Allen Weiss' words of wisdom have sunk in and we actually feel more comfortable with social media now although Janet still thinks that Gen X and Gen Y will always use platforms like Facebook and Twitter more comfortably than Baby Boomers do.
No wonder considering the words of cultural critic, urban and media historian and author Norman Klein from the California Institutes Of The Arts, who is known for his insight into Zeitgeist and social development:
“Social media started over 20 years ago but we see the system accelerating. We used to leave our houses to interact publicly. Now we have brought public life into our homes. We are blurring the boundaries of public life and privacy. We have a very exaggerated sense of privacy. But in reality the lines between being alone versus being in a community will blur.
Social media only appear to be a democratic system when in fact they have a very corrosive effect. There is no control system in place.
For instance, take the economic meltdown. Social media had an enormous impact. We suffered a loss of vertical sense of power. The Internet enabled horizontal distribution of power in all systems, government and finance. Just look what it did to book publishing, newspapers and the music industry. Bernie Madoff would not have been possible without social media. Social media encourage artificial inventions. There are no stopgaps, no brokers who ensure oversight.
The whole world has become more horizontal. It is a trans-global, trans-national development. The Bush Administration’s lack of attention to the new technology did not help. We need to come up with a master plan to create insurance, protection and oversight.
This said, businesses couldn’t afford to ignore social media.
Every system eventually turns into capital. If you can get 10 seconds of someone’s attention, then there will be someone willing to pay for that attention.
Social media is a very big deal. Just take the example of that singer from Scotland (editor: Susan Boyle). All she did was carry a tune. They say about 100 million people checked her out on YouTube. What would a business do to get that many hits! How did this happen? It is a social media phenomenon.
She is the perfect example for the speed of the social media development. She rose from complete obscurity and ended with a headline-making breakdown in a time span of two months.
Obviously, the branding and marketing possibilities through social media are endless.
But we need to coordinate all systems and set up an honest broker for control. At this point it is a runaway horse.”
Our Gen-Yer Chris Gerstenblatt, Event Producer, has absorbed these dire words already.
"Obviously most of my acquaintances are using social media in some fashion. So do I. I am on LinkedIn and Facebook. I avoided MySpace as it seemed to be geared towards teens and music industry only. LinkedIn is basically just my resume online. I use it strictly as a professional communication tool. It makes it easy to market myself via the internet. I am also on Facebook but most of my posts are of a private nature. It gets complicated because the lines between private and professional life blur. I don't want to bore friends with a lot of business talk. I don't necessarily want to share all of my private posts with business contacts. The fact that some business contacts have become friends adds to the dilemma. Last but not least I want to keep some separation between work and private life because I need a break from work. Reading about it all the time makes it difficult to get away from it sometimes. We have a new company profile for EventWorks on Facebook and that has really been a positive. We all can share and comment on some of the fun and excitement on the job without crossing the lines. For instance, when Katie Rogers was stuck on the runway in Miami for hours, just to then be returned to the terminal and sent off to a hotel along the 95 Causeway for an extra night, she facebooked about her misery and we could all send her quick words of compassion and encouragement. And we all knew right away that she would not be back in the office early the next day."
We keep reading and learning. There are exciting possibilities for applications in the event world that we are investigating further.
It's getting easier. As Allen Weiss said so wisely: "All it is is a conversation."
The bottom line is, if we would not say it to anyone in person, we won't write it on Facebook neither.
Photo Credit: Norman Klein photographed by Eckhart Schmidt
Chris Gerstenblatt: provided by himself.