By far the best thing about social media is the many cool people I have “met.” My friend Benjamin Daniel, a Jules cheerleader across many social media platforms, is thoughtful when it comes to examining PR and Communications issues and has a wonderful grasp of the English language (and he’s not afraid to use it.) I fear that I got him started in thinking about all that is unsocial in social media. Read on to find out if you are a social media Jock or destined to be a Geek.
Guest post by Benjamin Daniel
Freshman year in high school was interesting. While not exactly a social outcast, I didn’t quite have the cachet necessary to invade the upper social echelons of the cafeteria. I definitely earned entrée to the geek fringe; I thought building radios from kits purchased at Radio Shack was how every American boy spent their free time. I couldn’t quite muster the self-interest and sartorial splendor necessary to stage a raid on the beautiful people/jock/socially competent section, however. I later learned that high school wasn’t really a table-setter; people can be whomever they decide to be. It appears I was destined for geekdom.
Similarly, social media have, in some instances, established and grown a pecking order. The cool people (all 500+ million of them), initially fans of MySpace (still around, by the way) use Facebook. Amateurs blog using Blogger while the serious users have all gone over to WordPress (think Apple versus Linux/Unix/whatever programming language or operating system has a devoted and extraordinarily technical following). Indies use Tumblr. Twitter is everyone’s favorite microblogging tool, the guitar-playing high school tennis prodigy who managed to be Student Body president, prom king and to get accepted to all of the Ivy League schools to which he applied. The serious-minded professionals, those people voted “Most Likely To Crash and Burn a Savings and Loan”, migrated to Linked In. Linked In, ostensibly a forum in which to network, build business contacts, develop meaningful relationships designed to increase users’ business prospects, search for work and commune with like-minded individuals with specific business interests has, in some cases, moved on to the cool part of the cafeteria.
People are on Linked In squabbling over the appropriateness of certain forms of behavior. They’re up in arms that a physics geek stumbled into the cool corner of the cafeteria. They’re telling people posting in certain forums to keep their blog posts, requests for business contacts, ideas, self-published books and sad-sack stories about having lost a job after 25 years of dutiful service to themselves. I’m sorry, but isn’t this the point? Aren’t Linked In users supposed to offer assistance via their contacts and the folks in their networks? It’s silly that some Linked In groups are excluding folks or otherwise ostracizing users who won’t hew to a completely arbitrary company line. Like Gleeks under slushie and snark attack from the jocks and cheerleaders.
I spoke to a woman I’ll call Mary. She’d contacted me about a technical issue related to using one of Linked In’s online storage tools (they’ve partnered with Huddle Workspaces and box.net to offer online storage to Linked In users) to post items for others to view, edit and download. She was frustrated that some folks thought it inappropriate to ask after business contacts able to help with her job search, deeming such requests for information “inappropriate”. She said, “People are talking about their dogs, cats, costumes and dinner dates but I can’t get a piece of contact information?” Or something like that.
Look, I’m all for moderation. There are advantages to a group ensuring its members exhibit appropriate behavior. But when social (media) norms involve metaphorically tossing geeks and social misfits into cafeteria trashcans, something’s gone wrong.
Lend Linked In users a hand, folks. It could be you that needs help with Algebra next.