The world once witnessed an arms race. Now it faces a different arms race: a literal one. The kings of social media are in a continual duel to control your arms, hands and minds when we sit before a computer or mobile device and decide how to share our lives.
On one hand, the very platform of social media sparks my interest on a personal level as it does with hundreds of millions of people. I engage social media in an ever-evolving manner to promote my business. And others hire me to execute social media strategies to promote their businesses. On a bigger scale, we already know social media’s influence in social movements. But I sensed corporate America truly did not welcome my questioning of authority and the status quo. That’s one reason I left. So I don’t think I must surrender my right to question social media simply because it’s often tied to my life and I believe in its power. The moment we stop asking questions is the moment we become doormats instead of thinkers.
I followed the Tweets as they trickled out about Facebook’s new Timeline and how it allows us to share even more of our lives online. My first question was where does this personal sharing tunnel end? I envisioned, as if in a hazy dream with lots of fog, a social media representative in the future explaining I am now required to give the company a key to my front door. Would people’s Timelines truly start from the beginning and include someone posting video of their birth? If I start listening to music with a friend through Facebook, maybe one day I would no longer walk my dog Molly. Social media might let me click on a link and listen to her walk from my computer.
My next question concerned Twitter and Google+. I tried to imagine their leaders listening to Facebook’s new ideas and them shouting to themselves “Ah ha! I can top that by next month!” Maybe to topple the new Timeline feature, Facebook foes will unveil a Time Travel function allowing us to change the course of history and visit the future.
During the housing bubble, few people seemed to stop and raise too many questions about all of it while having fun and making money. The social media arms race isn’t the housing bubble. The stakes, I can only assume, are nowhere near as high if, for example, everyone tomorrow decided they were sick and tired of social media. But I do wonder where this is all eventually headed, how it ultimately affects society and how the next announcement will try to top the latest.
In the meantime, I’ll try to enjoy the new features and leverage them to the best of my ability for both my clients and me. I like social media. If nothing else, it’s still a fairly new idea that is just cool and fun. But this new idea is starting to remind me of the old saying “too much of a good thing.” We already witness three people sitting at the same restaurant table all staring down at their phones. Perhaps soon we will share each other’s lunch via social media without ever leaving our desks. Pass the virtual ketchup. Just don’t spill it on my keyboard.
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