The Social Media Gutter

If you listen to some people, you’d think that social media is the elixir that’ll save the world, or at least corporate America. It’s also the A-#1 place to “brand” yourself and network, haven’t you heard? Forget the old ideas like “meeting people” and “talking to work associates”, just hop on-line, throw a few interests up, connect with the Chris Brogans of the world, get a nice head shot, and viola! your brand is complete!

Companies that “get it” allow and encourage things like Facebook at the office. Twitter is replacing email and other mediums as the go-to source for news and information. Sure it is. It’s also some of the dumbest, intellectually devoid garbage you’ll see in your life.

Facebook has become the place to find out how your friend from college grades out in the “What Jellybean Flavor Am I"?” quiz, their top 5 alcoholic beverages, and that they’re a fan of “Sleeping In”. And twitter? Some recent trending topics were such gems as  “#3wordsaftersex”, “#liesboystell”, and the ever important “#jonaswebcast”. Very critical information. Things I certainly want to share with my ‘network’. And let’s not forget about the also-rans such as Friendster, MySpace (still alive, but certainly not ‘cool’ anymore), Orkut, and a bunch of others you only hear about on TechCrunch and the like.

There are a lot of different social media sites on the web. Each have their own niche (or at least make the attempt), and some do it better than others. Facebook IS a good place to keep up with a wide scope of friends and family across the globe. Twitter is fantastic for getting quick answers, and helping out others. I’ll be the first to admit that twitter has been great for me, having been able to develop some pretty awesome relationships, lined up some freelance tech work, and given me an outlet for the random things that come out of my mind. And Facebook has been a godsend since my son was born, given that my available time has been greatly diminished. And yes, I still have (and use) MySpace, as it’s a great place to find new music. (I also met my wife there in 2004, but that’s another story altogether).

So what’s the point of all this? Whenever a new tool or medium comes out, people are quick to anoint it the new “[insert currently popular service here]” or “[widely used service]” – killer. Well, phones aren’t dead, email is still alive, and nothing replaces the real-deal human contact. So the next time someone tries to convince you that you’re screwed without the next latest and greatest thing, show them a LOLcat.

{ 4 comments }

Ryan Stephens May 31, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Solid reality check for a LOT of people. There people that have built their entire businesses up as “social media consultants,” because it’s the shiny new thing. That’s great. I hope it’s profitable, but they’ll be as extinct as the railroad industry if they don’t realize that they have to interweave these tools into something bigger like “marketing” perhaps?

And you do a good job putting these tools in perspective. They are really good for some things. With the amount of free-time I have, and being 17 hours away from my of my friends and family, Facebook is a great tool, but I’d hate to hinge my business on it without being prepared for where things are going.

Glad to see you have some time to write Andrew! Always insightful! You and Lance have to keep the rest of us wet behind the ears youngsters in check sometimes. lol

Tim May 31, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Amen- I have had to drop a number of people I’ve followed on Twitter because they update 17 times a day about the most random, mindless things; worst of all those that Tweet about Tweeting.

Norcross May 31, 2009 at 11:26 pm

I’ve done that as well. I only tweet important things: weird links, ponies, and borderline felonies.

P June 2, 2009 at 12:40 pm

I have no social networking, either in reality or online. I’m one paranoid break and two guns shy of living in a small, hard to access cabin on a mountainside.