You Are Not Your Follower Counts, Alexa Rankings, Etc.

Social media professional, Chris Brogan, meditating on the Internet’s impact on “time and friendship” wonders if a “social crash” may be imminent.

If I talk to 100 people on twitter for 6 minutes each, that’s 10 hours. If I respond personally to 120 of the 600 or so emails and contacts I get a day, that’s 2 hours. If I call 10 people for six minutes each to “catch up,” that’s another hour.
100 small Twitter conversations.
120 emails.
10 phone calls.
13 hours.
That’s not work. That’s not necessarily business (though touch and networking aids business). That’s just contact.

I like how Brogan says this is not “work.” Of course, for some people it is work, but for most all this daily hyper-connectivity is not work. Given that it’s not “work,” why the hell do so many people make such large investments in the social space?
“All the lonely people, where do they all come from?”
The truth is we have our identities tied up in this thing. And in many cases we’ve invested years of effort carefully cultivating these identities. For instance, I’m the AdPulp guy, even though keeping this site moving is only a small part of what I do. As long as I keep this particular ball in the air, I have an audience. Should I choose to let this ball drop, then I go back to being a relatively obscure ad guy.
Here’s the thing though, I make a decent living as a relatively obscure ad guy. Whereas, there’s no living to be made herein. In Brogan’s case his online identity is closely tied to his business identity. One might think that’s also the case for me, but it’s not. The advertising community sees me as an ad blogger, because that’s what I continue to show day in and day out. When there’s a need for such a person, I’m the one to call. When it’s copy or creative direction that’s needed, the call goes to the person who skilfully frames themselves as a copywriter/creative director.
Like Brogan, I struggle with the time commitment social media requires, but my struggle goes deeper. I’ve created an online identity that doesn’t pay and doesn’t fit who I really am. It feels strange to admit that, but it’s also a step in the right direction for me. AdPulp does produce for me on many levels, but it does not produce sustainable income. Maybe that’s okay. Only I can say, and I’m having a tough time concluding my argument.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.