30/6/20183

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Liked: Beacons of virtual proximity...

"In an era where our closest friends don’t live on our street, much less our city or country, these little, oft-overlooked and sometimes-subtle markers of proximity are small lifesavers. They tell us that though we may be far away in distance, we are close in spirit and in fondness. They tell us that we are part of a community that will be there for us in our times of need. They tell us that people love us, they notice us, and that by noticing them, we send them our love, too."

I love this!

Perhaps that's all we need to be - a little availability marker saying "I'm here, you're not alone."

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"On this day" reminded me that it was 10 years ago that I wrote about "the 5 C's of social media" - arguably my most successful post in the history of the blog.

I had listed the 5 C's the day before but wrote them up in depth on this day back in 2008:

  • contribute
  • comment
  • collaborate
  • conversation
  • community

Over a year later, as the influence of social grew, I added a sixth: culture.

Why is this my most successful post? Not because of stats. Not because it created opportunities or work (it didn't.) But because it started something, an idea that grew and spread way beyond its beginnings. It's been re-used, reworked, re-imagined so many times over the years.

It was a play on the classic 4 P's (and later variants of the 4 C's) of marketing and written at a time when a lot of people didn't really understand what social media could be used for or why they should be on it. My goal for the early years of the blog was to promote social use and help it become a mainstream channel.

Perhaps in spite of me, rather than because of me, it did.

I called the 5 C's opportunities, chances for us to achieve something - and many have. Some have made firm friends or found significant others, found work and entirely new careers, joined groups and started movements. That is what I always envisaged social could do, those were the opportunities I hoped we could create a decade ago.

But with the good comes the bad.

Listening to the Jay and Farhad Show yesterday, when talking about Twitter, they mentioned a quote from Bill Cosby which goes like this:

I said to a guy, "Tell me, what is it about cocaine that makes it so wonderful," and he said, "Because it intensifies your personality." I said, "Yes, but what if you're an asshole?"

Social media is a technological drug that intensifies personality. We can see just aspects of a person, they may play a role or adopt a specific pattern of behaviour. This behaviour can get channeled, intensified becoming reactionary, escalatory, caught in destructive loops.

Some see social as an opportunity to insult, chide, belittle, lie, their comments and contributions destroy rather than create. The groups they join and movements they start are based on fear and hate.

But I still believe in the opportunities for good, for connecting, collaborating for the betterment of the individual and society. I look back to what I wrote ten years ago and am reminded there is hope, there is good amongst the vitriol and bile.

I just don't believe the major networks have the will or wherewithal to fix things which is why I left and sought a different path with different opportunities that more closely aligned with those original 5 C's.

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Maybe I'm being unfair, maybe things can't be fixed. Human beings have such capacity for creativity but have also always had an equal capacity for cruelty. We might like to think we have evolved beyond this but perhaps it is our baser instincts in control - survival of the fittest, by any means necessary.

We are still a relatively young species but our creativity could be our undoing just as much as our cruelty. We have moved beyond just needing to protect and feed the tribe - in these times of climate change and ever growing population the tribe is now the whole of humanity.

We need to seek out the right opportunities and maybe that means doing our own thing, finding our own way instead of relying on (and being slaves to the ever changing whims of) these large entities.

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