Facebookification of… – the socmed schism

July 15 2015

Firstly, and let me just be very clear on this, I am not sure I have any clue about where I stand on this matter. Maybe I’ll work it out by the time I’ve finished reading these words that are appearing in front of me as I type.

Every so often, when it occurs to me, I marvel at the growing number of social media channels that have appeared and continue to appear year on year. There is seldom a couple of months go by where I don’t find a new one or get reminded of one that I had forgotten about. As more and more of these sites and apps come and go we find them targeting more specific demographics or niche usergroups. There will be dozens I may never find out about unless I really really look for them because I fall into exactly the wrong target audience, or maybe my children will introduce me to them at some point.

So I am intrigued when very reasonable, mature and seemingly socmed savvy people start to polarise about practice on one of the many and varied sites available to us which is supposed to bring us together as a network. We all understand the democratic nature of the internet, and the largely self governing aspect of social media…in that barring a few rules of society in general, we as content contributors and readers, will be the over-riding judges (voting with our clicks) to say whether something is interesting or suitable….

(How autonomous, serendipitous, naturally selective. How wonderful.)

….and yet we seem to have some very definite and opposing views and we are increasingly voicing our desire to start enforcing them. What is also amusing to me is that we are doing this by suggesting content is suitable for either one of the two societies we mostly exist in, Linkedin and Facebook, as if they are the ones that best describe how we see ourselves. Every time this is suggested I’m reminded of the end of the Homerpalooza episode;


 

Bart: Dad, what you just said was powerfully uncool.

Homer: You know what the song says: “It’s hip to be square.”

Lisa: That song is so lame.

Homer: So lame that it’s…cool?

Bart & Lisa: No.

Marge: Am I cool, kids?

Bart & Lisa: No.

Marge: Good. I’m glad. And that’s what makes me cool, not caring, right?

Bart & Lisa: No.

Marge: Well, how the hell do you be cool? I feel like we’ve tried everything here.

Homer: Wait, Marge. Maybe if you’re truly cool, you don’t need to be told you’re cool.

Bart: Well, sure you do.

Lisa: How else would you know?


 

So here we are imposing limits on others in our shared space, the most populous but ultimately least cool of the virtual spaces, and are we some how thinking it is cool to do so?

Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying I’m cool (and ultimately that’s what makes me properly mega cool yeah?). I’ll admit I’m not really into people posting lame but sort of fun and compellingly distracting quizzes, to get cheap clicks, to bolster their Linkedin profile, and so I refrain from adding any sort of comment that laments the appearance of this frivolity on my “timeline” or scalding the poster for putting it up there in the first place. There are two reasons for my gracious and superbly disciplined self control and the first is best described by my erudite colleague and friend Ethar upon us both seeing this picture posted by another cherished colleague:

and here is how Ethar responds to my stating that I don’t mind this sort of carry on…

Perfect. In my professional life my role is that of a manager. To encourage productivity I contribute by creating a conducive and supportive environment for my colleagues to work in and be productive themselves. I look after them. One principle of that is Work Life Balance. No surprise for any of us there. The way I see it, once we are done sleeping, a great proportion of us spend the most part of the rest of our lives at work and so, naturally then, we encourage the lines to be blurred. We invariably discuss life outside of work when we are in the workplace and we understand that sometimes there is a bit of give and take when it comes to fitting everything in. So why is it some of us become so uptight about this happening in the virtual world. Wasn’t it always going to imitate real life once the novelty wore of and we got really comfortable with the medium? Looking back at the picture above…it looks to me like this could very well be a professional gathering. It may well be at one of the conferences I myself attended earlier in the year where there was a lot of talk (as there always is) about the ‘Unicorns’ of the IT world (the Googles, the facebooks, et al). Conference day 1 over, let’s get changed, see you at the rooftop bar, out comes the unicorn head, click click, tweet tweet, all of a sudden there is a mythical beast sans shirt and tie on a professional networking site. ‘Bah, what nonsense!’ some are heard to say.

The second reason I am comfortable around this behaviour is that we are encouraged to do it. It is a game and the master of this game is Linkedin. Some of my lovely & beloved connections and work mates have lauded, blogged and published on the many benefits, positive effects and outright necessity of gamification, but still find themselves irked by a twee or frolicsome post entered in what they see as the wrong “forum”. Have you noticed that most of these posts have been liked by thousand and commented on by hundreds – or switch those figures round in the case of the ubiquitous “comment with the first word you see in this grid”. And ultimately that’s what the Gamesmaster wants. She tells us how many people clicked, she shows us how popular we are and she advises that if we post more or share more then we get more connections, more followers, more hits…it’s as compelling and sweetly distracting from our other work-a-day tasks as the strange algebra problem our favourite recruiter just added. She is very clever, she is somewhat manipulative, but she is fun and very useful to us also. I like her. She likes us and most importantly she wants clicks and post whether they are business, not business, likes or opinions suggesting posts should not appear here – she is the utmost egalitarian. Good for her.

So now I’ve come to the end of my typing I think I’ll come down on the side of Optimist Prime or maybe not, I think I’ll take some more time to decide. BTW That is a picture a pal of mine Mark posted on Facebook, (thanks Mark) let’s see if it is suitably professional to work on here also.

Where do you stand then, keep it pro, blur the lines? Or does it just pass you by? Share what you think below the line but do me a favour and keep it social, in the grand scheme of things is it really so important? :)