Neither Social Nor Media – Updated
I just reviewed the whereabouts of the first 25 users of Facebook, posted by one of my FB friends this morning. Of course they’re all associated with each other, and Mark Zuckerberg, so there’s already a certain sameness to them, plus the updates are mostly career/education related snapshots.
Still, it struck me that “we” seem to translate in a very one-dimensional way to the internet.
And by the internet, I mean social media. I hope I don’t mean blogs, but I might.
No, not might, do. I do mean blogs. There’s a sameness to “our” blogs, too.
Meanwhile, I have friends who work in social media, or rather, who use social media as a money-making tool.
Okay, a friend. I have a friend who is a professional in the use of social media.
I think. I don’t really know. To me technology is instant publication minus a writing career.
I have friends who won’t use social media, even to promote themselves professionally, because either they don’t think it works, or they don’t believe in working for free.
Okay, two friends.
One is a technology entrepreneur, the other is a writer.
Now, my friend who is involved professionally in social media makes lots of money and loves what she does. But given her focus, I’d argue that she’d make lots of money and love what she did no matter what it was. People with a certain combination of ambition and know how get themselves to where they want to be.
They are able to shut out the distractions that seemingly prevent some of us from getting anywhere at all and focus on whatever it is they need to do to get from A to B to C to D and onward and upward like that, hopping ladders to success if need be or the mood strikes.
They’re professionally successful, in other words.
Meanwhile, the technology entrepreneur, who isn’t interested in social media at all, although he runs this website, recently engaged her services. This resulted in what I would term a net positive, but it seemed to me it was mostly because it got him out and about demonstrating his product.
You know, in the real world.
The writer, meanwhile, resists. There’s something about social media, the internet, that is anathema to professional writers and there’s a very good reason for it: No one will buy what s/he can get for free.
Although my social media friend also accused my writer friend of being a writer who doesn’t want to be read. And while there may be a certain truth to that, it may be that he just doesn’t want to be read for free.
The less time versus the more time I spend perusing social media (I no longer comment on blogs or media sites or even my friend Antonia’s facebook page) the more I respect his position. Because social media is neither social nor media for most of us – it’s amateur distraction.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just wonder if I should hire my friend to get me off it so I can make some money.
Update: After giving it some more thought, I think the example of professional writers on social media is very telling – for me, at least – because I don’t read them. I read some of the commentary, although less all the time – particularly now that I don’t comment on the commentary, which was usually all that I was doing anyway and which was my only reason for reading it.
Now, my book club will be doing a book by Chris Hedges, because one of our members is interested in what he has to say. But I’ve read enough of what Chris Hedges has to say – for free – and the resultant commentary, that I doubt very much I’ll buy the book, or even take it out of the library.
I mean, there’s a Chris Hedges poster of Chris Hedgesisms that shows up on my FB page practically every other day, so I get it, almost by osmosis, at this point. I don’t need to read Chris Hedges to know what Chris Hedges has written.
What I’m getting at here, I think, is, the more of us there are writing for free on the internet, the less any one of us is worth reading. And that’s interesting because I used to believe that if it’s worth doing, you should do it for free.
Who knows, maybe instead of being the death of paid writing, social media will result in its resurrection. Because if it’s worth doing, you should be paid to do it.