• The last post on the topic? One that agrees with your opinion rather than offering a dissenting view? It strikes me that, first of all, substantive conversation often starts with small talk. The “mindless millions” are, in many ways, making their first overtures to find out with whom they wish to engage in a full-on conversation.

    Secondly, I am suspicious of anyone who laments the loss of substance in conversation while listening only to those who agree with and laud him. Try a different point of view once in awhile; it is instructive and often leads to new ways forward.

    • Thanks, Geri. I RTed your post.

    • Thank you for your comment Geri. I don’t think Geoff invited me to guest post because I agree, or don’t agree. I have no axe to grind on the subject, I have come in with fresh eyes and relatively new. My perspective does not share history or biases – just what my experience has been first hand with a number of conspicuous people who are lauded for being “experts” who don’t live their message – the experts being paid for advising on this very thing. Personally, I’d be more suspicious of hypocrites. But that’s just me.

  • Debbie great post. BTW that scene with Albert Brooks drenched in sweat. I have been there. More than once. LOL

    I don’t find the early adopters who wrote books and give speeches relevant today. They just aren’t. It’s ok that they aren’t. Social Media has migrated from big fan fair of people to people technology evolution to a big fraud that its a marketing revolution. The current platforms allow marketing but what if future platforms do not? We will still be consuming Social media Technology. Maybe we will buy apps or our Mobile devices will just have us enter everyone’s contact data and we can choose who to talk with in what method we choose…all in private?

    The issue with Social Media is if you are going to talk the talk you have to walk the walk. I have a 75/25 rule. 75% of the Guru’s (Brogan, Solis, Kawasaki), VC’s, Industry Workers (Zuckerberg), News (Mashable) are biased with self interest and can give a crap about helping people or businesses succeed. And 25% are the real deal who really want to help others. Its up to people to weed through the BS just like we do with everything in this world.

    And yes the state of our news is sad. I rail on Mashable and even Fortune for regurgitating press releases without sometimes doing objecting critical thinking. I asked Fortune why they never challenge Facebooks 540m accounts and get real activity numbers or how many accounts are spam. Of Mashable cherry picking data to make everything look rosie.

    That is my rant! Great post Debbi! BTW gonna share this with some Gen-Yers.

    • Howie,
      Thanks so much for these great thoughts! And thank you for sharing with some Gen-Yers, you make excellent points that you have clearly given a great deal of thought prior to this comment.
      Yeah… the case of flop sweat… LOL!

  • I think a really large part of twitter and social media is not about the connection or even the learning, it has become a business model for networking. Look at the majority of people building their self brand (myself included) but the difference lies in the integrity and strategy of doing so.

    Some people don’t even read what they retweet, thinking that if a “big name” tweep tweeted it, it MUST be good. But the people who actually do read to learn and to make connections with people who express great thoughts are, unfortunately probably the ones who do not get the great attention. Just because a creative director from a massive agency posts a blog doesnt mean its good, relevant or meaningful. EVEN IF i know, from a business brand standpoint (being a student) i could easily get his/her attention by praising his/her crappy blog and retweeting him/her.

    But what the minority of people who pay attention discover is that when you retweet irrelevant posts and meaningless information you are now putting your name (or twitter handle) behind it. And the minority of people who read everything will quickly catch on, or wonder about what you really represent.

    I personally do not have thousands of followers/following but the ones i do follow i believe i have somewhat of a good connection with, and has gone beyond the “RT, thanks, and you’re welcome” tweets. I have connected with many people via email and skype to learn more about them because i legitimately liked their thoughts and wanted to learn more than just 140 characters.

    I guess the main issue is transparency, are people doing it for business branding or to genuinely learn and connect?

    And to refer to the last quote in the blog about the people getting more attention is really something that has been in society since currency – the richer get rich, the poorer get poorer, except in this case the popular get more followers and the integral get less followers.

    what i have learned (to end this extensive comment) is to learn and connect, choose your connections wisely and interact in more then just a tweet. Have interest in what people are doing, everyone on twitter is reaching out in some way, the hard part is finding out why and for what reason. Find the genuine people, ones that want to help and make sure YOU have the intention on helping in any way you can as well. Dont judge people on their titles or bios, perception is reality, read what they post and retweet and discover for yourself.

    Nice post!!

    Josh (Gen-Yer)

    • Hello Josh Gen Yer,
      I’m so glad to read your comment and thank you so much for sharing your meaningful and insightful perspective! I know you will probably find this hard to believe, but I agree with everything you’ve said here, especially the second paragraph. I also believe I have a good connection with, and many of the people I mutually follow. It has gone beyond Twitter as well and I would say without hesitation look forward to meeting them/knowing them in real life. I think you get a good sense of who is the real deal, for me that matters. Like you said “Find the genuine people, ones that want to help and make sure YOU have the intention on helping in any way you can as well.” And yes, people have different objectives, and that’s okay. Thank you Josh look forward to chatting with you more!

    • Josh twitter has been the greatest networking tool I have ever been able to use. It has single handedly allowed me to keep trucking with my start up vs dragging my ass back to work for a boss I might loathe! Great observation!

  • Yesterday, I was trying to add some finesse to my self-hosted WordPress blog. Apart from a class on HTML 10 years ago (almost 11…gee whiz), I really know didley squat about doing website type stuff. So I posed a question to Twitter, aimed at no one in particular. I didn’t really expect anyone to answer. It was 6 PM, people would be getting ready for dinner.

    The first person who responded recommend that I talk to one of their friends. So I tweeted to that person. I said, “So and so said you could help me with this.” I didn’t expect an answer. An hour later, that person plus 2 others helped me accomplish what I was trying to do.

    To me that epitomizes what Social Media could and should be all about, regardless of whether you are there for personal reasons, professional reasons, or some combination of the two.

    I feel like I’m leaving tomes all across the interwebs this week, but I feel very strongly that the world of Social Media is at a very important point in its existence. I think there is a huge confused tide of people that are envious of “A-Listers” while also wanting to be helped by them. I think there are A-Listers who want to start getting paid for all they do and it seems to come out of the blue. And I think there are people who don’t do things in the best way, and those folks lurk like dark shadows in the corner, making everything seem a bit more bleak.

    One of my favorite scenes from Broadcast News is when Holly Hunter realizes that Bill Hurt could not have been doing what it looked like he was doing because the camera angles weren’t right. He was not as authentic as he had appeared to be. And she was disappointed and frustrated and felt betrayed. I have not yet had that experience with anyone in this space, I’m happy to say, but I pick carefully who I respect and admire. I don’t gravitate towards big numbers and who looks & talks pretty. And I depend on my own brain. Just a little.

    • Oh yes, that next to last scene when she watches the take out tapes and sees that he ‘manufactured’ his tears by re-shooting the take.

      She tells him he totally crossed the line and his response was ‘well they keep moving the little sucker…’

      It doesn’t matter what industry we’re talking about, you find that mindset, attitude in any industry.

      I don’t necessarily agree with your thought that there is a huge tide of people that are envious of A-Listers, or I should say I don’t believe that is the motivation for some of the discussions/posts I’ve seen.

      As I said in my post, I’ve made some great connections, you of course among them. However, I have had less than positive interaction with a very small handful of folks I did like Tamsen’s post for example – “Calling Bullshit on Social Media”

      By the way, this was Tamsen’s response to my comment:
      “Maya Angelou once said (apparently), ‘The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.’ I love that idea.”

  • Wow, I feel bad that I did not seen the movie “Broadcast News” (but look forward to renting it), But I do want to add my two cents to this interesting post! I agree with you in so many levels!
    I joined Twitter in March 2009. Being in the Advertising and Marketing industry I became curious about social media, which was a struggle for me, considering I’m a very private person. I was surprised to discover the world of Twitter; it was an exciting place where you can go and find tons of people talking about tons of things! All you have to do is find them. And soon you start recognizing the big names (I’m sure each field has its own) at the same time you realized that this platform called “twitter” allows you to build relationships and establish conversation. You start following these people; because you admire them, and they become your mentors and there is no better prize than to get a reply from them when you comment on their post, blogs, or simple #FF. But sometime that reply never happens! And soon you see a pattern; your mentor, this person you consider to be “an expert in social media” is not interested in establishing a conversation with you! (you=his follower, his fan) and you feel disenchanted.
    You social media mentality from here totally changes; now you start valuing the true friendships you have made in twitter, the value is not in your Klout score or your influence…not even the number of followers you have! The value is in the “2 way” street you both share, the digital relationship you have build and the hopes to take that to another level, weather is a RL meeting, a connection in another platform.
    I used to think that if I unfollowed a mentor I would miss out in his tweets and news….I now think; It is them who will miss out on the opportunity to strengthen their relationship with his fans and followers!

    • Hello Jeanette,

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience. I’ve been heartened by the responses and discussions taking place here! And yes, I think you will love Broadcast News, definitely see it and when you do let me know what you think :-)

      It’s interesting that you relay essentially the same experience I talk about in the my post, while I’m happy to say it was the exception, nonetheless, it was an experience I had more than a few times.

      I opened an account on Twitter exactly a year after you, but I didn’t really start using it regularly for a few months. It was time. I’m guessing any of us coming from similar backgrounds seeking to learn more about social media, for business particularly, will look to the folks that know it best.

      You read their stuff, you follow them, comment on their blogs, tweet them bla bla bla yes, all the things you mention … to no avail. OK, their busy… mmm nah, they’re “choosing” to ignore you.

      It’s one thing when that happens with a random no-name … (oh right that’s us ha) it seems rather odd and somewhat hypocritical for the folks who write books on it, are paid by clients or employers to make a living at social media, treat people that way in the space.

      That’s why I love Tamsen’s response to my comment on her post: “Maya Angelou once said (apparently), ‘The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.’ I love that idea.”

      There is no question, people have different reasons and/or objectives for using Twitter, but for the most part I think you are looking for ‘conversation’ the two-way thing. You soon learn who those people are, your community, your friends – just like in real life right?

      Here’s how I see it, when you speak to someone in real life and they either pretend they don’t hear you, or worse, turn and walk away – that’s says a lot about them – aside from the fact that they’re being rude. To me, it’s not all that different on Twitter – or Facebook, or their blog…

      You are so right, you begin to value the genuine people you connect with because you’re interested in having meaningful conversation – in the end you want to ‘hang out’ with the people you would also hang with in real life!

  • Hey there Debbi,

    Fantastic insight, great example with Broadcast News, and very impassioned and relevant discussion going on here in the comments because of it – kudos. :)

    I think where we’re at is due to a simple fact – social media is often seen by purists as almost kumbaya-like (everyone’s great and no-one’s wrong and this is the present and future best), when in reality it’s like that moment in They Live when Roddy Piper puts on the glasses for the first time.

    Yes, we connect. Yes, we help. Yes, we advise. And yes, we ask for all these things too.

    But it is also a business model – show me anyone who can keep a roof over their head and a meal in their kids’ mouths just by being on Twitter or Facebook all day, and I’ll gladly wear one of these asshats that seems to be doing the rounds at the minute. ;-)

    So yes, it’s a business model too, and people are using social media to monetize – blogs, businesses, projects.

    Where the problem arises is from folks tying to justify the financial side of social media by saying they give stuff away for free. That’s your choice to give away for free, just as it’s your choice to charge for ebooks or webinars.

    Be upfront and say, “I’m making money because I need to eat” as opposed to “I gave you all this free stuff for years.”

    Um… I think I may have rambled off-topic again.

    Suffice to say, it’s not people who are irrelevant – it’s simply ideas. The people behind them have the smarts to offer new ideas – quit living on past successes and move the whole conversation forward.

    • Hey there back Danny,

      I’m so glad to see you have taken the time to comment and share your thoughts and valuable insight. I appreciate it very much!

      I’ve been seeing the issue/topic of transparency being discussed a lot more. Is it just me, or is transparency the new authenticity?

      However, what I’m also seeing (and perhaps relates to transparency) is the question Geoff discusses in this very post “Mindless and Elite” and you as well in your post “Grow Some Balls” – I love the two titles side-by-side :-)

      You say “it’s not the ability to think for ourselves that we’ve lost, but the belief in our thoughts being right and following through on those convictions.”

      I see those two things as a problem, former bosses found the latter as a problem, hence the ‘former’ part… it’s a blessing and a curse, having balls – but I know you have to believe in yourself before you can believe in anything else, before you can follow through on your convictions.

      In the context of social media and discourse of late, social media as an industry took off quickly in uncharted waters, there were discoverers of the new world and well you know the rest. Now, similar to establishing the ‘new world’ this is a period that comes with all the growing pains – but as you say it must move forward.

  • Of course my headline on Chris Brogan being invincible was tongue-in-cheek and should not be used to make a point that I, or anybody else, thinks he is really invincible. Maybe we are still not clear on that point?

    I applaud the vigor you have as a newcomer to throw fresh fuel on the fire of the sycophants. I tire of it. I tire of the general mindlessness of the social web. i tire of the lemming-like attitude expected by the A-Listers

    Your point, “Our society’s views lack depth and thought more often than not.” Probably could be repeated throughout the decades. Has the social web made people more sheep-like? I doubt it.

    Gratefully, the social web also gives us the chance to opt-out of idiots. Like Howie, I choose to surround myself with truly interesting and helpful people. It has given me the chance to connect with amazing people like you Debbi. So overall, I say unfollow the bastards, reward the smart ones, celebrate our wonderful new connections!

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