others doing the same. If you can do that, and if you find yourself getting an audience, great. Then just keep doing it, expose them to each other, and to other voices doing the same thing, using possibly one of the greatest tools we have to genuinely connect and educate people that we’ve ever had.
But, to truly make use of that power, we’re going to have to learn to ignore the stagecraft, and make the choice to not be part of all of that.
Can we do that? Or have we already lost?
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