“I say, ‘Babe, just get a hold of yourself, and pull yourself in, man, ’cause this is it.”…from the movie screenplay The Trip

The deeper I get into social media, the more I notice the richness and variety of my conversations with fellow travelers. Especially with Twitter (but also through Facebook, Forum Participation & Blog Commenting), I’ve had many wonderful interactions with people that would have seemed impossible only a short while ago. What makes the Social Media Revolution even more personally satisfying is that I get to be (and am rewarded for being) “real”. I can communicate comfortably in my “Straight, No Chaser” manner as opposed to putting on the front I typically reserve for public events where conformity is the norm. I’ve also found that even just a small amount of personal communication via social media prior to a personal meeting greatly enhances the encounter. In these instances, the conversation is immediately comfortable since the barriers to getting to know the person have already been broken down online and the other person and I have many shared experiences to draw from.

Of course, there is a flip side to this equation. Never has small-talk seemed so…”small”.

Online marketers spend their day speaking a language inaccessible to most outsiders. This isn’t totally unique to our profession…engineers & scientists also are similarly handicapped. However, until recently, we still had been talking to each other in pretty much the same manner as other groups communicate amongst themselves.

Now, the conversation in our industry has been significantly amped. Through the magic of open platforms combined with RSS feeds, our interactions taking place in one medium get ported to others. We accept as natural that remarks made on Twitter will get read on static blog posts, on Facebook Pages, in RSS Readers, and even get repeated back to you at Tweet-ups. We can understand how a series of 140 character (or less) comments from a gaggle of thought leaders can allow somebody to view the heart of an industry better than any traditional publication could report. We can view people’s Tweets and Facebook activity as “windows to their soul” and use them to get a meaningful sense of their personalities which can be leveraged on other platforms with significant business and social advantage to all involved. Furthermore, the mobile nature of communications devices means that we have access to our networks and our fellow travelers 24/7.

The wonderment of social media has made it so much more difficult to relate to those who haven’t been touched by this “New Communication”. Once somebody has taken the trip and experienced the infinite number of ways that one person can connect with an infinite number of other people, “Communication 1.0” gets really old quickly. Sure, the old ways of relating to others will always have their use but they have never seemed more perfunctory as they are now.

The “New Communication” is one of openness and sharing, not exclusivity. It thrives on participation, not passivity. It focuses on the creativity of people’s minds, not their surface trappings. It is very much a meritocracy where somebody’s standing in the community is earned, not granted and where giving to others is rewarded much more than taking for oneself.

For those who haven’t taken the trip yet, embarking upon it is easy. Follow the lead of others who have tripped successfully before. Cast away any apprehensions about trying something new and don’t prejudge the journey and its outcome. Drift with its flow. Every trip is different and each participant will be rewarded in a meaningful way unique to them. If the traveler can avoid viewing the journey through the standards of their past, they will be enriched in countless amazing ways.

As time goes on, the communications divide between those who trip and those who haven’t will become quite vast and relationships between people who dig it and don’t dig will get harder to maintain. People who aren’t able to open their mind to the possibilities of the “New Communication” will never be enriched in the manner of its adherents. The “New Communication” is groovy, far-out, and psychedelic all rolled up into a pipe that we’re smoking and the folks who don’t inhale are missing out on one hell of a buzz.

2 thoughts on “The Social Media Trip

  1. Todd, once again you’ve written something that I have to read again and again. Not because I can’t understand it, but because there is so much to take in. I understand keyword research, developing copy, etc. And I’m still at the stage where my participation in forums is mostly asking questions. Yet this “New Communication” is obviously something I need to learn not just for my clients, but for my own well being. Yours will be the lead I follow.

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