Social Media Climbers Make Us Anti-Social Media
The Big Bang Theory suggests that the universe was once this big, jagunza, hot blob of gas that exploded, breaking off into smaller blobs forming our galaxies, planets and the friggen dawn of time. Clearly, I am not a scientist so if you don’t believe me then rent Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life for a way too-long lesson on the Big Bang starring Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain. Today, however, I would like to draw a comparison from the Big Bang of the world to the Big Bang of the Blogosphere, that other mass of hot air. The blogosphere has exploded and formed drillions of smaller blogs that, like real planets, are made up of hot air and gas. These newly formed mini-worlds comprise what we now call the “social media landscape” and there seems to be no end in site to the ever expanding universe of talking/writing/video heads. This exciting, new landscape compels us to visit many of these new places and we have become immersed in a world that theoretically does not exist.
We are like astronauts getting beamed up (Scottie) from site to site at the click of a button as opposed to Dorothy’s method of space travel–clicking her heels–which has become obsolete. We get exposed to all sorts of ideas, products, scary opinions, flash sales and mysterious monsters that spew venom a.k.a. bloviators. (NOTE: Since I am one of those blogs that welcomes you lovely astronauts to read my I Mean What, I am guilty as charged.) Many of these sites now have sponsors or worse, e-commerce components and are desperately trying to sell you something… anything. More often they require us to sign up and reveal our personal information that gets sold off to other sites. Before you know it, we are hurling out of space and have not even left our desks. The social media landscape has become overpopulated with social media climbers desperate to get an ROI (Return On Investment), perhaps the scariest new term on Earth. We are bombarded with an overabundance of blatant marketing speak and some of these sites need to polish up their social media graces.
What started out as pure innocent fun–rating chicks on college campuses–has mushroom-clouded into a serious business or more accurately, a massive, mishmash of mass-marketing mush. Sprinkle that with a plethora of celebrities spewing pearls of their newly acquired wisdom leaving us with a mosh-pit of “visual white noise”. Our in-boxes are stuffed with promotional opportunities, must-haves, pictures of C-List celebrities wearing Designer X on a red carpet, and news flashes that feature nothing new. We are just now beginning to see the backlash to this forced fed frenzy of fotz. As Facebook and Twitter morph into one long ad roll, few can be trusted to speak the truth since every blog is cautiously and optimistically romancing potential advertisers. Either that, or we have brands desperately trying to get you to “LIKE” them in the hopes you will “click here” to purchase a twin set. Seriously, what’s more annoying than the rash of sneaker spammers on Facebook or those random unknown nudniks who beg you LIKE them, as would a “virtual Sally Field”.
Remember when the internet created a much-needed sense of community and we became a valued Unique Visitor? Now we have been reduced to a statistic that is valued only whether or not we shop. Surely we are no longer unique. All this activity is spiraling to the point where some of us are distrustful and uncomfortable with the blogosphere. This has created a new psychosis that psychiatrists might call anti-social media behavior. There’s a group of tech geeks and savvy marketers who are busy trying to create alternative universes–free of advertisers–for people like us who love socializing vis-à-vis social media but don’t want to be identified by their recent purchase of an “It” bag. (“People who like this also like that”, you know the drill.) Perhaps one day such a place will exist, a place where you are no longer just a number with a capacity to purchase an item, any item. There are websites like App.net, Airtime and Slang Who, all in Beta Testing, that want to capture this new breed of anti-social media behaviorists and take us to the virtual Promised Land.