One of the lines in the Bush song, “Everything Zen” says there’s no sex in your violence.
I’ve been thinking that a lot while watching the content that people have been posting to Google+, except the version I’ve been thinking is that there’s no social in your media.
One of the opportunities we have online is to demonstrate how similar we are to each other. That’s a valid and worthwhile pursuit, but at the same time, you want to show how different you are as well.
This isn’t so obvious in the world of Twitter, for instance.. You can only be so creative with 140 characters. Adding the incessant flood of Twitter posts into the equation, it’s very easy for people not to notice that they’re all posting the exact same thing.
Nobody’s actually checking to see if the shortlink they posted is the same one that was posted 10 minutes ago, which is the same one that was posted 20 minutes ago, which is the same one that was posted 23 minutes ago, which is the same one that was posted an hour ago, which is the same one that was posted yesterday and the day before that.
Welcome To The New World, Neo
On Google+, this is painfully obvious, as you look at your stream (or a particular circle you’re browsing) and you see the exact same bird shove the exact same OTHER BIRD into the garbage can in an animated .GIF file. (if you don’t know what that is, it’s basically a very short, embeddable movie with no audio).
Not only are these things regurgitated 24 hours a day, but they’re posted verbatim. There is ZERO value added by the poster to the viewer’s experience of seeing the bird kick the other bird off the ledge again.
I found this behavior relatively strange, until I read a reply from reader “Hakim” the other day, who likened the phenomenon to those early-morning joke emails people used to send out before they discovered Facebook and Twitter… or even MYSPACE, for that matter! :P
Thinking about it that way, at least it makes sense at the lowest common denominator of being social. “Oh.. That’s a funny movie of the bird kicking the other bird into the trash.. Let me share it with my friends, so they can get the same laugh I did! :D”
Sometimes, that style backfires on you, though, and you end up telling a joke several days after it already made its rounds, so now, not only do you NOT look original, but you simultaneously look neither CURRENT nor RELEVANT.
If that’s not your goal, however.. being memorable.. then, what *I’M* currently saying to you ISN’T RELEVANT! :D
I suppose the question is whether you want to be a news-MAKER or a news-REPORTER.
There are people who make entire blogs and entire web shows (and entire television shows) out of being reporters. That’s their job. It’s what they do for a living… What’s *YOUR* benefit in being a reporter? o_O
Mind you, I’m not talking about a journalist.. Someone that actually writes down their own opinion about something or at least researches a topic to write an article… Like, what’s your WIN in being the 31st person to repost the bird-kicking .gif?
Is it just that it’s easy to do and doesn’t require you to think or type? o_O How about next time you’re thinking about reposting a funny movie, instead, you just type “Happy [Monday], Everybody! :D”?
How about that?.. It probably takes just as long as sending the picture, and you can send out a personal message to people that distinguishes you from the rest of the picture-posters.
Is it better to be someone submerged in a crowd or someone that stands out in a crowd?
ok.. So you insist on posting pictures as a demonstration of your ability to socialize… How about posting DIFFERENT pictures?… Why not start posting pictures of your pet lizard? People would notice you, then. There would be like 80,000,000,000 cat pictures and then your *ONE* picture of a cute lizard. You can even type something cutesy on the picture, like “I CAN HAZ CHAMELEON? :P”
So let’s say you take one step forward and start posting links to articles. That’s nice. How’s about now you add your own opinion before you press “Send”? Did you read the article yourself? Did you get anything out of it? Did it make you think? Why not share what you thought about with your readers so you can distinguish yourself as a thinker?… perhaps, even… a READER!!! :O
I mean, seriously, folks.. What do you think would happen IRL (in real life) if you walked up to someone at a party, you both smiled at each other and then you traded showing each other cat pictures on your smarphones instead of actually saying anything to each other? haha First of all, you’d get kicked out of the party for being weirdos. Second, you’d walk away from that exchange feeling all warm and fuzzy from all the cats you just saw and shared, but you wouldn’t have any new and valuable information about the person you SUPPOSEDLY just socialized with, and they wouldn’t know anything new or useful about you, either.
At least, those old-ass email jokes are something you might actually have said to someone when you ran into them at the water cooler at your job, or if you got stuck in an elevator with them.
In fact, what you would do if you ran into someone at a party is you would SPEAK. TO. THEM., because that’s how humans roll.
Even if you have nothing to say off the bat, SOME of your friends and acquaintances are posting how they feel about things or talking about something they liked or disliked. Why not jump in on one of those conversations? Let them know you agree or disagree and take your chances on building or destroying a relationship with them. At the end of the day, you might have more or fewer friends than you had this morning, but even if you’re losing, you’re at least INVOLVED in the game. :)
The Business Of Social?
This advice would also come in handy for businesspeople. Feel free to actually have a.. Well.. Feel free to at least FAKE having a real conversation with someone about something so that every time you open your mouth, people don’t go “Here comes that shill again, trying to convince me of something that’s in *their* best interest. :/”
How about selecting a customer at random and beginning a dialogue with them?.. Can’t do that much? How about commenting on a post they wrote or linked or a picture they shared of their son in the football game? How about doing *ANYTHING* that might POSSIBLY, REMOTELY be perceived as SOCIAL instead of acting like a hunter in a target-rich environment?
I can’t ask the pictures-at-a-party question to shills, because, yes… YES, they WOULD come up to you at a party and have NOTHING to say to you except things that benefit their business or company. I met a gal at a birthday party.. a BIRTHDAY PARTY, that told me to my face that the only reason she was there was to meet people that might be useful in helping her promote her book.
She didn’t say more than that, but she was basically like “**** the birthday-person.. I’m not here to celebrate jack-****. I’m here to make some business contacts and be out.
If that actually works for your company (and your social life), more power to ya. :) Good Luck with that! :D
The way I see it, there are only so many hours in each day. You can spend your time being regular, or you can attempt to stand out in the crowd. You can play it safe with the number of “friends” you currently have, or you can take a chance by selecting what’s behind curtain #3.
I’ve already met some new and interesting people on Google+.. Either because they stepped out in front of the crowd, or because I did.
This is your opportunity to be creative and progressive. You’re no longer limited to 140 characters, although I already see some people that wish they were, so they could continue to act like their creativity is being stifled by the designated Twitter limitations, when, in fact, it’s the other way around and Twitter makes them look good, while Google+ exposes their true limitations by removing their restrictions.
If you’re going to take that 20 seconds to find and post an animated .gif, why not skip that and instead, take 40 seconds to come up with a short, original, thoughtful statement or question that might make you THE NEWS instead of THE NEWSCASTER? :D
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