May 20, 2012

Read my web column about social media at the Nonprofit Quarterly. I just rant and rant about the excessive hype.

And here’s more: I was listening to Sherry Turkle, professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT. Turkle writes lots about technology. Here’s what I heard – in my words:

— We want Facebook to do the work of connecting for us. But it really can’t.

— We want social media to do the work of conversations for us. How sad. True conversation is so much more than social media. Read Theodore Zeldin’s beautiful little book Conversation: How Talk Can Change Our Lives.

— Our response to social media is lots about FOMA (fear of missing out).

— We’re fleeing from real connection, deep human interaction. Instead, we embrace the quick, transient, ephemeral links of social media. As Turkle notes, “connection is different than a bond.”

— Turkle also noted that we’re “never where we are where we are.” We’re with a group of friends but we’re texting others. We’re at a board meeting but we’re doing our email.

Read The Atlantic‘s article, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” Consider these research facts – not personal opinion – research facts!

— “Facebook users have higher levels of total narcissism, exhibitionishm, and leadership than Facebook nonusers…. In fact, it could be argued that Facebook specifically gratifies the narcissistic individual’s need to engage in self-promoting and superficial behavior.” We create a persona, the person we want to be. That’s what we display in social media…the desired self, not the true self. The Internet allows us to mediate a distance between ourselves and others.

— “Our online communities become engines of self-image, and self-image becomes the engine of community.”

— “What Facebook has revealed about human nature…is that a connection is not the same thing as a bond.”

We all know that social media is relentless. And self curation is constant. Lots of connections don’t produce a group. More connections don’t create meaningful relationships. Relationships are messy. That’s life.

But there’s something else sad about social media, the Internet itself. We cannot remove the past. In real life, we change. We leave behind, hopefully, our follies and mistakes. People grow and can change for the better. But the Internet never forgets. So the new and better you and me…thwarted, compromised.

Read Sherry Turkle’s book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. I think this is a must-read for all fundraisers and digital staff and the CEO, too.

P.S. I just love it when others criticize social media – or at least question it. For example, check out Jeff Brooks‘ infographic, 03-09-12. I hope you already subscribe! And read Jaron Lanier’s book You Are Not A Gadget or Maggie Jackson’s Distracted? Two big shockers. Enjoy!



About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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