Monday, August 23, 2010

Social Me-dia, Splintered

Social Me-dia, Splintered has posted a pivotal, insightful analysis of the state of social media. Read it here: social-me-me-me-me-me-media.html

I cannot add anything to his message. But I also cannot hold back from echoing it in some way.

Here are some highlights:

Social media sites change, but people do not.

The driving motivation for creating, using, reading, retweeting, and joining social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Google Buzz is one human desire: the desire to feel important and interesting.

People measure success by how much attention they receive.

Yet the internet superhighway has allowed social media streams to multiply beyond quantification. The voices seeking attention vastly outnumber the the mind's ability to hear - we begin to shut down, ignore, or simply miss most of what's being shared.

Louis points out that many blog posts are getting fewer and fewer comments. Tweets get no replies. Conversations lag, photos repose unviewed.

"With so many streams flowing by and so many sources and people demanding my attention, even the strong soldiers that fatigue during battle are left behind in our own self-directed charge up the mountain."

He's reduced the number of Twitter accounts he follows. Other social networks he's also trimmed back. but inanity and disjointed conversations still make it tiresome to try to follow.

"One of the hardest things to do for anyone is to find real value amidst the noise, and the massive volume means that people can get missed."

Louis concludes by focusing on blogging as his foundation. He calls blogging a "searchable, indexable, discoverable entity with longform, permanent content, not an ephemeral short-time share that adds to the minute or the hour, but not much longer."

The "longform" quality of blogging allows permanence and authenticity. It's a history and it's about me personally, even when writing about others.

I appreciate Louis' strong encouragement for engagement. Whether on Twitter or Facebook or a blog, if I initiate a conversation, I have a responsibility to respond and engage with readers who reply.

It's a damaging addiction to base my identity and worth on counting reactions. "Top dogs get dozens or hundreds of retweets, comments and shares." If my posts go unnoticed, I feel a loss of worth and purpose.

This week for me personally has been a perfect example of this counting-reactions-addiction. I posted a how-to article on It struck a chord with the DIY crowd, and I earned a (temporary, very temporary) place on the Featured and Most Popular pages. It felt good.

But fame dissipates quickly. I did make a point of trying to respond to each comment. I subscribed to several users as a way of returning the favor of being noticed.

But the Internet Superhighway was built for speed, not settling down. The thrill is in the journey, not the destination, so those who take the exit ramp to visit me stay only a moment, and they are back on the expressway quickly, on to the next attraction.

So the writing is really just for me. Me alone. I write to make myself clearer to myself.

And that pleases me.