The Emperor Has No Clothes
By J. Allen Leinberger
I love it when I’m right.
Some time ago I wrote a few disparaging words about social media. Everyone else was saying it was the new “thing.” People were conducting seminars on how to market on social media. Businesses were dropping cash advertising contracts in order to use this new Internet system for free.
I said they were expecting more that they should—and I was right.
Make no mistake. I use Facebook. I keep in touch with my daughters up north. I find out what local friends are up to. I do not do business on Facebook. I do business through phone calls, e-mail and on websites. Facebook is exactly what it says it is. It is a “social” network. Talk to your buddies. Watch baseball games or TV season finales together.
Do not expect to sell tires or fill the tables in your restaurant on karaoke night. If you don’t believe me, remember that the same week Facebook went public; General Motors dropped their ad contract with them. They did it for a reason. Did they really think that people would buy $40,000 cars because they saw a one paragraph blurb on the right hand column of a page full of cute kittens wrestling in a paper bag?
Which reminds me. Facebook went public in May. Mark Zuckerberg is now officially a billionaire. Too bad nobody else is. In less than a week shares of Facebook dropped by about 25 percent of their value. Is it a bust? Nasdaq says they mishandled the deal. I am sure that the FTC and some other government groups will hold hearings and point fingers.
Meanwhile high school kids will continue to use it for what it’s best at—passing answers in a test. What? You say smartphones aren’t allowed in class? Yeah. Right. That never happens.
What does amaze me is the power that social media really does have in one tragic area—bullying. Are our young people today so sensitive that calling them a nasty name online can drive them to suicide—amazing.
Surely in this age of digital technology, we can teach our children to hold a better, stronger opinion of themselves than some other dummy who can tear it down in the few words they allow on Twitter?
Which brings me to another thought. Last month I listed some of the things we are living without thanks to smartphones. Things like watches, maps, calendars and snapshot cameras. Well now I am beginning to wonder if everyone in Hollywood has fired their press agent. No longer do we hear that stars and other personalities have released a statement about a wedding or divorce or the passing of Donna Summers. Now we know only hear what they Twitted. This is the town crier of the 21st century.
In many cases I see the whole thing being forced. Radio and TV contests no longer ask you to call or send in an entry. Now they expect everyone to Twit or find them on Facebook. (Hey, it’s not free if I have to buy a desktop and get a smartphone hooked up to it, subscribe to an Internet service and pay for electricity to keep it all charged.)
Now let me take you back to those people who think they have to do business on these social hookups. I could be wrong but it seems to me that there is a new system just about every month. And many of my friends are sending me messages asking me to join up. Hey, anyone who knows me can call me. But the idea that I will join a half dozen different social business connections in order to do business with them is pretty narrow, if not foolish.
Like CB radio back in the 70’s, this too shall pass away. Remember MySpace? Many were on it, but as other things came up, the old got replaced by the new. Too many social sites means too many slices in the old pie. You want to find someone? You may just as well call them. You’ve got the number; besides, it’s a real time communications. You don’t have to wait till tomorrow to get their answer to your question. And then make them wait another day to hear from you.
The day will come when things settle out and we have a way of selecting one person to communicate with or select a functional for or mass communication to speak to many.
Basic things like paper and pen, or the telephone will rise up again and declare that they remain dominant—as they should.