Maybe I’ll be the cautionary tale for next year’s New Media Expo. I realized, We’re still talking about the same ideas and issues and “humanization” and bullshit from 2009. There were many great speakers today, but as I watched the Twitter feed and looked at online mentions, I didn’t see the revolution I was promised years ago. I just saw stale, old ideologies and shiny new books we could buy. I walked out at a little before 3pm and didn’t look back. A few examples of today’s presentations stuck with me on a purely visceral level. I felt angry walking back to my hotel room, because I thought we all deserved to share, learn and spread BETTER knowledge that led to something, anything more than, “get more clicks.”
We’re still trying to game SEO. (Only, remember that we won’t say we’re gaming SEO, because, “writing for robots is bad!”) What we’ll do is utilize tools to find out what the robots want, and create our content around it. “It’s content for PEOPLE, not robots,” I heard many times.
Unoriginality is king. I heard more than one speaker discuss how certain tools, could help us see exactly what our competition was writing about. And that we could simply, “write better than them.” Or, “Re-write their piece and re-direct commenters to ours.” If the goal wasn’t to write better content to begin with, what the heck are we doing in the first place. And really, why would you want to offer a carbon copy of the competition? Seasoned professionals sat in the room nodding as if this was a brilliant, new idea. (And, I won’t even touch on the speaker telling me to, “not be scared or feel intimidated by code. That’s how men feel shoe shopping.”) Sexism is hilarious, right?
This is what I don’t understand. If we’re innovators, why haven’t we innovated past 2009? We’re here to partake in the feast, but bring nothing to the table. And, it’s finally happened. Somehow, in between 6 years, (6 years?!) of beta testing, tweeting and facebooking, we’ve all talked a helluva lot, but done so, so, little. I think I hate what it’s all become. I can remember back to Livejournal and discussing gaining new fans and getting, “book deals.” That was at least 15 years ago.
It’s always the same scenario. A new tool will come out. We’ll worship it. The new tool will be a golden calf and we’ll write piece after piece and try to re-frame and re-angle each aspect of the tool for our profession, or passion, or to simply get more eyes on what we’re putting out. In a generous 9-12 months, that new tool will be old and we’ll start talking about how awful it is. It’s a terrible tool. God, hasn’t anyone realized how NONHUMAN this tool is? The masses like it now, so we must detest it. It’s so, terrible. It kills animals, or robots, or maybe it just bores us because we’ve learned it and now that other people know it too, we secretly hate that we aren’t first. Because, we HAVE to be first, or best. We’ll buzzword the crap out of the tool, or anyone who dares to stand up for the tool. We’ll throw in jokes and suddenly, we’ve created a trail no one can follow, (buzzworded bread crumbs that mean absolutely nothing, if you will,) because we’re apparently in high school and our insatiable need to lead at any cost can come at any price.
I watched the Justin Bieber’s of our profession walk around with an entourage this afternoon while I ducked in and out of sessions to take notes. There are greatly respected people in the Social Media Gurus Club. In 2008, most of the rising stars dared to tell us to tweet to people and not act like robots. We needed a reminder and it sincerely helped the masses understand that to be GOOD, you needed to be approachable and different. Social media is simply life. If we act like someone else, or a poor representation of who we are, we’ll lack meaningful and truthful relationships.
It’s 2014. It’s been quite a few years since 2008 and the stagnant pool that we look up to with our advisers and gurus, has become rather incestuous and bleak. Scott Stratton’s new book, “QR Codes Kill Kittens,” (note: not affiliate link.) has a great title, (because kittens, bacon and memes sell,) but it doesn’t have anything revolutionary. QR codes when used correctly are a fantastic way to create shortcuts and offer direction. When used poorly, they lead to poor UX and otherwise botched marketing efforts. Stratton’s insight that, “Experts are constantly telling us what we need to be doing to improve our businesses. Hundreds of books in the market are filled with advice from these experts. But how can you filter out all of the bad advice, misinformation, and misuse of business tools that is out there? None of us needs another list of what we should be doing.” For the sake of the kittens, Mr. Stratton, we really don’t.
I don’t understand it. Have I woken up from the Social Media matrix? Is this horrible realization going to ruin it all? I’ve followed the Strattons and Brogans of the world for many years, but I’m walking in a circle. I need more wisdom than the proverbial, “if it hurts you, stop doing it.” I can’t understand why we’re not discussing more collaboration, instead of the divide and conquer methodology that seems to be stamped on our profession in permanent ink. If we hate Klout, why haven’t we made something better? Why aren’t we on the advisory council at the Klouts of the world, to help inspire true movement? If our goal is to get a book deal and clicks, we could certainly get both, but at the price of actually DOING and CREATING something. I’m beginning to think it all comes down to this: We just want to get rich. The rest, we can worry about later.
Let’s wake up from the matrix and change our fate. If inclusion and networking mean something, it’s time to band together and inspire the world, once more.