Is Social Media Training Us to Help Others?

by David Murray

The Morning After SxSW on 6th St
Image: The Morning After SxSWi on 6th St

Those who claim the social media bubble is about to burst may want to take closer look at the landscape.

2010 was supposed to be the year of social media adoption. The year companies and professionals from all industries celebrated the blind acceptance of tools as a substitute for effective marketing. But for those who still practice the ancient art of listening, understand that this didn’t happen.

If we look at social media as a communication channel then companies and industry professionals need to re-learn what it means to communicate. Better yet, both parties would be well served to remember that this medium doesn’t suffer fools lightly.

And who are the biggest fools when it comes to this space?

Perhaps it is the few who believe social media can and should be used for more than just effective marketing and successful business communications. These folk use social media for social good. How strange.

This goes against the grain of the immediate ego pampering tools that are at everyone’s disposal. It’s easy to talk about ourselves, what we are doing, and whom we are with. It’s not in our nature to sacrifice the spotlight, and share it with our neighbor.

If the social web is a mirror of our human behavior, then this shouldn’t be a surprise.

It’s about looking out for #1, right? If you believe we do come from some primordial ooze, then just watch The Discovery Channel. Those wild beasts understand the rules. It’s survival, not followers. There’s no re-tweeting in their world.

But the fact that we will re-tweet something from someone is what separates us from the animals.

Though there is still a lot of “I” happening on the social web, we are beginning to see more of “You.” There are people bringing value to the table before they bring themselves. They’re doing something we all strive to do, but don’t always succeed in accomplishing. They’re helping.

Helping isn’t natural.

We all want to be good individuals on this chess board, however, it is not in our immediate nature to lend a hand to a friend, let alone a stranger. Perhaps the social web is training us to be better individuals? At least it’s providing a stage for those who want to create something bigger than themselves. This can only increase the possibility that their actions will “influence” others to follow.

The true leaders are beginning to replace rock stars.

As more individuals think about the value they can bring to this space, the more we will see what it really means to be social, and what it really means to help your fellow human being. We’ve already seen this in action, and this new thing called helping can only grow from here.

The social media bubble is far from bursting.

We are re-learning value. We are re-learning what it means to truly help. There is still much to re-learn, but thanks to social media we are heading in the right direction.

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David Murray (@DaveMurr) is the Social Web Communications Director for re:group, a fully integrated marketing and communications firm focused on creating and maintaining relevant, powerful brands. You can connect with David and re:group on Twitter and Facebook.