Confessions of a social media sinner: The altar call

26 Aug

Just like institutions that preach a certain way over another through age old rhetoric, telling us when to stand, where to sit, how to fall and what to eat, the new church of social media bolsters not just one saviour, but many who preach their messages to the masses. In most cases, it seems, the only ones listening are the self-proclaimed gurus of digital engagement themselves (even if they claim not to be ‘experts’). It’s a meritocracy defined by online presence and followers, everyone chiming in with buzz words that speak social media authority; ‘thought leadership,’ ‘return on engagement,’ ‘emerging media’. Not to mention the onslaught of microblog ease:

@marky603 hiccup curing water stand samples#YVR http://budURL.xvqt.

Its no wonder a rationalizing well adjusted person feels apprehensive and averted to engage in this ‘changing media landscape’. IT’S CRAZY TALK!

I’m not saying the knowledge isn’t credible, in most cases its valid, tested and applicable. These people are contributing to a growing canon of shared and accessible information, but the problem isn’t knowledge. The problem with social media is content saturation and relevancy. While more communication tools are available to anyone with a laptop and wifi, managing the new terms of communication is tedious, time consuming and in many instances fruitless (consider this blog post for instance). For the first time we have too much access, too much choice and too much to say. So where does that leave us?

a) The technology is foreign thereby negligible
b) The abundance of information is overwhelming and exhaustive
c) The platforms are in constant flux and hard to commit to/understand

But in my aversion to microblogging, status updates and location check-ins, I’ve been forced to look underneath social media to fortify my opinion. What I found surprised me… somewhere along the line between the endless streams of shameless self-promotion and the barrage of direct Twitter messages I missed the utility of social media. Social media is a tool, and that’s very important to understand.

We create the tools, but it’s the tools that create the world around us. Social media, like all media, is shaping the world we live in, whether we’ve asked for it or not.

Everything changed from that point. After learning how to leverage a few simple tools (and I mean simple) I started aggregating and organizing all of the content that interests me. I stream refined lists, share media and make appointments all from one platform. All of a sudden I was more informed, more engaged and less hesitant. Sure, the exhibitionists will always shout, but their voices never carry very far.

At this late in the game, it’s easy to throw up your hands and let social media run away on you, but the truth is the technology gets more intuitive by the day and participating online is easier than ever before.

This is your social media altar call, what do you have to say?

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