Once again, I must qualify this post with a disclaimer: I create social media. At times, what I create is quite good, and I enjoy the process. I also enjoy the community aspect of social media.
There’s a LOT of fluff and very little substance to social media (so far), and that extends to the way in which we frame our arguments. So, if at all possible, I’d be extremely pleased if I never had to hear the following statements again:
1. "___ is a rockstar."
Sooner or later, everyone who creates new media and impresses someone ELSE who creates new media is knighted on that other person’s blog or Twitter as being "a rockstar."
Do you wonder why the idea of celebrity is dead? It’s because a guy with a microphone in his attic is referred to as "a rockstar" by the 7 people who listen to him.
If the Sandwich Artist at your local Subway doesn’t know who "___" is, that person is not a rockstar.
2. "Many people around the world are supporting ___ by doing ___ today."
In today’s case, Beth Kanter (who does great and noble work, mind you) filled in the blanks with: "Many people around the world are supporting the Monks in Burma by wearing red t-shirts today."
Sorry folks, but supporting "X" means calling your senator, or volunteering with a charity, or taking to the streets in impassioned protest. It’s not finding a red t-shirt in your laundry pile and walking to 7-11 for a Sprite.
Can we stop confusing the appearance of activity with activity itself?
3. "Scoble___"or "i___"
As the biggest rockstar of them all, it seems blogger Robert Scoble is capable of having nouns, verbs and adjectives ascribed to him. Robert may (or may not) be a nice guy, deserving of all the fanfare alloted him by his acolytes.
But whether he is or not is actually beside the point, which is (once again): if the person laying pickles on my veggie sub doesn’t know who he is, I sincerely doubt they’ll know if they’ve been "Scobleized" or not…
Likewise, every time you arbitrarily add an "i" in front of a common noun or verb, an angel falls screaming from heaven.
4. "The power of community…"
Yes, community is important. Yes, there is power in community. And yes, it’s safe to say that very little in life has ever been accomplished without the combined efforts of multiple, dedicated people.
But if we who create social media keep deluding ourselves into believing that this phantom notion of "community" will somehow "save the day," we’re sorely mistaken.
Community is fun. Community is free. Community is empowering and rewarding and comforting and enviable and safe. But community alone does not validate the existence of something when contrasted to The Bigger Picture. Community is a by-product or a means toward something successful, not an end unto itself.
Doubt me? Ask your audience to pay your rent this month.
5. "I don’t need to monetize ___ to justify it."
Yes. Yes you do.
If you’re blogging, and thousands of people are reading, but you’re not profiting from that, you’re wasting your time.
If you’re creating a podcast that has a rabid following and zero income, you’re wasting your time.
If the creation of your podcast / blog / website / widget / etc. costs you even one penny more than it brings in, you’re wasting your time.
I don’t want to hear about how the "power of community" is justification enough. I don’t want to hear about how "monetizing is missing the point." And I certainly don’t want to hear ANYONE say, "I’m just going to tread water a little longer because I KNOW success is right around the corner."
Success doesn’t find you; you find it. There are exceptions to that rule, but basing your financial, mental and emotional wellbeing on becoming an exception to a rule is possibly the least intelligent course of action you could take — especially if the rule you’re flouting is "make money to survive."
Until the vast majority of us who create social media, and who comprise the larger "community" associated with it, can get beyond the puppy love stage of attraction to this medium and begin producing content that both matters AND generates revenue, the fishbowl is in no danger of being assimilated.
Nor are we in danger of actually becoming rockstars…