Kill Social Media! Kill it Dead!

burning-house1I know this will sound crazy coming from someone who spends 12-14 hours a day working and socializing online in social media (including writing for this social media focused-blog) but, boy I am really ready to see this sucker die.

In fact, I’ve personally declared 2009 as The Year of Killing Social Media (make a note of it) because it’s really time to put a fork in “social media” as a term, a concept and a professional field.

Bogged down by meaningless buzzwords and riddled with experts, social media is in danger of becoming just as tedious, as insular and as conventional as the much derided MSM, in just a fraction of the time.

Don’t believe me? Start a Twitter account, then tell me how long it takes before a bunch of  “social media expert” types start following you. I’ll guess about half a day. And it just gets boring. At some point, there are only so many tweets about transparency, about social media optimization, about the “semantic web” before you just stop caring.

This blog post at fanboy.com calls it “social media deafness,” and yeah, it’s happened to me. With all of the industry talk about social media, the enthusiasm about it, the potential of online communications to really democratize media is being lost in the noise of social media hype and navel gazing.

Don’t get me wrong, I do still love this stuff; I still read Mashable every day, I still talk about this stuff with co-workers and geeky friends, I still ogle my Google Analytics dashboard everyday and update my Twitter/FB status regularly. Hell, I am still blogging. It’s my job to know about this stuff, to do this stuff, to find out what the so-called experts think.

But I’m also tired. I’m tired of reading about the rules of blogging, about who’s really working their “personal branding opportunities,” on how to replicate the social media success of the Obama campaign to sell widgets or raise money for homeless puppies (note to all: unless your widget/puppy comes with Barack Obama, don’t even bother trying.)

I’m sick of the discussion of how to leverage the influence of social media for immediate profits, without any discussion about actually creating a dialogue with your audience. That’s just too scary for some folks.

If the future of social media means sitting around all day talking about one’s “retweetability”, then bump that noise: let’s burn that house down now. Or perhaps it will choke on its own hype, the way the dot-com boom did in the late 90’s/early 00’s.

Right now, “social media” is shiny and new for the general population that recently discovered Facebook and Twitter; it means executives are starting to take notice, at least superficially, and want to slap up a Facebook page and watch the money roll in.

What I am looking forward to is the day social media is fully and seamlessly integrated into the traditional media ecosystem; it’s already happening, for good or ill. This is the year we’ll see many print papers move to an online-only format, and adopt user-generated content into their mix. Millions of people already go online as their main source for information. “Social” media is becoming the media.

It can’t happen soon enough for me. But the novelty needs to wear off of social media, the shine needs to fade so that fads and buzzwords can settle into action and progress, and we’ll see media professionals adopt these tools as a regular part of their work. It will happen, mostly out of necessity.

I think the future is bright, once the social media hype runs its course, I am just eager for someone to pull the trigger so that we can watch the rebirth happen.

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