The Mad Blog

Facebook: like rubbing two sticks together

Facebook: like rubbing two sticks together

Social media isn't new. Ok, so the term might be new, but long ago, when some Paleolithic bright spark came up with something called "fire" and early humans gathered around after dark to swap stories, they had also discovered a form of "social media".

We humans are essentially pack animals. As a species, we prefer to gather in families, groups or tribes and socialise. When we aren't trying to kill ourselves in wars, the resulting exchange of ideas generally leads to great things, such as art and literature. It also leads to things like politics and TV talk shows, but you can't win 'em all.

Every new development in social media has had major impacts on society. The invention of the printing press brought the written word to the masses and resulted in a seismic shift in social power. As did the invention of radio and television. Each new technology brings social challenges and it always takes a little time before we humans figure out the best way to manage and use the new media.

The development of the internet provided an amazingly effective way for us to connect and socialise with other members of the global herd. eMail was the first "killer app" - the thing everyone had to have and the thing that first allowed the internet to become social.

Since then, enterprising individuals have come up with lots of variations on the theme: Blogs, Wikis, Facebook, Twitter – the list goes on.

What I find amusing to observe is the struggle by some people to manage and control social media – although sometimes the end result is less amusing and more sinister.

Probably the most ridiculous example of this for me is the attempt by corporations and organisations (including Facebook themselves) to use Facebook as a promotional or marketing vehicle. Almost by definition, Facebook is about individual real people (even if they are using pseudonyms) connecting and sharing with other individual realpeople. A blog is personal (the modern equivalent of a diary) and a Facebook presence is like gathering around a big global campfire with your personal acquaintances.

Now, if I was sitting around the fire with some friends swapping stories and sharing family photos and Woolworths backed up a big truck and started trying to sell me cans of pineapple, it would sort of kill the mood.

I don’t want to be “friends” with my supermarket, my bank, my place of work or my car manufacturer. I know they are not my friends; they just want to sell me stuff or get something from me.

If I miss the midnight train one night, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t FB my bank manager to come pick me up.

I know there aren’t ”real” people behind their online presences. There’s no chance they will post a compromising photo of themselves after having too many drinks or make an outrageous comment about Aunty Nora. I know their contributions are carefully prepared, screened and approved.

Just because you have a “cool” manufactured presence on social media doesn’t mean I will like your products or services any better.

Even celebrity Facebook pages and Tweets are losing credibility these days. Celebs are realising that one of the biggest dangers to maintaining celebrity status is boring reality, so increasingly their on-line presences are being spin-doctored to ensure their celebrity brand is safeguarded..

So a message to all you wannabe corporations, organisations and plastic celebrities: get off our social media and go find something else to play with – you’re not fooling us.

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