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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.

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.

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.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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  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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Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.



strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.




It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer slowing you down? Does it make a simple job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment to improve your productivity.



better equipment, better work

What is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes.

In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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