According to Shakespeare, all the world’s a stage and the men and women merely players. When it comes social media, however, people often fancy themselves the star of the show – and in this digitally saturated world that’s not necessarily an inaccurate belief.
When one ventures into using these socialized technologies – whether you’re speaking to an audience of one, one hundred or one million – individuals’ voices matter. More to the point, when you do have a voice that rings true, you can go from being an everyday person sharing personal stories with just a few friends, to someone whose personal journey gains the attention of millions.
Overall this is a good thing. The idea that anyone with passion for a subject has the means by which to share their views and over time can grow their audience and become someone of influence is an exciting one. Never before has our society been in such a configuration where the average Joe (or Josephine) can become as influential as, if not in some cases more so, than the more traditionally famous folks on the news and in the media. We all have the power to perform on that stage.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that not everyone uses on-line powers for good. As I’ve written here before, the world of ones and zeros is rife with bad behavior, but that’s not the only missed cue in the big picture play of social media. There’s also the dangerous inclination of people to assume a greater sense of ownership or control over things than is reasonable to expect. Phil Campbell, a UK-based social media expert who was one of the early adventurers using video online, described the phenomenon in this Tweet. Somehow for some people the very act of their on-line performance becomes something other than what it really is.
Among the definitions from Merriam Webster for PERFORMANCE are the “execution of an action”, “something accomplished”, “the fulfillment of a claim, promise or request.” With that, I proffer this cautionary guidance to those daring to tread the boards of the social media stage – never lose sight of the fact that while we each take our turn in the spotlight, the truth and indeed the real power of social media lies less in celebrity or ownership and more in remembering that, like life, social media is an ensemble performance.