With the recent talks about how the Osama Bin Laden mission was being live tweeted & how fast everyone was to show that social media is fast becoming the source of information before the news networks, I got to thinking, is Social Media really a good thing?
I mean, it’s fun and all – but does social media really serve a greater good? I can’t answer that with a resounding yes or no.
Of course, there is the connections you can make via social media that were tough, if not impossible, to make before it. I’ve met people via Facebook and Twitter that I would likely never have run into. For my business, the same thing. Would I have been able to connect with an ex-vegan blogger from Saudi Arabia or a soccer trainer from Charlotte, NC without email or social media? Unlikely.
There is the obvious use of social media as a channel of advertising and sales. Many social media bloggers & ‘gurus’ chastise people for using social media to make sales. But face it – if companies weren’t using FB/Twitter as a sales channel, a lot of marketing people would be out of jobs. There are right and wrong ways to use social media to sell services and products, but social media thrives on companies and small businesses (and vice versa) making connections to further their growth.
Spam. I do get less spam in my email than I used to, but that’s because they’ve all but abandoned email to use social media to irritate. Companies over promoting themselves and not taking advantage of the ‘social’ part of social media come off as a constant commercial.
Cost. Social media marketing is, in essence, free. It only takes time to learn & use. So that means any idiot can get on and make themselves into a ‘social media guru.’ It’s getting to the point that I think if you are going to label yourself as a social media guru/expert you should have to go through some sort of licensure or testing. I mean, people aren’t allowed to just make babies without some sort of license, right? I’m not saying that I’m better or worse than those people, but I don’t claim to be an expert in anything, except for Madden. Bring it.
Facebook and Twitter have turned into a podium for people to express their thoughts as if anyone cared. When the news of Osama’s death broke, my Facebook wall was full of the most profound BS I’ve ever seen. These are the same people who take pictures of ironic t-shirts at Target and share their Saturday night empty beer can towers (and are nearly 40).
Just because you have the means to post whatever you are thinking, it doesn’t mean you should. After I posted my frustration to this lack of a filter the next morning on my Facebook, one of my friends commented that “if they were to say those things in public, you’d want to punch them in the face.” Well said. Here’s a tip – before you post something profound, think about how it would be received if you said it at a podium, in front of 500 strangers. If they wouldn’t want to hear it, neither do I.
While it’s amazing that someone in Japan was able to tell me exactly what was going on at that second during a tsunami – does that mean I should have access to it? There was some awful stuff going on that day, and subsequently some awful pictures/messages going around on Twitter. Just because I have access to that information, it didn’t change my life for the better. Think about other tragedies that have happened and how social media would have made it different.
Think back to September 11th, 2001. Can you imagine some of the photos, messages, videos that the news would have exploited for years if people were Tweeting from the towers? The thoughts of what those people went through in the moments before the towers fell is enough to make you shudder, but do we really need to see or hear the gory details straight from their phones? I’m not saying it wouldn’t be intriguing to see someone’s detailed account of the whole thing; I am saying it wouldn’t have changed my life (or most people’s) for the better.
We would have more horrible memories etched in our minds forever. The news would have more things to shove in our faces every September 11th and it would just bring up those horrible memories over again. Maybe my problem is more with how the news uses social media in an exploitive way, more than with social media itself?
In the end, social media serves a purpose. It isn’t always good, it isn’t always bad, and sometimes it’s ugly. I am curious to know what you think about the topic, is social media something that serves a greater good in our society?