I will stick by my mate, which is also precisely what a monkey would do…
As in many other industries, Social Media has its lunatic fringe; those that seem to consider critical thinking to be whatever pops into their heads, and once having communicated their hypotheses, consider them factual truths. Fans of comic books, particularly Superman, often refer to such practitioners of pretzel logic as being from the planet Htrae (Earth, spelled backwards), better known as the Bizarro World.
No doubt many that may fall into this rather dubiously described category are in fact well meaning practitioners. Since there are no formal academic training programs, virtually all those employed in the field of Social Media at the time of this writing are on-the-job trainees, especially where purely essenced convention is concerned. That is not to say all Social Media professionals are uneducated – most often the opposite is the case. Typically a background in marketing/business, public relations, technical, and/or journalism and its associated communications traditions are useful and desired when employment or consultation covenants are undertaken. Yet no single person in the field today has been classically trained with both didactic and real world experience specifically aimed at Social Media.
The occasional result of this lack is Bizarro World Social Media. Allow me to present a few examples (obviously names and other identifying information will be withheld):
- A few months ago, during a LinkedIn discussion about whether one should post a profile picture on their accounts, and whether this decision impacted a choice of if others would or would not extend business offers as a result, I made reference to the need for transparency (my own argument being that profile images assist in ensuring transparency, meaning that data which is claimed and represented by the virtual persona is also what the substance of the real person is as well, was realized). Another group member, who listed their position as founder and owner of a Social Media consultation service, stated that they, “did not believe transparency had anything to do with Social Media.” “After all,” they continued, “when you go to a party, do you wear a mask like Lady Gaga? No, you go as yourself!” Presumably, this professional thought wearing a translucent face covering was what was meant by “transparency.”
- A couple of years ago, a person that did at the time, and continues to do so to this day, represent themselves as an expert in Social Media, publicly stated, “There will never be a Social Media Manager’s position, because marketing will always manage the campaign.”
- Met a person who referred to themselves as a futurist, which, for some reason, seemed a bit pretentious, especially since they couldn’t give direct answers about trends, projections, etc. Each time they spoke, it was about selling their services as a speaker, wanting others to purchase their book, acting superior to everyone else, and, when addressing others, doing so condescendingly and with an arrogant attitude. As it turned out, this pompous ass happened to answer some questions about their “work” to another person who was pretending to be a fan and wishing to be their acolyte. Bear in mind that typically, true futurists are always multi-lingual, driven by intense, investigative research study via established and accepted data-driven guidelines, and well-versed in their understanding of sociology, as they are classically trained sociologists; basically, highly formally educated, i.e., holding more than one advanced degree. His thoughts were as follows:
I speak English only, I understand a little French but very little.
Social Science, that is a broad topic; do you mean human behaviour, or social human behaviour? I’m not sure what exactly you mean by the term. Social Science to me is human behaviour; people are pretty much easy to figure out for the most part, because we are creatures of habit. Practically all people have a huge need to control and be in a comfort zone.
I try to study a few business patterns and some business trending, but mostly I just study 20 other Futurists and see what they’re doing to keep me current. My formal education is high school, but my life’s education is what’s important; it’s what counts. I’m no rocket scientist, I just see what others don’t; it’s called being a visionary, and I like to refer to it as my great gift for having foresight.
Bizarro World Social Media isn’t limited to professional applications: individual users also seem to sometimes miss the point, as these following actual Facebook posts illustrate:
And finally, what discussion of Bizarro World Social Media would be complete without a mention of hapless former U.S. Congessional Representative Anthony Weiner, who sexted a friend via Twitter (thinking he did so via a private Direct Message, but found later it had gone out over the public stream), stating, “I’m A Weiner,” and was accompanied with the following photo (in the interest of not continuing to over saturate the story’s broadcast, this part will be kept short):
Social Media’s meteoric rise in popularity, with both public and private sectors, has left little opportunity for total professionalism on an industry-wide basis to facilitate. Until such time when standards of practice are established, and those involved with its deployment become skilled through accepted accreditations, as well as acknowledged as such, the Social Media that is commonplace on Hrtrae will bleed over into our own world, giving us a (sometimes enjoyable, sometimes bitter) taste of Bizarro World Social Media.