Thou shalt not: The Ten Commandments of Social Media (2)

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[Part 1]

In the last blog, I was pondering why there was such a reaction amongst social media experts when Wetherspoon’s chain of pubs shut down all it’s social media. I concluded that if a business takes to advertising itself on social media, then it should do so with a goal of being joyful, so that joy can be a reward in and of itself. Otherwise they might not be rewarded at all.

It seems to be that we all have this rule of life in business, in self-help, in spirituality, in dieting, in relationships, in health which is:

If you do the right thing you will be rewarded.

It is a fallacy. People with experience and wisdom can tell you what what worked for them, but they cannot guarantee that it will work for you. There is no fool proof way of getting the desired result.

Social media has only been around for about 10 years. I like the way people are describing it as the biggest social experiment in history but honestly, who knows if it is? In all the blogs and articles I read in which social media experts put forward their opinions on Wetherspoon, each had the same four points:

  1. It was a big mistake and there will be consequences.
  2. The reason they weren’t more successful was that they were doing it wrong.
  3. The CEO/owner’s decision seemed to be based more on personal opinion than on proper analysis, and thus, implied it had to be wrong.
  4. We’ll all have to wait and see what the impact, if there is any, will be.

These four points are so generic as to be useless and not worth the effort of the breath it took to utter them. I’ve heard them all before applied to many areas of life such as religion, self-help, business success, diets and fitness, health, etc.

People are unique so one size doesn’t fit all and people have almost killed themselves following rules which are not good for them.

We all love rules and theories to win, like game theory and how to write a bestseller and all the other how-to’s.  We have a hankering for order and for a reduction in uncertainty. This is because from birth we are conditioned to follow a lot of rules. We are also conditioned at school to compete as we believe that there is never enough to go around and there has to be a winner who takes all, losers and underdogs.

In the last blog I compared social media experts to the CofE because it struck me that social media experts are wandering around like the people in Deuteronomy trying to make order out of chaos by making up rules about what to eat with what and which cloth should be woven with another. The social media peeps are have rules about what to tweet and which facebook ads to buy. They are trying to make order out of the chaos of social media. They don’t know how it works really, no one does, in the same way we don’t know the reason for life, but we all want to make it manageable and have some control over what is happening.

For some followers their advice might be useful, for others it might be a complete soul sucking waste of time. To paraphrase, Iyanla Vanzant in a brilliant talk on the Hay House World Summit 2018, you can rub the Torah on your head for five years or read all the psalms (or tweet til the cows come home) it doesn’t mean you will gain enlightenment. And, by that I am using the Buddhist definition of knowing yourself and what is best for you and your business/health/spiritual practice. Just ‘cos an ‘expert’ said to do it, doesn’t mean it’s what you need.

I’ve already said that I think we take a lot of our patriarchal and bad behaviour online. I said it about women  viewed as objects and also about trolling and flaming. It seems that social media marketing has taken all it knows about what to do in the physical world and plonked that online too and called it the connection economy, just an empty fancy word for marketing. And, why do we believe that they know what they are talking about? Because we are so afraid of not getting our rewards. And we are afraid of missing out.

I can count on one hand people I know who have a genuine interest in other people and who listen and hear what other people say for no other purpose than to know all about them. It is powerful and captivating to be in the presence of these people. It is a special, dare I say sacred, experience.

And yet, in business active listening an ersatz version is taught so that people can pretend to listen and sneak in their (nearly always economic) agenda, which leave us feeling had, a lot like a  lot of social media marketing. All those ads in the space where people were just being social for no other reason than joy of connection. And, we’ve all see the articles: How to sell yourself without feeling grubby, and the one that gets me every time which is Be authentic, which doesn’t mean that at all, it is a sort of doublespeak about how to effectively spam people online with stuff they don’t want and get them to buy it.  There is nothing authentic about getting people to do stuff you want them to do regardless of what they want.

I love a bit of social media – the medium is the message – it extends my capacity as a human being in that I can talk to more people with the sole purpose of lighting up our days and feeling better about this shared experience called life.   But, when business people are literally spamming the whole of twitter with their ads ‘cos some expert told them to do it, it is time for that chaos to be ordered. It isn’t right, and mark my words, it won’t be rewarded.


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