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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.

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Disillusionment

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 Card.ly 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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6 Comments

6 Comments

  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

Facebook fights falsehoods (it’s a false flag)

(EDITORIAL) Facebook has chosen Reuters to monitor its site for false information, but what can one company really do, and why would Facebook only pick one?

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So Facebook has finally taken a step to making sure fake news doesn’t get spread on it’s platform. Like many a decision from them though, they haven’t been thorough with their venture.

I am a scientifically driven person, I want facts, figures, and evidence to determine what is reality. Technology is a double edged sword in this arena; sure having a camera on every device any person can hold makes it easy to film events, but deepfakes have made even video more questionable.

Many social media platforms have tried to ban deepfakes but others have actually encouraged it. “I’ll believe it when I see it” was the rally cry for the skeptical, but now it doesn’t mean anything. Altering video in realistic ways has destroyed the credibility of the medium, we have to question even what we see with our eyes.

The expansion of the internet has created a tighter communication net for all of humanity to share, but when specific groups want to sway everyone else there isn’t a lot stopping them if they shout louder than the rest.

With the use of bots, and knowing the specifics of a group you want to sway, it’s easy to spread a lie as truth. Considering how much information is known about almost any user on any social media platform, it’s easy to pick targets that don’t question what they see online.

Facebook has been the worst offender in knowing consumer data and what they do with that data. Even if you never post anything political, they know what your affiliation is. If you want to delete that information, it’s hidden in advertising customization.

Part of me is thrilled that Facebook has decided to try and stand against this spread of misinformation, but how they pursued this goal is anything but complete and foolproof.

Reuters is the news organization that Facebook has chosen to fact check the massive amount of posts, photos, and videos that show up on their platform everyday. It makes sense to grab a news organization to verify facts compared to “alternative facts”.

A big problem I have with this is that Reuters is a company, companies exist to make money. Lies sell better than truths. Ask 2007 banks how well lies sell, ask Enron how that business plan worked out, ask the actors from Game of Thrones about that last season.

Since Reuters is a company, some other bigger company could come along, buy them, and change everything, or put in people who let things slide. Even Captain America recognizes this process. “It’s run by people with agendas, and agendas change.” This could either begin pushing falsehoods into Facebook, or destroy Reuters credibility, and bite Facebook in the ass.

If some large group wants to spread misinformation, but can’t do it themselves, why wouldn’t they go after the number one place that people share information?

I really question if Reuters can handle the amount of information flowing through Facebook, remember almost a 3rd of the whole world uses Facebook. 2.45 Billion people will be checked by 25,800 employees at Reuters? I can appreciate their effort, but they will fail.

Why did Facebook only tag one company to handle this monumental task? If you know that many people are using your platform, and such a limited number of people work for the company you tasked with guarding the users, why wouldn’t you tag a dozen companies to tackle that nigh insurmountable number of users?

I think it’s because Facebook just needs that first headline “Facebook fights falsehoods”. That one line gets spread around but the rest of the story is ignored, or not thought about at all. If there is anything Facebook has learned about the spread of fake information on their platform, it’s how to spread it better.

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Opinion Editorials

Will shopping for that luxury item actually lower your quality of life?

(EDITORIAL) Want to buy yourself a pick-me-up? Have you thought of all the ramifications of that purchase? Try to avoid splurging on it.

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shopping bags

In an era of “treat-yo-self,” the urge to splurge is real. It doesn’t help that shopping – or what ends up being closer to impulse shopping – provides us with a hit of dopamine and a fleeting sense of control. Whether your life feels like it’s going downhill or you’ve just had a bad day, buying something you want (or think you want) can seem like an easy fix.

Unfortunately, it might not be so great when it comes to long-term happiness.

As you might have already guessed, purchasing new goods doesn’t fall in line with the minimalism trend that’s been sweeping the globe. Being saddled with a bunch of stuff you don’t need (and don’t even like!) is sure to make your mood dip, especially if the clutter makes it harder to concentrate. Plus, if you’ve got a real spending problem, the ache in your wallet is sure to manifest.

If that seems depressing, I’ve got even more bad news. Researchers at Harvard and Boston College have found yet another way spending can make us more unhappy in the long run: imposter syndrome. It’s that feeling you get when it seems like you’re not as good as your peers and they just haven’t caught on yet. This insecurity often arises in competitive careers, academics and, apparently, shopping.

Now, there’s one big caveat to this idea that purchasing goods will make you feel inferior: it really only applies to luxury goods. I’m talking about things like a Louis Vuitton purse, a top of the line Mercedes Benz, a cast iron skillet from Williams Sonoma (or is that one just me?). The point is, the study found that about 67% of people – regardless of their income – believed their purchase was inauthentic to their “true self.”

And this imposter syndrome even existed when the luxury items were bought on sale.

Does this mean you should avoid making a nice purchase you’ve been saving up for? Not necessarily. One researcher at Cambridge found that people were more likely to report happiness for purchases that fit their personalities. Basically, a die-hard golfer is going to enjoy a new club more than someone who bought the same golf club to try to keep up with their co-workers.

Moral of the story: maybe don’t impulse buy a fancy new Apple watch. Waiting to see if it’s something you really want can save your budget…and your overall happiness.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer got you down? Does it make your job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment without budget worries.

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better equipment, better work

Aside from bringing the boss coffee and donuts for a month before asking, 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 StackExchange.com 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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