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Posted on June 29th 2012

kcain

Kevin Cain

Kevin Cain is a content and communications strategist based in Sydney, Australia, and has more than a decade or experience working in the financial services and consulting industries and helping expansion-stage software companies develop their content strategies. To learn more, follow him on Twitter @kevinrcain or check out his blog on language, content, communication and strategy.

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Comments

kcain
Posted on June 30th 2012 at 4:06PM

Glad so many people like and are sharing this article, but was hoping it would lead to a little more discussion. What do people think about my assessment?

Dr. Liz Alexander
Posted on July 5th 2012 at 5:55PM

Kevin -- I think your comment articulates another issue with social media. It's so much easier to click a "Like" or retweet someone else's thoughts than actually think about and craft a response yourself. 

I couldn't agree with you more. It never ceases to amaze me that the longest lines at the airport are for McDonald's than the salad bar. This in a country where more than 60 million adults and 9 million children and teens are obese or seriously overweight. Where almost 26 million have diabetes (corn syrup-laced junk food, anyone?), and heart disease is still our #1 killer.

Similarly, the junk that's being ingested today through poorly crafted blog posts, stream-of-consciousness tweets and Facebook posts are equally as damaging, long-term. 

Only today I ridiculed Seth Godin (yep, on FB) for the following opening to one of his guru pronouncements: 

"In 1776, the USA was more than 40 days across. It took over a month to ride on a horse from one end to the other. Today, it takes less than a second."

Er, what horse might that be, Seth? Yet immediately someone responded by saying that he meant the time it takes to communicate between one coast to the other. Maybe so, but that's not how it reads. Yet this is the kind of grammatically inferior guff we're exposed to every day. Then again, I doubt the majority of people reading Godin would have noticed anything wrong at all. 

And yesterday I posted a called-out comment on this Forbes article entitled The Un-Education of a Nation: Where We Went Wrong. 

We seem to be in serious denial in this country, or maybe it's just the right of the free to do what they hell they like and dang the consequences! But in the same way that someone's ill-health will in some shape or form impact my life, the current trend for short, "you want pictures with that?" superficial crap saddens me. It's getting harder and harder to find anyone with which to have a deep, meaningful, anger-free debate these days (in the spirit of Voltaire's "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it").

And we wonder why we're losing our competitive edge in the global marketplace. Maybe we will one day realize what we're doing to ourselves intellectually, if not physically. A course correction is seriously called for! Can't come soon enough for me.

 

 

Nilofar
Posted on July 6th 2012 at 4:40AM

Wrote a similar piece on Facebook and loneliness: http://trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com/ Are we setting ourselves up for loneliness when we seek lasting social bonds within the network of digital media? Would be great to engage in discussions.
 

MsShona
Posted on July 6th 2012 at 2:53PM

This is a great article. When I first opened my Facebook account back in 2007, I was very impressed by its clean presentation and the casual and easy way you could interact with friends and family. Today I’m pretty much over Facebook – although I’ll keep my account open because it is still the best way that I can keep in touch with friends and family online. But going to the site is a chore. Each post and action is left up to the interpretation of others. Inappropriate pictures and people posting countless photos of their pets and children is rampant. Also mundane updates regarding work life, love life, politics, and G-d knows what else is all that fills my wall. Not that I should expect anything different. But instead of being a means to connect with others, Facebook has become the world’s biggest soapbox! Unlike other social media sites, people tend to not be focused or have any end-goal in mind (i.e. LinkedIN = professional networking; Pinterest = visual promotion; Twitter = microblogging; etc.).

Good communication is constructive and is a partnership between parties. It is not too often that you see either on Facebook. Instead it feels more like show and tell; with impulse reactions being the norm.

In my humble opinion, Facebook is going the same way as MySpace. It may take much longer, but Facebook has definitely not being improved by age.

Kwan Lowe
Posted on July 6th 2012 at 4:55PM

Kevin: I actually logged in just to comment, but I rarely do so. The site asks for a lot of information, including the ability to post on the FB page even when not logged in, access Google contacts, etc.. As soon as I leave the comment I'm disabling the app from my FB page.

Twitter and FB had similar approaches. Twitter was constrained by the size of an SMS message. FB at one point imposed a short comment length. I forget the exact values, but it was hardly enough to say much more than a sound bite or post a URL.  The limitation has been lifted (at least on FB), but it formed habits among the userbase that persist.

A few days ago there was an article on the New York Times with a headline "Big Brother? No, It's Parents."  I've seen similar errors before on that site and other news sites ("taking there time", "interest was peaked", "if Roberts was to") and though I am far, far removed from anything resembling an expert on the language, I could spot the errors.

Is Facebook culture to blame?  I don't know, but I think the seeds were sown long ago.

Writers today have spelling, grammar, punctuation and style wizards (and some would recommend an Oxford comma a few words ago!) and they have had them for a generation now. On our smartphones we have auto-complete keyboards. To our detriment we have relied on these tools, and their absense seems to leave us incapable of anything but the digital equivalent of grunts and arm waving. 

Mix in the fact that webpages have a thousand widgets, frames, popups, marquee scrolls bombarding the viewer at every moment, it's a wonder that anyone can focus long enough to assemble a coherent paragraph or read/hear anything but a sound bite.

kcain
Posted on July 10th 2012 at 7:55PM

Thanks for the great comments everyone. You've got some really interesting perspectives and I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in my view of the downsides of social media. If you liked this post, I'd encourage you to check out another one I recently wrote that takes a similariy critical view of thought leadership.

http://blog.openviewpartners.com/what-is-thought-leadership-is-your-cont...

AdmaMaharjan
Posted on September 23rd 2013 at 1:20PM

Wonderful article Kevin. You have beautifully noted down how the likes and shares has just been trafficking the nagative side and this trend has been running so bad that instead of making the best use of Facebook, it has been going the other side. To me, I feel just by thinking to increase the likes and share of the brand Facebook page is not going to help the brand at all. And Why so? This article is the answer for that. Thanks!

 

Adma Maharjan, Community Manager @Simplify360

Bryn Lica
Posted on January 14th 2014 at 2:44AM

Thank you for the eye-opener. You have beautifully noted several aspects of de-communication in the article: the deterioration of language use, mishaps in communication across age and culture groups, and most of all how facebook builds and simultaneously destroys human relationships.  A very good reference for a research paper. More discussions are necessary on the Pros and Cons of facebook use.

Susan Acosta
Posted on January 30th 2014 at 8:57AM

I agree wholeheartedly.  I come from a generation that required "direct human contact" to communicate.  Now we have a generation of people who consider a Facebook post as appropriate communication.  I see it as one-sided and from a vacuum.  It was my birthday this week (a landmark year) and two of three adult children posted "cards" on Facebook.  Both live within 30 minutes of my home.  It seems that they considered that post adequate and found no need to make a phone call or send a card.  Give me back the old fashioned way that required some forethought and planning to express good wishes to family members and friends.  We have created a society that does not seem to require any direct contact and it has left our children (and adults) isolated and alone