Is Social Media Making Us Dumb?


This post was also a featured story on SocialMediaToday.com:

http://socialmediatoday.com/richblank/154394/social-media-making-us-dumb

The explosion of social media has been nothing but a phenomenon. Communities, twitter, facebook, linkedin and other networks allow us all to instantly share articles, thought leadership, books, tweets, PPTs, news, events, and more. And the more we engage in social media, the more I’m starting to wonder if social media is actually making us smarter and more enlightened OR if we are simply becoming dumber by the day.

While I see tremendous value in the online links and information and articles that are shared into and throughout my social networks, social media seems to be influencing the world with “NBC Today Show”-like headlines and content containing lightweight, high level fodder and sound-bytes from whatever happens to be your knowledge domain of choice. While blogs provide fantastic ways to share insights into communities of interest, more and more the posts I see are generally less than 400 words, conversational in tone, and read like “Top 5 Ways…” or “Top Reasons Why” to promote sharability.

I also see social media trending towards the 60 minute webinars and 10 minute videos and tweets of less than 140 characters to capture people’s attention, promote your services or product like an online infommercial to capture sales leads and create brand awareness. I see individuals simply updating their LinkedIn profile with so-called books from their Amazon reading list just for the sake of sounding intelligent and creating a perception that they actually stay current on the latest trends and buzzwords like Tipping Points or Flat Worlds or Synergistic Change. Of course we are all soooo busy that there is no way we have read or even will attempt to read these books.   I also see the latest tweets from the Harvard Business Review being shared around and emailed throughout our social networks as if we are some enlightened thinker of strategy and management with some inspirational message of change.  And then there’s Ted.com…an addicting site of speeches & lectures from REAL thought leaders and experts throughout the world…and who doesn’t “heart” Ted?  Of course social media now allows Ted.com junkies to share online lectures and speeches like a drug dealer handing out free samples on the street.

Let’s face the fact that because of social media, everything is starting to look and sound like Cosmopolitan Magazine and USA Today headlines. Now I will admit I too am guilty of proliferating this trend to simply keep up with the “Jones” as the experiment of social media evolves and becomes “mainstream”.   The reality is… because of social media, today anyone, at any level, from anywhere has access to the same sound bytes of information as you. Maybe your niche is technology or six sigma or project management or talent management or even information management!!! … Social media allows anyone to act like an expert, pretend to be an expert, and promote themselves as an expert. Because of social media….we just might be proliferating the Dilbert principles we all know and love so well. We are possibly becoming dumber and allowing the mediocre to gain a competitive advantage or at least sound like they actually know what they’re doing or are an expert in their respective domain.

What say you? Are you jaded in your thinking like this? OR are you enlightened and encouraged by all that social media has to offer?


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