Social media has been officially embraced by the masses (that time when just about everything ‘jumps the shark’), which has lead to some really amazing opportunities for companies and brands. It’s been heralded as the catalyst for humanizing brands; it allows previously nameless, faceless companies to interact on a personal level with customers. Customers feel important and can now bond with their favorite brands.
But at the same time, what has it done to people? I think that while the brands have become more human, people have become less human. The common sense, empathy and general courtesy that we as people extend to each other seems to often fly out the window behind the thinly veiled digital barrier.
There seems to be a pervasive attitude that because you said something online, it doesn’t have the same impact as if you said it in person. Newsflash: it does.
People are posting all sorts of crazy stuff online that they would never have the nerve to say face-to-face. I have heard horror stories of workers complaining about clients, co-workers and projects on Facebook or Twitter, when the exact same folks they were complaining about could easily (and did easily) see that information.
I have personally, as have many other women I know, received very inappropriate DMs (direct messages on Twitter) from very well known- and in many cases, very married- males. These are things that none of these “men” (I use the quotations for a reason) would have the balls to say in person.
And I have seen the disintegration of face-to-face relationships. I have seen people engage more with their mobile devices than with the people in front of them at conferences, networking events or even dinner.
It’s amazing how technology can move some things so far in one direction and other things so far in another. Let’s try to keep the social in social media and not let technology make us less human.