More substance please

Jupiter by Cassini Hyugens

It struck me how insubstantial so much social media activity was last year (and probably has been for a while). Brands responding on social media have generally over-promised and under-delivered. We saw lots of new jargon and little substance to go with it. Where was the real?

One of the things I am hoping for this year is more substance in our digital interactions. I don’t know about you but I am not even remotely satisfied with pretentious, self-indulgent social media gurus who stand around in whatever a gender-neutral version of a circle jerk is. I left 2013 with a strong sense that, for the most part, the bigger players in the local scene attracted and maintained larger obsequious followings for no real reason other than their increasing social gravity. They attracted followers, their influence grew, they were showered with more attention and attracted more followers. In the meantime they have about as much substance as Jupiter, one of the gas giants in our humble solar system. Where is the substance?

I don’t think the problem is that we didn’t see any authenticity in 2013. We saw some authenticity. What we lacked was authenticity built on substance. We focus so much on our digital interactions on Twitter (primarily) that we lost touch with each other. Sure, we were connected but how meaningful were those interactions? How many “friends” do you have on Facebook? How many of them do you actually know? I found myself going through my Facebook friends list in December and I realised I didn’t know a number of people and many of the people I had friended are strangers to me. Even worse, because I had so many Facebook “friends”, my News Feed was doing a poor job presenting me with updates from my actual friends and people who I really want to get to know better.

My Twitter feed also had a trim. I followed so many people I wasn’t all that interested in and started paring that list down to people who I really want to engage with and follow because their contributions are meaningful. Same story with my feeds.

I’m hoping for more substance from the people I encounter this year and intend giving my limited attention to more meaningful interactions. Giving attention to the gas giants in our community may seem like a good idea because you get to orbit the biggest objects in the system but you are ultimately just spinning around a lot of swirling colours while the real value is taking shape elsewhere.

As for me, I intend adding something more meaningful to the mix. Its too easy to fixate on stuff that doesn’t amount to much in any real terms and to forget the work and people who do mean a lot. Hopefully I’ll resist the urge to fill up with hot air just to get attention in 2014. There was far too much of that happening in 2013 and we don’t need more of that this year.





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