Kanye West – ever famous for being somewhat outspoken and never shy – has recently sparked up yet another conversation. This time, it’s with the question: what would happen if our lives weren’t so defined by numbers?
In a world that’s becoming slightly Black Mirror-esque, social popularity is becoming more and more important. So much to the point that not only has social media become a big part of our lifestyle, but also in our careers. Which i’m not saying is a bad thing by the way, part of my job includes social media management – and I love being able to use platforms to make a difference. The way that it should be used.
Where the social media issue lies
The issue lies wherein we’ve become almost totally independent on our social channels. Speaking from a 21-year old’s point of view, I feel as though sometimes my likes – on Instagram for example – validate whether what I have to say is worthwhile. Which is sad, but unfortunately true.
This is exactly the point that Kanye has recently raised. Though his tweets are renowned for being often whimsical and rarely sensible – similarly to how a stopped clock tells the right time two times a day – sometimes he really does get it bang on.
And though we shouldn’t (even though we do) derive our self worth from our ‘follower’ count or ‘likes’ toll, he absolutely has a point. It’s an unhealthy habit that a lot of us have. So calling for all numbers to be completely omitted isn’t at all a bad shout.
Are there merits to metrics? Sure. Follower and like counts can help approximate credibility.
More often than not, the accounts that most Twitter users deem worth following are likely to have higher follower accounts (alongside the highly-recognised-but-in-my-opinion-pointless blue tick (since when did an icon decide whether we were worth people’s time or not?!)) – and that’s the truth. At the same time however, there are many exceptions to that rule. There’s a (very big) handful of viral accounts with millions of followers that mindlessly gurgitate shoddy content. I won’t name and shame them of course, but I can sure think of a few.
And the sad fact of it is that smaller accounts, that aren’t boasting follower counts in the millions, are often those with the more purposeful and valuable content. But in this numbers game that we’re all playing, the emphasis so often isn’t focused on content, but rather techniques that are deployed in the hope that our numbers go up. It’s too often more important to people to post something that will be popular and gain a high engagement, rather than content that will really resonate with your audience and add value.
And when you really stop to think about that … it’s a weird, potentially damaging, way to live.
But what can we do now?
Throw our hands up in the air and shrug it all off?
It feels as though we’ve all reached a point where the numbers are in control. I mean, for the most part my blog stats are what encourage me to carry on – so i’d be a hypocrite to argue anything other than this. Are we stuck in this rut, cemented in our ways? Honestly – i’m reluctant to say it but, I think so.
We can address the issues that lie within social media, sure, but let’s be honest – it’s never going to go away. We’ve established a life for ourselves where these platforms are incredibly important and influential to us, so we can’t bid goodbye to them all together.
What i’d love to happen is for us to have a day, or a week even where all numbers are completely purged. Gotten rid of. It would be a sound social experiment if nothing else. How many people wouldn’t be arsed to tweet anymore? And how many would come out of the woodwork with great content that they’ve held back on in the past in fear of it being quickly disregarded?
@Twitter. I’ve given you an idea, now let’s get the ball rolling 😉.
The good of social media
Well it exists for something doesn’t it? And there must be a reason it’s so popular.
If there’s one thing social media is good for – let’s not discredit it all together – it’s for giving people a platform in which they can be heard on. Most people are sensible with this and exercise their right to free speech in a non-damaging way (there’s a handful of idiots that abuse it sure, but you’ll get that kind of behaviour anywhere). And if you’re lucky enough to not live your life by numbers, then social media can be a great way to share your thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Not only this, but social media is a great way for raising awareness. For brands in particular. Whether content is proactive or reactive, social media is a great place to spread messages – and the PR personality inside me couldn’t imagine life without it. When we’re talking about numbers, the more followers you have, the more chances you get at spreading your message. So in that way, I guess numbers are a good thing.
I think it’s one of those things that’s never going to be truly put to bed. There’s always going to be the heavy advocates of social media, those that would rather see it gone for good and the people that sit somewhere in the middle, like me.
Another ongoing debate amongst the oh-so-many that already exist in PR… Just what we need!
The one thing I would say though, and with total finality, is that numbers aren’t everything. Whether it be concerning your job or your personal life, your follower counts should not portray who you are as a person – despite what general discussion and your own personal anxieties may have you believe.
Numbers do not, and never will define your worth – so don’t live your life by them.
What are your opinions on this whole social media number debacle? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me. I might even include them in this blog.
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