Jan 24, 2009

Social Media Is Still Only Social If You’re Alone

There’s a lot of hoopla around the CNN/Facebook pairing during the inauguration and I admit to participating in it both as a user and as a blogger.

But before we get carried away with calling this is dawn of a new era, let’s remember why this proved to be such an attractive option: the inauguration was a daytime event that took place on a workday. That means a whole lot of people were alone in their offices and welcomed the chance to interact with their friends.

If those same people were home, watching the inauguration with their families and/or friends, they would not be talking to people on Facebook.

Okay, maybe in certain dysfunctional families they would be, but you get the picture. Twittering, status updating, blog commenting all involve taking yourself out of whatever real life situation you are in and inserting yourself into a virtual one. It’s every bit as annoying and disrespectful to the other people in the room as the coworker who feels compelled to answer several personal cell phone calls in the middle of a meeting. And let's be honest: most people's real world friends are not going to stand for that sort of narcissistic behavior.

TV/Social media integration is great for shared events like the Super Bowl or the Oscars and a real boon for anyone without a viewing companion. It’s even a great way to do a quick, discreet check to see what “everyone else” is thinking. But as vital and useful as they are, our virtual communities are never going to replace our real ones. And those of us at the forefront of the social media movement only look foolish when we insist otherwise.

In other words, it's time to put down the Kool Aid.

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