Micah December 17th

We Are Killing Social Media

For the past hour or so, I have tried to piece together the movie GoodFellas via YouTube and other online video clips (AnyClip is rad, by the way).

Ok, I will give you a clip. Its NSFW, but fuck you knew that!

As I watched the movie, I began to watch how folks interacted with each other. How did the characters treat each other. What mattered?
And, it became more and more clear as the movie went on. The only thing that mattered was to become a Made Man, because being a Made Man provided you a bit of protection from violence. (Watch how Jimmy and Harry, who never could be Made Men, react to the world, versus Tommy, who is clearly on the path to becoming a Made Man.)
In most professions, groups, societies, there is the concept of the untouchable.
Does that concept exist in social media?
You best bet your bottom dollar.
While becoming a Made Man doesnt require killing another person (thank god), it does require performing at least two of the following tasks:
  • Give a keynote at a major conference: SXSW, Web20, BlogWorld, etc.;
  • Write a book (not a computer book);
  • Have a blog that has tens of thousands of subscribers;
  • Been on mainstream media;
  • Be referred to with a single name;
  • Probably something I forgot.

Is that a bad thing? After all, every profession has its “Made Men.”

But social media is different. In social media, we have “ambient intimacy.” We know more (or at least think we know more) about each other than most other professions. Because we are all such friends, we gossip like teenagers, get excited when we see each other, truly wish for success (for some) and failure (for others). We view the world as “insiders vs. outsiders,” and tend to tell the same stories over and over.

Yet in all of that glorious chaos, there are a few Made Men (and they do tend to be Men). They are above the “internet famous.” They are not just bloggers (mommy or otherwise), They are not just marketers (internet or brand), they are the people that everyone attempts to emulate.

The problem with Made Men, is that they tend to react to the world as the world acts upon them. Its not a drinking of their own Kool-aide, shit, we all do that. But its a protection against mistakes. Its protection against critical thinking. Any message from a Made Man is a Good Message.

Its that lack of critical thinking that is stopping innovation in the social media space. We are now waiting for the Made Men to tell us what next. Even worse, we are waiting for the TOOLS to innovate so that we can be the first to react to the innovation.

For many reasons, we need our Made Men to help validate our industry, but we need to rely upon our own intellectual curiosity to drive the innovation necessary to propel our industry.

We need to stop relying on tool manufacturers to provide innovation. Does the carpenter wait for the hammer manufacturer to create a new hammer?

We, as an industry, have lost sight of what the value of our industry is. It is us. collectively. We are the ones that will help businesses and people reach their audiences in new and intelligent ways. We are the ones that will demand of our tools builders to build tools that truly drive us forward.

If you are in charge of social media for yourself, your company or your client, spent 10 minutes tomorrow thinking about a way that they can use social media to engage their communities in a new and innovate way. And most importantly…

Share it with everyone else.

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