The Moral Dilemma of Social Media Success

Occasionally I publish on Freesia Lane a business article that I wrote for my marketing company. This is one of those times. It’s not just about business. It’s about who we want to be – our persona – on social media. cm

I have a moral dilemma: If you know how to gain stardom, but you also know that it is contributing to the decline of the American Empire (not to be confused with the Roman Empire, whose citizens didn’t have Twitter and Facebook to add to their woes), what is your obligation to your fellow countryman?

At the time of this writing, the tweet in the picture accompanying this piece has been online for 12 hours. It has 151 retweets and 919 likes. The numbers continue to rise; in the last hour, the number of likes has risen by another 100, and the retweets are up another 10. The retweets are now responsible for the new likes; the original post has long since passed through the current feed of those who are following me, but every time it’s retweeted, it refreshes the tweet as if it were just posted. This could go on for another 24 hours, and should make this tweet’s reach somewhere in the hundreds of thousands.

One tweet, from little old me — whose following on Twitter is made up of only 42 kind followers who are mostly friends — was able to get a tweet out with a reach, according to twitter stats report of more than 78,000 readers. How did I do it?

Well, I met Rosie O’Donnell when Blue Shoe Strategy was doing the promotion for “India’s Daughter.” There are a number of showings in New York City, most with a celebrity attending to either lead a panel, interview the director, or just talk about their support for the film becoming an Awards Season contender. Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, and Katie Couric have all made appearances, but the one who showed up the most prepared was Rosie. The one who asked the most compelling questions — and follow-ups — was Rosie. The one who really “felt” the film was Rosie. I was absolutely bowled over by the commitment I saw in her at the screening, and was impressed by how much more “present” she was than any of the other celebrities in attendance. I began following her on Twitter, and she actually started following me as well, but she never engaged with anything I posted.

Yesterday I tagged her in this post of mine, in which I called on the Russians to hack Trump’s SAT scores and publish them for the benefit of the American people. It’s a clever post, if I may say so, mirroring Trump’s call for the Russians to hack and publish Hillary’s emails — but the post itself has zero value. It’s important that I say that loud and clear: The post, which now will have tens of thousands of people engaging with it, has no value.

At the same time, I sent Rosie another tweet reminding her of who I am. I thought it might legitimize my clever post.

Rosie liked my post about Trump and retweeted it. She also commented on “India’s Daughter,” asked for an update, and commented on the update as well. She did not retweet that tweet. But that tweet, by the way, has value. It includes an article about how the men accused of killing Jyoti in India have lost their last appeal and will be put to death. It contains important information, and shows real growth around women’s issues in India.

So, here I am, a day later, pondering the dilemma of our historical moment in time. My Trump tweet fuels the fires of hatred toward a man who has given new and unwelcome meaning to “speaking your truth.” It’s a shiny object that is “clever” (Blue Shoe’s own Frances described it as such), and in my opinion, it is a waste of the time belonging to anyone who reads it. It has zero value. It moves no one in any way toward accomplishing anything.

But, I am expanding my own writing and trying to be heard more. I know how to get your attention. I have just demonstrated how. Do I ignore the marketing value of worthless, possibly damaging rhetoric in order to find a following, and then sprinkle in the content I think is worth your time? Or do I stick to my guns and my loyal following of 42 people, and ignore what will possibly lead me to Twitter fame?

This is a pivotal moment in history. If we continue to move toward shiny-object discourse, leaving less and less room in our day for substantive, thought-provoking discourse, will it eventually destroy us? And, if I believe that to be the case, how do we go about avoiding it within the confines of what we know is working in today’s communication template? I don’t know the answer to this question; I just thought I’d put it out there. If you want to follow me on Twitter to see what I do now, it’s @ChristinMer1. Namaste.

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