Sep 15

Why Most People Couldn’t Care Less About “Social Media”

I find social media fascinating. As far as I’m concerned, we have the greatest innovation since the printing press in terms of the democratization of ideas. As you can see in this interesting experiment by Alana Taylor, most people honestly don’t know or do not care about social media. As I’ve discussed with Hugh MacLeod, social media has become something like a cult, where it’s those who “get it” and those who don’t.

Most people shouldn’t care about social media. The subject matter discussed in social media spheres does not directly impact their lives. It really is a wasteful time suck for them.

Why do I say this? I see very little in social media spheres about anything about current events, or sports, or business, or entertainment, or anything else someone actually looks to “media” for. I see a lot about cutting edge technology, which primarily affects you if you are in the technology business. Eight out of the top ten Technorati blogs are tech related. Most people just wait for technology to become affordable, so of course they don’t read blogs or care about social media. They wait for some reporter to steal a story from a blogger and then they read it there or see it when it hits TV.

This is not necessarily an assessment of blame, mind you. People who understand technology are more likely to take the time to sit at a computer to read blogs. They are more likely to set up blogs or learn how to have their own internet TV show. We just have to understand that this medium is very powerful. There’s more to the world than technology and we can spread the word a lot quicker through this medium than any other.

However, right now, my sister is sitting in Houston with no power. There are lines in Houston for generators, gasoline, and food. A friend from Galveston who is organizing this event is sitting in her Dallas friend’s home, wondering what her home town looks like and if any of her friends are dead. I’ve seen a little bit about this stuff from my Houston friends in the Twittosphere. I found about it a.) in the Houston Chronicle blog, which is a blog but is most certainly owned by a large traditional media company, b.) through email and c.) on a telephone. So no, I don’t have time to care if some “A-List” blogger tweets about a piece of cheesecake (although I’m sure some of his friends do). I need to know what the hell is going on there, and right now the most prominent social media sources are not meeting that need…

Please donate to the Red Cross. Donate to a Houston area or Austin area Food Bank. Just do something.

If there are other forms of relief or news you know of, please comment.

  • Mark Dykeman

    Michelle, you bring up some excellent points. There are definitely times when “real life” stuff (e.g. Ike) takes precedence over anything that cyberspace or social media users are concerned about as a natural matter of course.

    Another thing to consider is that many people are quite happy to limit their interactions to the people they know or those in close proximity to them, whereas many social media users are talking to anyone, anywhere via the Web.

    It’s still early days, though, isn’t it?

    Mark Dykemans last blog post..With apologies to all you Mark Dykemans out there…

  • debutaunt

    Big time need to replenish the blood supply in Houston. Check with your local redcross about drives.

    The salvation army is also collecting clothes, food, and donations.

    Chelle, you rock. Keep on keepin on!

    debutaunts last blog post..The scoper

  • Michelle

    @Mark The point you made about geography is very good. That does make sense.

    I struggle with the balance of my interests outside social media myself, so this post is just a call for people to open up the dialog to a.) important matters in the world and b.) people who are not tech obsessed. It’s a tool, just like a cell phone.

  • Steven Hodson

    While the title on my post might seem a little crass and attention seeking – well it was meant to be – I think much of it is in agreement with what you are trying to express with your post – which I enjoyed and now subscribed.

  • Alexander M Zoltai

    Thanks for a post that goes to the heart of what I’m trying to work out right now–is it some meme floating around or just the time for consideration of valuable ideas?

    My blog is for a small niche. Still, if I could speak to the whole niche, it could be in the millions. But…
    Even though I won’t use every “slick” new tool to plaster myself on various cyber-walls, and I can’t write about what the majority of people might want to read, I still take very seriously the needs and values of the folks in my niche.


    Thanks, Michelle ! Your post let me clarify my thinking a bit…

    ~ Alex from Our Evolution

    Alexander M Zoltais last blog post..Heads or Tails ?

  • Richard Stacy

    You are right – social media is way too geeky, but it will change.. The two things that will change it and bring in ‘normal people’ will be the emergence of social networks in the workplace and the, as yet un-developed, single easy-to-use tool which will allow people to ‘do’ social media – i.e. publish, receive and manage network members all from one place.

    Written more on this here:

    Richard Stacys last blog post..links for 2008-09-15

  • hugh macleod

    It’s called “non-profit” for a reason… 😉

    hugh macleods last blog post.."good ideas have lonely childhoods"

  • Michelle

    Hugh, I’m not comparing non-profits with social media. I’m comparing traditional media with social media. Traditional media covered the hurricane, therefore it got eyeballs and advertising dollars. Social media talked about ice cream and iPods. That’s why the New York Times is making what I make in a year in one day.

    Be relevant or go home.

  • Richard Stacy

    I think what Hugh was saying is that social media doesn’t need profit – which is why its different. The nature of its relevancy is different, it hasn’t got to be mass to be relevant, the boundaries of relevancy are not determined by commercial constraints. We don’t have a sanctity attached to publication anymore, which means we can publish what we previously talked – iPods, ice cream or hurricanes. That’s the whole point of the thing.

    Richard Stacys last blog post..links for 2008-09-20

  • Mike

    Hm, ya know I didn’t realize how many people don’t get social media and how tech it is. The big chunk of my friends are fellow tech people, the others are adept at using some social media outlets but fail at others. When I encourage them to get involved they’ve seemed to lag at it. I guess it makes sense for tech to be this way though. Its how anything cutting edge works. The people that have the most vested interest in it pay attention to it right away. Play with it, use it, break it and make it grow. Eventually things trickle down to the masses, but industry relies on the people who are closest to it to make decisions. Look at the Porn industry. VHS vs Beta, then to DVD, to Blue Ray. The industry makes the call, and over time it impacts the rest of the world. Maybe tech is the same and maybe we are the industry. Instead of directors, stars and companies behind them we have designers, bloggers and RSS subscribers.
    Or I’m totally bonkers and live in my own bubble… I hope its a nice bubble.

    Mikes last blog post..I rant there for I am.