One of the mantras of Social Media advocates (of which I’m one) is the flatenning effect. It’s what I noticed a year ago (and wrote about here) when I was able to speak directly to directors, CEOs, managers and decision makers without getting asked “And who are you?” by a secretary before being refused to be transfered to the boss’ direct line.
I guess what it means is that you don’t need a business card – Social Media gives you a direct line.
And in this way, yes, I feel that the world is the flattest that it has been since Copernicus came on the scene. But still, things – and people – are not all equal.
I should point out that I don’t even think all people are equal. Yes, all people have equal rights and responsibilities towards other people, but we are certainly not equal. Firstly we are not equal in our make up. The whole thing of us being diverse and different means that we have different strengths that compliment each other and multiple our combined effectiveness. The second way we are not equal is in the value that we can impart. Yes – we can learn something from everyone – but we can learn more from some people than we can from others.
The trouble is that online we are quick to talk about this flattening thing – this equality, democracy and place where “no one is an expert” – but when it comes to reality, these ideals are not actualised. I’ve seen so many people who profess the notion of flattening on Twitter, but when it comes to putting steak on the plate – when you want to talk to them or get them involved in something – they certainly want to be on more than an equal footing than everyone else. They demand special treatment, special slots, and special time so that they don’t have to mingle with what they might as well call the ‘proletariat attendees’. They are very specific over who they will and won’t spend time with even though they profess a belief in a “flat” Social Media landscape.
Andrew Keen (despite all the purposely provocative talk) says very well that authenticity is the new power. Having spent time working as a television producer and also as a model, I know that everything in those industries is staged. So I often wonder whether this authenticity is staged, too. I remember Ashon Kutcher telling Opera (on the show were @ev set her up with Twitter) that Twitter meant “any person can be a celebrity” and that “any person’s voice could be as powerful as a newspaper” – Ashton of course was acting here and reading from the Social Media script – it isn’t true. In fact, the moment the word ‘celebrity’ was used I un-followed Ashton because I just am not interested in garnering celebrity from Social Media and Twitter, and despite what he says, that is what he’s using it for. His own words betray him.
On the other side of the coin, what really impressed me this week was talking to the keynote speakers at Like Minds. I had phone calls with them all, and I was astounded at how ‘flat’ they really were. They had no special requests regarding who they would and wouldn’t talk to. They are all thrilled to be running Like Minds Lunchtime Talks, hosting a conversation with 10 people they probably don’t know. Even when it came to the little luxuries like their favourite drink, room upgrades and the rest, they had no demands and were happy to for me to ‘do whatever makes it easiest.’ Chris in particular was so easy to sort out because he literally had no special requests, said he’d talk on whatever I’d ask him to, didn’t need time by himself, and just wanted to ‘get to know and meet new people.’
With all our speakers, both keynotes, panelists, moderators and our bloggers, this common trait is strong. Lloyd Davis, founder of Tuttle, said something very profound: “Tuttle isn’t for everyone, but it is anyone.” Amen. I understand now that people-to-people means that while we understand what we are doing is not everyone’s cup of tea, and that we can’t see everyone or speak to everyone, we are for anyone, and have time for anyone.
The Leading Question
- Do you believe in a flat Social Media Earth? Or rather – what in Social Media is flat, and what isn’t?
- How much of Social Media Authenticity is staged?