Despite the nature (and brute power) of the social media beast to propagate at break-neck speed, the onus remains on us to filter through the barrage of information.
To benefit from the ubiquitous advantage of real-time access to information, we must be able to make sense of it all; and do so ideally, at the same speed in which it comes to us, or as efficiently as we can, at best.
I won’t delve into the how, since many of us who practice, experiment, preach, advocate, etc. social media, have our own way of making the experience unique and sustainable, depending on our goals.
Instead, I’d like to flesh out four large thorns, which, in my view, will remain and continue to dominate the landscape, influencing how social media is perceived externally by skeptics and internally by the converted.
I call these ‘thorns’ not because I think they are there to wilfully harm our experience, but more because they are blatant annoyances that distract us from the bigger picture. Their distractive quality is so deeply embedded in social media culture that little can be done to change it. Hence, I have no choice but to filter them out.
When I see someone blast a series of tweets on the same subject, it not only clogs up the information stream, but the value of the subject itself diminishes with repetition.
For instance, how many times can you create a different angle on branding and repackage it a thousand ways to be to able brand everything but the kitchen sink?
If we refrained from repeating ourselves, do we increase or decrease the opportunities to innovate?
It would be hypocritical to deny that money is not part of the social media equation.
However, one would hope that the efforts towards building global awareness are more highly valued over obvious, materialistic goals, which to me are ultimately petty and base.
Can social media show us the profound value of higher pursuits such as learning, science and technology over that of material gains?
The human ego is a remarkable force. Carl Jung refers to the ego as “a complex of ideas which constitutes the centre of [the] field of consciousness and appears to possess a high degree of continuity and identity.”
This consciousness is what drives us to continually heighten our level of awareness. And in most cases, we are unable to accomplish anything without its driving force. Are we using this force to contribute to the collective good or to feed our own self-centered needs? Can we get away with both?
Swine flu. The term alone conjures up hysteria on a disproportionately enormous scale. Yet, it is normal for us to fear the unknown and react with panic when we are presented with the possibility of a threat. And we react accordingly with caution and vigilance.
However, does the fact that we now have instant access to online resources that report on this crisis position us to be better prepared to manage a potentially lethal outbreak? Or do we aggravate the situation by spinning it out of control?
Are we naturally prone to wallow in fear and develop paranoid tendencies that eventually prove counter-productive? Are we driven by curiosity or fear?
Back to the Gold Rush
I’ve always likened the evolution of social media to a journey of awareness. While the path may be thorny, the promise of an enlightened destination is worth the bombardment of distractions along the way. Maybe I’ll see you there.
You may just find me by the banks of the stream with my rusty pan sifting through endless sediments of information just to capture the nuggets that matter.