Social Media Fetishism: It Shouldn’t be About the Shiny New Object 1


Technology changes, but people do not. 

I have for some time experienced an increasing discomfort with the “social media conversation,” self-appointed gurus, endless workshops to earn a quick buck, and the horse race to be the first saying that I am using a shiny new object. 

When these technologies were brand new, it made sense to talk about them separately.  Ask any kid (even big ones) how cool a new toy can be.  But as numerous case studies have now taught us, and as Henry Jenkins pointed out long before many of us started using shiny new objects, convergence and time are diminishing the need to focus on the bling alone.

Social media is not all that interesting least when discussed apart from any particular context. 

So what does matter?  Well, a few things come to mind.

  • economic competition
  • productivity
  • innovation
  • creativity
  • problem solving
  • learning
  • networking
  • governing
  • Leading/following

Technology is neutral.  We use media in the service of things which matter far more than the shiny new objects.  Examples might include productivity or the pursuit of self determination (read that as Tunisia and Egypt).  So while sometimes I must focus on the shiny objectives, I sincerely make every effort to do so as only as a stepping stone to more meaningful issues. 

When our fetish fixes the gaze on the shiny object, then perhaps we risk missing what has always mattered most–that greater purpose(s) which social beings strive for.  So while the technology changes daily–hourly–we the people continue striving to make a difference in our own life, organizational life, and society.

We might do well to keep in mind what is, and always has been, more important.

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