I Am Leaving Social Media

Joel Comm 

New York Times Best-Selling Author | International Keynote Speaker | Entrepreneur | New Media Marketing Strategist~ March 24, 2014

What I’m about to say is not going to go down easy. It won’t be easy to digest. And I’ll probably lose a few fans by speaking my mind.

That’s okay. I’m not afraid of controversy. And frankly, someone needs to say it. I’ll be the one to say it, and I accept the consequences of whatever happens as a result.

When I survey the social media landscape, there are some alarming trends that have become increasingly disturbing.

I’ll explain my reasoning, but the end result is that I am leaving social media.

I know, it seems bizarre for a “social media expert” to make such a seemingly abrupt tactical move. It may appear that way, but let’s take a look at what is happening in the social space.

1) The social media space is controlled by a few major players who are after one thing… your data. Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and Pinterest are all about numbers. How many people can they get to provide as much personal information as possible so they can sell you more stuff by releasing personal information to third party advertisers? We are all commodities to be marketed to. Facebook can put privacy controls on their site, but who are they kidding? They know way more about you than they would ever want to admit publicly.

2) While some conversation takes place on the social sites, there is more noise than ever before. Twitter is littered with fake accounts and bots. LinkedIn users who you never met plead for endorsements of their products or services which you never heard about previously. Facebook is an endless parade of feel-good sayings and photos of cats. Millions of posts, shares and tweets go out each hour, but the ratio of posting to listening continues to broaden. In the words of Pink Floyd, “Is there anybody out there?”

3) Social media has made it incredibly easy to be rude to other people. Insults, put-downs, and outright meanness has become a staple of the social culture. Whether the discussion centers around politics, religion, sports, entertainment, lifestyle or any other subject, people have been desensitized to basic human kindness just because they can’t see or hear the people at their keyboards on the other end of the fiber cable.

4) Other people have endangered their future careers or relationships by playing out their personal drama on social sites. Are we so far gone that there is no thought of the kind of information we share publicly without concern for how that information may come back to haunt us in the future? It seems to me that discernment is a quality severely lacking in the social space.

5) From a business perspective, everyone, their grandmother and their dog is now a “social media expert.” There is NO value in the label any longer. It is now synonymous with “I haz a twitter account.” I use the phrase on some of my pages just because I know that people will search for the term. But I choose to refer to myself as a “New Media Marketing Strategist.”

6) Spam spam spam spam spam. So many are using social sites as little more than billboards to sell their products or services. This has become so prevalent that the majority of us have become blind to all streams of data, assuming that we are going to be bombarded with advertisements.

Am I culpable in this charade? Yes. After all, I wrote the world’s most popular book on using Twitter for Business. But that was several years ago.

That’s why I must leave social media.

Now don’t get me wrong. Social sites have some great benefits.

I enjoy connecting with family and friends.

I enjoy making new friends and sharing content with them.

I enjoy posting photos of my own life, especially when I encounter a tasty meal or catch my cat doing something cute.

I confess that I enjoy feel-good quotes and infographics.

I know I am giving up a great deal of privacy, yet I continue to post, like, tweet and share.

It’s a daily obsession. I’m connected at my computer and on my mobile devices. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t updating my status or commenting on someone else’s.

That’s why I’m thinking of leaving social media.

Of course, social sites have become a primary source of news for me. After all, I don’t believe any of the mainstream media are the least bit trustworthy. Their whole purpose is to sell toothpaste.

So while accuracy on social sites can be a stumbling block, at least I can be relatively certain that while what I am reading may not be factual, it’s at least not being propagated by Proctor & Gamble.

Citizen journalists are slowly transforming the way we receive and interpret current events. But who directs the conversation? Millions of people all striving to have their voice heard? Is this what freedom of speech has come to? Let’s face it. It’s a beautiful mess.

That’s why I wonder if I can get away from social media.

But up pops a “like” from something I just posted. It’s followed by an encouraging comment. Then comes the holy grail of social approval, the “share.”

Do I live for the approval of others? Is my ego so fragile that I crave the pavlovian response of warm fuzzy feelings that result from a like, comment, share, favorite or retweet?

Do you?

What if Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus ceased to exist? Would the human race survive without the habitual behavior we have become accustomed and addicted to in just a few short years?

It’s for this reason that I must leave social media…. even if for just a few hours.

But I just saw a new “Walk off the Earth” video on YouTube. It’s very entertaining and I want to share it with you.

And I just happened to catch my cat in the cutest pose. I’ll want to post that. Perhaps I’ll instagram it at the same time that I pin the picture of the bacon purse I saw on that humor site. I’m sure you’ll all want to see it.

And someone posted an article that I have a very strong opinion about, so I guess I’ll engage and leave a comment.

To make matters worse, the people that I know, like and care about won’t stop posting. It wouldn’t be right for me to ignore them, would it?

In the time that I’ve written this post, I’ve left social media. But now that this article is over, I think I’m ready to jump back in. I’m over it.
Nobody really escapes social media.

The online world has become a meaningful, yet flawed, method for interacting, dialoguing, engaging, debating, sharing and experiencing our world and our relationships with others in real time.

It’s not perfect, but it’s the world we live in. I believe it is possible to disconnect, and the day may come where the negatives of social media truly do outweigh the benefits.

But for now, I feel no different than the five-year old who threatens to “run away from home” and doesn’t get any further than three houses down the street. I’m back. And I’m not going anywhere.

Did you miss me?
What about you? Do you ever get fed up with social media and feel like walking away from it all? I’d love your comments and feedback below. And, of course, the share buttons at the top are there for you to use as well.

(This is a repost from my blog which was posted late last year. Since LinkedIn now allows publishing, I thought I would put it here as well.)

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