Thursday, August 13, 2009

Slow down: you appear to have a Socially Transmitted Disease

Peter Kim, coiner of terms such as the headfake and other online gems asked me about STDs: Socially Transmitted Diseases. 

We seem to all have different strands (memes?) of these STDs. My Sunday Styles folk will recall this is why Michael Malice developed Protocols, "fighting against this whole idea that everything people do has to be constantly chronicled."

But there's more to it. It's cliche to suggest we're excessively social because we can be. Insert stale joke here about someone blogging while you're disclosing a deep, dark secret, tweeting while they're eating breakfast, or Jeff Jarvising your customer service... STDs are multidimensional beasts. Gone are the days where attention, narcissism, or reputation-management drove our online behavior.

We're addicted to accruing followers and engaging with that community so much so that 2-hours of down-time on Twitter leads to fearful outcries that "social media is standing still" 

We're reinforced by the ability to cleanse our stream, for example getting huge rushes of adrenaline when you tap into the new ease of hiding irrelevant, yet active-sharers on Facebook. 

Dare I intervene with catchy labels for these STDs Engagamydia? Signaliasis?

Pete reminded me of the depression of unconfirmed friend requests and the exhilarating "whoosh" of sending an email on Mac Mail. Amazing how these new behaviors are toying with our brain chemistry... 

Sometimes we need to remember that social technology is actually enabling our organic, social instincts, not transforming us into a new breed of monsters. Remember: we're social animals. We strive to get along and get ahead, it's only natural to get excited about the increased amplification of our signals.

But like a pretty girl in college, take your time to develop and manage your ecosystem. Social media is a vehicle for social behavior, more Sedan than DeLorean. 

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