Already you can tell this will be a different kind of post for me. Before I begin my curmudgeoned polemic, let me state for the record: Overall I LOVE the internet. I love how it empowers, entertains, enables, etc. I believe it is the most powerful communication and civic tool since the printing press.
BUT – I also love playing devil’s advocate and anytime I am in a room filled with ‘yes’ people – I instantly want to consider the argument for ‘no.’ So while my overall views remain the same, certain things have been bugging me lately about “social media” and other buzzwords that are constantly shoveled into my internet experience.
In fact – the term “social media” has begun to irk the piss out of me.
I’ll start with a story that has re-occurred every day for the last three weeks. I wake up to new Twitter follows.
“Hooray,” I think to myself. What wonderful new people will I be exposed to next? Or – what long lost e-friends have found me on Twitter (I shudder the day old highschool acquaintances find me).
The answer: The person following me is also following 8,624 billion other people. They are being followed by around 200-300 back. In fact, these Twitter accounts are nothing more than an attempt to spam an RSS feed or get social capital behind some lame social media consultant.
Of course I understand that some entities, blogs, newspapers, etc, are going to use Twitter as broadcasting tools. I have no problem if the NYT follows me in an effort to make sure I realize they have a Twitter account. But I’m OFFENDED when a person, a real human being, decides to follow me along with 10,000 other people.
What does this act say to me?
- Does the person really want to follow my conversations? Obviously not – they are on a blind follow-fest and I am an appetizer.
- This is no different from the heydays of MySpace when some people collected 10K plus friends. Aside from Tila Tequila who now has an absurd and annoying reality show – it’s an obnoxious and futile attempt at social media stardom.
I use this as an anecdote. My beef isn’t with Twitter, but with the shameless self-promotion that occurs 24/7 on the web, to which Twitter is another tool. Conversation is being comodified – and people think they can become ‘experts’ in online conversations.
Guess what: “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.”
How much of the internet is produced by social media experts re-hashing what others have already said on the web in their own words? Better yet, how much do they charge to teach you how to re-hash those same words?
I understand the allure of being an A-list blogger but the blogosphere needs to put its tongue back in its proverbial mouth and stop drooling – it’s unbecoming. We are oversaturating ourselves with conversation for the sack of money or e-fame. The blogosphere needs to mature on several levels.
1. There needs to be space for successful blogs beyond Tech and Politics. I know there are lots of mommy-bloggers and food blogs, etc – but the most successful blogs right now are either tech or politics. Just take a look at the Technorati top 100 and try to disagree with me. Then consider this: Half of those tech-blogs are navel gazing, writing about either
A. Tools that enable + empower new media.
B. Other A-list bloggers.
Now: I’m not trying to knock what the top 100 have going: In fact, I’d argue that they are at the top because they are so damn good. The problem is that EVERYONE thinks they are so damn good – and they probably are good…. at something. But the tone set from the top is that the only means to success is to copy and “do as I do.”
Okay: End rant. Tomorrow’s post will be more cheery – promise.