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Social media going full circle

by Bruno Deshayes on 24 Nov 2016 permalink
Once upon a time you would subscribe to social media to re-connect with former co-workers, distant family members etc... in the hope of keeping the relationship alive by sharing photos and other snippets of life.

Well, now you can use social media to meet complete strangers face to face! Of course people addicted to dating sites do that all the time - but I am talking about leveraging an interesting tool to widen your horizon. MeetUp allows people to create and advertise an interest group. 3 years ago all activity seemed to be in the US. Today I found some 500+ groups in Sydney alone! What a parabolic growth!

What is refreshing about this phenomenon is that face to face contact is so much richer than online encounters. People can easily project a persona in cyberspace and they can fool you pretending to be someone they are not. I am talking about all those self-appointed marketing experts who shamelessly peddle yesterday's ideas - knowing full-well that reality has moved on.

When you are across a coffee table with somebody, you have to keep eye contact and pay attention. They share something and then it is your time to talk. You just can't press the back button and click on the next entry on your search results! You have to devote your full attention to you interlocutor or else come across as a jerk.

I have sifted through several types of groups: social groups organising activities such as sport, movie-going, bushwalking, music performances, etc... There is definitively a need for people to get a chance to re-connect after divorce, moving to a new city or other life upheavals. Other groups cater for expats or those who seek native speakers to learn a new language and culture.

Finally there are the business groups. Not everyone is a member of your local chamber of commerce or professional association. As technology and markets evolve constantly, everybody is facing the onslaught of the global village. Some international heavyweight is sure to invade your patch at some point of time. Small business owners working from home constantly need to be plugged into the grapevine and extend their sphere of influence.

With the constant decline of the printed press, companies and organisations find this an appropriate channel to advertise their cause by calling you to their cocktail parties.

So - yes, social media has gone full circle. We are human beings filled with emotions, choices and interests. We do not want to be cyberpunks spied upon by marketing trawlers. We want to be validated in our opinions and we have to re-learn how to pay attention to strangers one on one.

Paul Szilard says:
I couldn't agree more. You certainly have a gift in writing, and I think you ought to explore the possibility to get some of your articles published in the appropriate journals - and get paid for it. Well written and poignant.

Social media makes us autistic cyberpunks

by Bruno Deshayes on 24 Mar 2016 permalink
Can you survive in a world deprived of non verbal clues? Remember the smileys at the end of SMS text messages? Can you really make yourself smile, frown or giggle on demand? What is the quality of a conversation with total strangers when you can't hear the tone of their voice and read their facial expression?

The average facebook users has 250 friends - half of which they have never met face to face. Quantity will never make up for quality. If we are all crying out for purpose and significance is social media a saving grace or a total delusion?

We are made for fellowship with other human beings - that is the fabric of society. On our own we are incomplete. It's only through interaction with other fellow human beings that we can reach our full potential. Social media can become a very void popularity contest.

In the past people would entertain in their own homes. You pick-up innumerable clues about somebody by visiting their environment. Sharing a meal with someone is the basis of hospitality and fellowship. Being brave enough to be yourself in your own home and open up to new friends makes you active in your community.

Today we have become avatars in a virtual village. You can project your own personal brand in cyberspace and you will end-up a solitary lunatic clicking away from one post to another where nobody really knows you. Personal accountability goes out the window.

The sad reality though is that because half of marriages end up in divorce there is a vast supply of broken homes out there where people would rather not let you know how dysfunctional they really are. So we survive in a pretence made-up world where we decide who we want to be in the mouse clicks of others.

We only end-up hurting ourselves in not being real. Personal accountability starts where you are right now. Has it ever occurred to you that by taking the risk to be yourself you can empower others to also drop their mask and receive healing in the process?

Facebook picked up on this by providing instant messaging chat with your friends who happen to be online. But really you should go one step further and setup a video call on skype. Then you can see and hear each other. It all boils down to how you manage your time. Being unselfish is to make time for others. It shows them they are important to you. Starbucks is not in the business of selling coffee. They are selling you an environment where you can unwind and meet people - without the liquor and the gambling that prevail in pubs and bars.

They are only 24 hours in a day. Since you need to sleep 8 hours each night and work 8 hours each working day that only leaves 8 hours for yourself. If it is wasted commuting, doing errands and whatever else no wonder you feel disenfranchised. In the past people used to have writing pals. Today we maintain a clicking diary of our unfulfilled lives. Nothing wrong with that. It's good to leverage technology. But make sure that it leads to meeting real people face to face.

Bad press for social media

by Bruno Deshayes on 18 Mar 2016 permalink
As social media comes of age we start to realise that we might be getting more than we bargained for. Or is it that it only takes a few to spoil a good thing for everyone else?

Project X revisited
This disgusting movie has inspired many attempts to recreate in real life mass parties of violence, drugs, sex and debauchery. The latest incident was in the Dutch town of Haren.

The police had been on high alert after a schoolgirl posted a message inviting friends to her 16th birthday party. She forgot to mark it as a private event, prompting more than 20,000 replies. She posted the invitation on Facebook and sent it to friends, who then sent it to other friends and soon it spread like wildfire across the Internet.

Several websites sprung up referring to the party as "Project X Haren", counting down the seconds to the event and claiming 150,000 people had been invited. It also published the party's address, adding: "By all means bring some friends!"

Previous Project X parties have run riot in different parts of the world including Germany, Australia and especially the United States, where teens wrecked an unoccupied Texas home, causing damage of up to $100,000.

Why not have a sequel to the movie this time replacing youth with elderly. Imagine invitations going viral on baby boomers chat rooms. They are all converging on a secret retirement home with their mopeds and wheelchairs. Any damage caused can be blamed on Alzheimer's disease.

Sport twitters
Australian athletes had been banned from using twitter while their team lost countless medals in a bout of despair. Football players had to deal with racial slurs when they disappointed their fans. Coaches are considering monitoring their team social media profiles to coerce members into towing the party line.

Cyber bullying
At school the offenders would use these tactics:

- Spread lies and rumours about the victim
- Trick the victim into revealing personal information
- Send or forward mean text messages
- Post pictures of victim without their consent
- Pretend they are several other people online also attacking the victim

At work harassment can be malicious false postings seeking to damage their victim's earnings, employment, reputation or safety. The question of liability for harassment and character assassination is particularly important for legislative protection. The original authors of the offending material are, more often than not, not only anonymous, but untraceable. Nevertheless, abuse should consistently be brought to company staffers' attention.

Identity theft
Recently LinkedIn had to confess many of their user accounts had been compromised and asked people to change their passwords. It is not just the LinkedIn account that was at stake - people tend to use the same password over and over. All the hackers have to do is try the same email and password combination to break into your facebook, twitter and whatever accounts you might be holding online.

Does that put you off social media? Do you still believe marketing experts claiming that you need to cultivate your brand on as many channels as possible? I would welcome your comments.

anonymous says:
On the other hand the social buzz about Jill Meagher mobilized a crowd and helped speed up the police investigation.



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Bruno Deshayes

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