A rant: time spent WITH social media does NOT equal competence IN USING social media

"Dave and the Boone's Farm" By Jax House on Flickr

One of the most asinine things in the so-called “social media community”* is the tendency to equate time spent with social media to competence in using social media. The operative thinking seems to be that more–more Tweets, more status updates, more gorging at the social media buffet in any form–is something to be celebrated. Not only is this silly, but it ignores some important questions: what’s the quality of the information being shared by the most ubiquitous social media users? Why do these people have so much time to spend on social media, and not on other things? And, a related question: what are they not getting done as a result of spending so much time with social media?

Evaluating social media skill based on time spent is a little like evaluating someone’s skill as a wine connoisseur based on bottles consumed. True connoisseurs sip and sample before deciding what truly deserves their attention based on quality. What they refuse to do is to drink every possible drop from every possible source, with no regard to how doing so will  affect their judgment–or even their ability to function.

When it comes to social media, however, bingeing seems to be rewarded. Take Klout, for example: argue all you want about how Klout’s algorithm factors in influence, sharing, and the like, but the simple truth is that the easiest way to game Klout is to spend more time screwing around on Twitter. And what better way to spend more time screwing around on Twitter than Tweeting about all your activity on Klout?

It’s time for us to start making better judgment calls about what content is worthy of our time and attention, and what is simply filler. When are we adding something of value to the conversation, and when are we just putting more out there for the sake of getting credit for being present? When are rewarding others for doing the same without any regard for the quality of their content?

*A phrase that’s pretty asinine in itself, as social media use becomes more and more universal. You don’t hear people referring to themselves as members of the “telephone dialing community” or the “email sending community.”
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