23/10/2009 at 5:50 pm 3 comments

While I was on my run today, with the Nine Inch Nails song The Becoming blasting my ears – it occurred to me that the convenience of social media has taken away the thrill of obsession. Back in the day – if you wanted to stalk someone you would have to be inventive, track down their university lecture timetable and bump into them at the library, or compose anonymous haikus slipped into their locker at the gym. It was hard work, damnit – and our minds were rewarded with increased imagination and lots of time to reflect on the AVO we just got served.

Nowadays, a click of the button and we can see who, what, when and whether the object of desire is “in a relationship” or if (fingers crossed) “it’s complicated”. Stalkbook has taken away the danger, the passion, the romance of lurking in the bushes at 6AM in the rain in the hope they might have to run outside in their silky pajamas to take the garbage out… it’s just not the same anymore.

Imagine the original love crazed stalker: Romeo creeping outside Juliet’s balcony – it wouldn’t happen like that today. More likely we’d see live tweets @montague: “where U at babe?” There’s no mystery – the immediacy of tweets & status updates is powerful and alluring – hence the popularity, but it concerns me that this has an invisible effect of removing the state of wonder that comes with not-knowing.

The state of imagining, of learning is a natural place for the human mind, but in order to most effectively manifest this way of being we must also free ourself from the junk of what we know. To put it another way – if we walk into a conversation with a conclusion already in mind, we are closed to the possibility of a new idea. I have a feeling that the tsunami of news, opinion and messages makes this process much more difficult than usual.

When you look at the majority of blogging, tweeting & social media discussion – the primary impetus for engagement is Validation. People like their opinions being counted. When you comment on a post – do you check how it looks on the screen right away? Do you smile to yourself when someone acknowledges your status update? Of course, everyone does. That’s why social media is so addictive – we all want to be validated. Case in point – President Obama – engaged with people directly, gave them a place to express themselves, they feel validated and he gets elected to the most powerful office in the world. Validation is a powerful tool.

My point is that this key motivating factor to engage in social media is contrary to the learning process. If we are seeking validation, we are unable to see past our own viewpoint and discover something new. If you’re reading this, there is a voice in your head which is seeking to rationalise this idea, agree? disagree? Everyone does it – it’s the condition of being human. You’re already framing your responses before the listening is even complete – and this, friends is the critical point of social media engagement – it’s hampering the possibility of imagining something new – the natural human tendency to apply their opinions to circumstance is actually preventing true learning.

Consider this next time you go to ‘live tweet’ during a conference or tv show or presidential address. Are you actually present and open to whatever is being explained? Or are you seeking validation by putting a loudspeaker to that inner voice which has some comment to make about what’s in front of you?

Yes. It feels good that everyone can immediately read how clever you are, but you probably just missed something crucial because you stopped to say it.

Entry filed under: Marketing.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. genevieve  |  01/11/2009 at 9:10 am

    Very thoughtful, thank you 5W.
    This is why I always agitated for a preview button on the original Sarsaparilla blog (when it was still alive). The lack of one may well be why it is now invisible, save through the National Library’s Pandora archive.
    And I’m very happy to be told I’m wrong about that, too 🙂

    • 2. anvildrops  |  03/11/2009 at 6:03 pm

      it’s a new world. i think as a culture we are only just getting to grips with this new model of communication!

      a really insightful take on why this is the turning point: The Intention Economy

  • […] mad if you don’t use social to keep yourself in the media loop and within earshot of others. As discussed in a previous post and ad nauseum elsewhere this is some powerful mojo for building audiences, tribes & ultimately […]


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VICTOR SANCZ vassanc [AT] gmail.com

since 2009

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