Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Branding boot camp: The hidden danger of too much social media

Old news: The flood of social media is upon us now, and in response we have turned into a nation of narcissists.

It is as if we are all the proud parents of newborn infants - except the infants are ourselves. No trivial moment of our daily lives is too mundane to capture. From sunrise, to midday, to sunset and midnight, all of it is carefully documented on Facebook.

As I am not in charge of worrying about how much memory the Internet has, gunking up the system with Tweets about baby drool would normally not be my problem. Except that this kind of self-absorption is doing terrible things to our psyches, and so by extension our capacity to function in a competitive marketplace.

The primary dysfunction caused by all this narcissism is that we have lost touch with one extremely important thing: the understanding that there is a world outside our personal individual existences. And that it matters critically to appreciate other perspectives.

In the social media society, as always, what I feel, think and believe may have nothing in common with you. The difference today is that if you don't reflect back to me my own ego, my sense of self-importance, then you do not exist. Because I don't follow you back on Twitter, friend you on Facebook, or connect with you on LinkedIn. You're invisible.

Inconvenient as it may be for the ego, when you lose touch with other perspectives you become significantly less marketable. Both as a personal brand, because you can't understand why every possible employer doesn't love you, and as a marketer of products/services/ideas, for the same reason. You think everything you do is brilliant - they don't get it. Clearly, they are wrong.

Or not.

Here are 5 antidotes for a life where you are drowning in the mirror:

1. Turn the damn computer off.

2. Read something longer than 3 paragraphs or a bulleted list.

3. Exercise.

4. Volunteer somewhere where you must interact with live humans you can't possibly impress. (Spending time with family is good, if you can avoid talking about yourself too much and focus on them.)

5. Run a task force or committee where your input is not desired, only project and people coordination skills.

There are so many other possibilities. The bottom line is, get out of your own head once in a while and engage with the world.

Good luck!

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