Social Media: A Good Step Backwards?
With Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, recently commenting that privacy is no longer a social norm, you couldn’t blame some people from being afraid of social media.
Change is scary, and losing anonymity is a big change, especially for those who were brought up under very different philosophies (anyone under 30) and those who are at least mildly introverted. However, I think these people can take some relief in the fact that social media might just alter society for the overall good; you know “good old values”.
“People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.
We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are.”
The advent of social media has ushered in a new paradigm where being part of an online community could eventually be mandatory for survival. My colleague, Chris, quipped, “In case of emergency use social capital” (and then wrote a great blog post about it).
He’s right, Social Media is leading online what we in the developed world have, as a whole, failed to do outside of the internet. The ethos proposes that we become better people; we ask what we can do for others without asking or expecting a return. Essentially, this is online karma where what goes around comes around. It’s not new either. In many cultures it was common practice up until not so long ago. For instance, Pacific North American aboriginals used to hold Potlatches (until they were outlawed by the colonials). This was an age-old tradition where the richest of the village would give away his riches in a multi-day celebration he would throw in the village Big House. It was a wise move for it meant that he would be remembered and, in his time of need, would be looked after by the village.
These traditions were born out of logic. The system couldn’t support massive imbalances in quality of life. Without a redistribution of wealth, some members of the community perish and without the long-term value that they bring to the system, the system itself would crash.
Through fate or fortune we find that effective social media marketing requires the same principles. Personal survival is a pretty good incentive. Could it kick-start a global shift in attitude that affects major social and economic change? Instead of trying to appeal to the hidden altruist in all of us, maybe all we need is a self-centered reason to start giving for us to realise that it benefits the whole. Maybe social media is that reason and, if so, maybe it’s a fair price to pay for a loss of privacy.