The great thing about the proliferation of social media involves how much more connected we feel as humans. We are, after all, social animals. We share photos of our children, updates about how we’re feeling, and funny cat videos. Social media works, not because of the technology involved (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) but because of our innate desire to share things amongst each other.
Why is this important to understand? Because social media has changed many of us in very fundamental ways. Because we feel safe behind the polished glass of our computers, we are now more likely to share things online than we ever would offline. How many times have you shared a photo you snapped off your mobile phone within seconds of it being taken? Did you know that embedded within that photo’s metadata are GPS coordinates of the exact location where the photo was taken? The barriers of entry into the online social world are so low now that we don’t take the time to adequately think through what we’re sharing and what consequences that sharing could bring.
Within the past year, I have seen a massive shift in the consumption and broadcast habits of people who use social media. A random scroll through my Twitter stream reveals fewer genuine conversations between people and more headlines, marketing spam, and people talking loudly for no particular reason. The great echo chamber of social media seems to be getting quieter. I think this is because, to some degree, the novelty of the instant share reflex has finally worn off. People are waking up to the reality of all that social media data they have strewn about them on the internet, and realizing the unforeseen second-order effects of their actions. Who can remember everything they’ve said or shared for the past several years? Was any of it damning personally? Did any of that content pose a risk to the poster’s security, whether familial or otherwise?
We are finally beginning to ask these questions of each other instead of blindly vomiting new photos of the last time your buddy got drunk and wet his britches. This is a good thing. Our great experimental phase with social media is over, and we’re all finally asking ourselves why we care about this great big social media enterprise. Why are you friends with your boss on Facebook? Are you really friends or did that connection just happen? Why not connect with them on LinkedIn instead, which is much better suited to professional relationships (and less risky in case you do have that photo album full of vomit fails)? Have we diluted the once sacred definition of “friend” to a meaningless click reflex?
Ask yourselves these questions before the next time you tweet. Even the ambient sounds of tweeting birds soothe for a time until their noise grows into cacophony.
Written By Chris Dufour
Chris Dufour is Director of Operations at White Canvas Group, an Alexandria, VA-based technology and training firm. He has trained hundreds of marketers, executives, and military personnel in social media marketing, digital influence, geosocial marketing, cybersecurity, reputation management, and strategic campaign planning. For more on WCG’s SEcureCog course in integrated cybersecurity, visit https://whitecanvasgroup.com.