Social Media – is it time for a shift?

Social media started streaming onto our PC’s and into our lives in the early 90s. It gained huge following rapidly as everybody wanted everybody else to know about me, me, me (and me!) “Where can I be found, what am I looking for, who can I connect with?” became the new paradigm. Our thinking became all about ME. There is nothing wrong with that, except to say that it can lead to a very singular focused societal culture.

This maybe a bit harsh on social media, but I wanted to paint the picture as to why my question is relevant. Social Media has come a long way since early 90s, with Blogging, Vlogging, Real Time, etc. Surely it has become more sophisticated with sharing information, but even then, the essence of that is still “Me”. The more Likes I get, the happier my day turns out. I can instantly connect with 500+ people to promote my wares and whether they like it or not, the message still appears in their inbox. There is a social App for just about anything and everything, all you have to do is reach into your pocket.

What makes social media so popular? It is a relatively safe way to instantly connect and communicate with people compared to real-life. Your on-line life can be strongly filtered, or even be anonymous. But what is happening to our ability and skills to discern real-life situations with real people? Being overly singularly engaged with our mobile during the day, separates us from the notion what is really going on around us. How is it affecting our thinking and our emotions? Are we losing the ability to connect in more meaningful ways and do we know how to create trusting relationships with others? Perhaps it offers an easy way out to dealing with conflict and facing someone eye to eye?

It is my opinion that if social media is evolving to be the ultimate communications tool of the future, for business and personal use, it needs to create a greater purpose beyond the “Me” culture towards a “We” focused culture. As I said earlier, there is nothing wrong with a strong “I” but wouldn’t it be more satisfying for it to flourish in a We world?

Back to my question about Social MEdia, is it time for a shift? Is it time for us to start thinking what role we really want it to fulfill? I was recently watching two mixologists making wonderful cocktails. I asked these “artists” to pose for a photo to impress my kids and I promised I would share on FaceBook to get more publicity for their newly opened bar. To my surprise this was received with a lukewarm response “we are not so keen on this social media thing, it is not about us, it is about our cocktails and the entertainment”. In a flash we created Social WEdia! Ok perhaps it’s all a play on words and a clever pun, but maybe, just maybe, a shift from the term Social Media to Social Wedia might start to shift our creative consciousness in how to truly connect, even co-create and engage in more meaningful ways to embrace the unavoidable online world.

Words, language and expressions all create meaning in our life, create worlds. Smart phones don’t.

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Anna Harper