The Social Game

6 Jul

Who here has played what I like to call, The Social Game? If you’re reading, you’re probably playing it right now.

You know, that game where you pretend to be interested in what someone else has to say? Or the other version where you pretend not to be interested, meanwhile you’re totally stalking their profile/blog/stream etc? Or maybe you’re one of the ‘Facebook Friend Collectors with so many ‘friends’ you wouldn’t actually recognize half of them? There are so many variations of the game now, it’s impossible to keep them straight. But regardless, at some point or another, we’ve all played. Yes, even me, so please don’t think this is coming from atop some moral high ground.

This post has been stewing in my head for at least a few days now, with all the talk of local ‘influencers’, all the PR/Marketing events being thrown/posted about, even the revival of my little soapbox here – it all leaves me wondering about the game: what it means, who it makes us and who wins in all of this.

Sure, it’s relatively harmless, but it somewhat depends on the type of player you are. Do you use social media as a means to open up to others in a way the you couldn’t in a real life social situation? Or do you use it to make connections with new and interesting people? Maybe you use it as a means to mask the person you are when the lights go down? Or maybe you just do it to get ahead in your career/social circles/personal life?

Maybe it’s just my natural born cynicism, but I think there are a lot of people who aren’t true to themselves when it comes to social media. Which is somewhat ironic considering the purists of social media will tell you that it should be all about authenticity and transparency. In a lot of cases, we don’t know who we are, so how can we be authentic? And in others, the only thing transparent is the thinly veiled attempt to ‘act’ authentic.

So who wins and who loses? The winners are pretty clear: Those who use social media to bolster a sense of confidence, meet new people and expand their experiences beyond their geographical bubble. The losers on the other hand, might be a bit harder to spot, but in my opinion, it’s those who lose use it as a crutch – who don’t know who they are, who are afraid to find their ‘authentic selves’ if you will, and who look to social media to fill that void for them. And my guess is there are a lot of those out there.

Or maybe it just doesn’t matter like they taught in elementary school: It’s not who wins or loses, it’s how you play the game.

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