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The jet lag of socially connecting with strangers

The disillusionment of socially connecting online has taken root, as social networks have become accepted for the marketing platforms they truly are.


socially connecting


It’s a real thing, look it up. Typically it follows great hopes in something new, you fain to fall for the illusion of hype and evangelists, and you repeat the gospel word, only to realize that the gospel word may have been the truth, but that there was no good in it. There was no food at the harvest.

I discovered disillusionment with social media very early on. I am a skeptic, I am a big picture person, I know the ending of most movies – yeah, I’m that guy. As a 2007 adopter of Twitter, I believed in it’s power because I saw it first hand in real practice, in real time, completely by accident as a party formed at SXSW solely using Twitter – we were at the corner of Red River and 5th leaving a party wondering what we all should do and within 20 minutes or so, 30 people were standing with us on the same corner to join our quest, compliments of the grassroots builder, Twitter.

And I was right

I mention grassroots because that’s what Twitter was then that was different from any other platform on the planet. It was simple, easy, and everyone else could be doing the same thing as someone else with just 140 characters and a will to join in. I quietly noted to my wife at that crowded corner that Twitter will make social media a household name, so we aptly made it a very high priority on our list, and a very large part of our day to day life.

I was right – Twitter did bring social media to the world, and with that, I regressed into my own private status to enjoy the friends I made in the early days of Twitter, to escape the marketing center it is today. The real magic of socially connecting on Twitter may appear trivial from the outside, as two people chatting about potentially doing business together lacks the glamour of the Grammys, the intellectual appeal of the Arab Spring, or the camaraderie of conversation of Chavez’s death. There is measurable success on Twitter, but the visual groundswell of tweets about the Grammys only benefits advertisers, and is often misconstrued as a bigger success than the single, authentic connections made every day.

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The deck that marketers shuffle now is within what we used to call brand fans, but today they’re little more than customers or users following updates on products or services they pay for. What’s exciting about that? I’m sure there’s a gimmick no one has tried, that you will try and succeed, some would say that there’s no winning in succeeding, you really score when you f$%k up in public (rubbernecking over the lady in heels that just face planted gets more exposure than a lady who just sat down and said hello – you get my point). Click and tweet

Everyone’s a marketer

Disillusionment isn’t hard to find. Adoption is still good for decent products no one has ever seen, but enthusiasm is low, namely because users like me learned long ago that we’re all just freevertising (what the real definition should be) by evangelizing a product or startup. Further, we’ve watched products like get sold off and turned into a sh$t hole, or go public only to turn into something like the once evangelized Facebook that snatches up anything that is (now evangelized) popular that might be a nice place to plant an ad, sell your most intimate details, and become just another sh$t hole.

It’s like the exhaustion of jet lag – we’ve all seen it all, us early adopters now roll our eyes, look more deeply, see the repetitive nature of recurring ideas done re-revolutionarily by the newest ninja CEO to change the world. They’ll cling wrap themselves around any person with a popular voice and turn them into a sh$t hole too.

This is what is creating the malaise

To me, discussion about social media has always been like talking about television, or any other medium we use to broadcast or listen. The difference is that a lot of personal hours of the population make it up, supported by social networks, and now the social networks are turning into sh$t holes too.

The early adopter who evangelized the big networks now see them for what they (the networks) want to be – marketing platforms, places to plant ads, places to latch on to the late adopter for freevertising. I loathe strategists whose first sentence is “find the influencers,” because that is precisely where the path to disillusionment and social jet lag begin.

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This is what’s killing the social in social media. This is what’s creating the malaise with Facebook, Twitter and others. This is what is bringing about new ways of socially connecting at more of a distance. Instagram comes to mind, which now owned by Facebook, will soon become a sh$t hole too.

What these platforms once were are not what they are now. The inspiration is lagging. Socially connecting with strangers seems fruitless to many, and their favorite networks have lost their way to take advantage of the vicious cycle I’ve described here. Nothing can be done about it, it is what it is, and now, you probably realize that your Twitter “friend” is really just another sh$t hole too. And if you have to ask if you’re the sh$t hole friend, then I have bad news for you.

I meet authentic people online and offline every day that aren’t sh$t holes, that I truly enjoy conversing with, and more often than not, I find them to be a lot like myself – bored, disillusioned, jet lagged, and ready for the next shiny thing.

Yeah, I just said that.

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.



  1. Jon Aston

    March 6, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I remember the good old “glory days” of social media with fondness. It was exciting and fun and held such magnificent potential. It still does, perhaps, I think, maybe. But the way too many people brought (and continue to bring) their outdated push marketing mindsets and tactics online is pretty disappointing. So is the lack of creative vision by the major platforms regarding business models. Most advertising sucks.

  2. Hessie Jones

    March 6, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Bravo! Great post Benn! I read every word of this and was nodding my head in agreement along the way:) Some GM of an “ailing” platform once said to me that Social Media will die because it will never be able to monetize itself. In many ways he’s right. The purists use these tools as a utility to connect and converse. At the end of the day, revenue overrides utility. I absolutely despite Promoted Tweets and I don’t like what Facebook’s become. But they have to make money somehow and that is to the detriment of the community.

  3. Loren Nason

    March 6, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Can I get an AMEN for Benn!

    Me bored = yes
    me disallusioned = no, cuz this landscape was the eventual result
    jet lagged = sure, yes im tired of all the bullshit
    waiting for the new shiny = no, cuz all the “new, shiny” has all been rehashed of the same shart

    im tired of connecting online unless i meet first in person. with my side venture i am going out and meeting people in person .. and then maybe i might connect online

  4. Andrea Bona

    March 7, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Benn, you hit the nail on the head in describing what many of us sometimes feel about social media, but cannot always articulate. You can try and use it to your advantage or have it use you to its advantage. I don’t have time to be used, and am not always sure there are enough marketing benefits to use social media to my advantage. It is a vicious cycle, but a channel we cannot ignore.

  5. Maggie McGary

    March 7, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Just yes to all of this. And the disillusionment just builds when you work in this space because you have no choice but to participate if you want to keep your job–but you see what goes on behind the scenes and are the person promising results and influencers and all the rest of it. I despise being sold to and sold…yet I’m also one of the ones selling. Sigh….

  6. MFM

    March 25, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    i’m curious, Will syndicated content become the next sh*t hole? i can see it every day on the front page of the busiest news sites. We’ve all seen it. 7 identical headlines to the same article which isn’t even hosted on the site.

    we click and next thing you know we are off on some news channel hopping adventure and end up at KXXX NEWS 1369.323HD out of Pompadore New Guinea somewhere.

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