Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 10, 201210:17 PM

Self-Promotion And Self-Loathing In The Digital Age

I'm going to make a confession: I don't like the digital me all that much anymore.

I'm going to make another confession: I don't like the digital you all that much, either. I have two loves in social media:

  1. This blog.
  2. My podcast.

I also love reading the blogs of others and I'm a fond follower of certain audio and video podcasts. I feel like there is nothing more fascinating than the human condition, and when it is coupled with a niche interest and person who is passionate about creating content, I marvel at the power of social media and these connected channels. The problem comes in the self-promotion and pimping of that content. The problem comes when I follow others (and look at my own self-promotion) and it becomes abundantly obvious that - for the most part - all of the stuff we post on Facebook and Twitter can be summed up in two ways:

  1. We publish things in the hopes that people will think our lives are more interesting than theirs.
  2. We publish things in the hopes that people will think that our lives are actually more interesting than they really are.

It's time for courage.

The other day, I was watching my Facebook newsfeed. I was reading what people were posting, I was watching the online discourse and all I could think to myself was this: "I wish I had the courage to delete my Facebook account." That's no slight against Facebook. It could have been any of the online social networking channels. My friend - who has teenage children - recently remarked to me that, "social media is the most amazing thing in the world, until you have teenagers... then, social media is the worst thing in the world."

It's something to think about.

Some people are so great at social media. They curate, edit and create. They point you in the direction of wonderful and magnificent pieces of obscure content. They're excellent at sharing and caring. Then, there are people who are busy doing one thing: beating their chest and trying to create the most noise. I have the humility to look back and realize that while I would love to be more like the person who curates, edits and creates, it is often heavily unbalanced by my desire to get you to read my blog, listen to a podcast, check out something we're working on Twist Image or join me at an event I'm speaking at. I'm also pretty good at letting you know when I make some kind of media appearance. Ick. It's icky.

There is no shame.

Some may argue that if you don't toot your own horn, nobody else will. And, to a certain degree, this is true. But there's something happening in the social media channels that is making all of this narcissism just a little bit too much to handle. Andy Warhol would blush. Now, comes the challenge: how do we get our messages out there without being too self-promotional (while still being self-promotional)? Recently, I conducted a minor/innocent experiment. My typical routine is that I publish a blog post and then self-promote it on Twitter, on Facebook and on LinkedIn. In a few instances, I decided to write some blog posts and not self-promote them at all. They didn't get the same level of traction as the self-promoted posts got. So, what's a boy to do? And - by the way - did RSS die? Do we only find out about new blog posts and podcast episodes via Twitter and Facebook?

The Internet is a thing of beauty.

Don't get me wrong. While I can loathe my own Twitter feed or snarl at those who spend the majority of their time trying to look cool instead of trying to be real, I'm still willing to take it all in because of the vast wealth of amazing and independent content that is created with each and every passing day. I read Geoff Livingston's recent blog post, It's Not OK, and it gave me pause to self-reflect. Not only on my own self-promotional content, but the prism that I view the random musings of others. I can be overly cynical, sarcastic and downright rude in how I react to individual posts (I just don't express it publicly). I took a couple of days to back away from the feeds, take a deep breath, center myself and come back. No, I haven't embraced enlightenment or taken on a monk's like perspective, but I am going to hold myself -and others - to a higher standard. Yes, we each have to toot our own horns, but I'm going to do my best to focus on those who are adding to the collective, instead of those simply trying to add to their own ego.

Is this thing on? Am I alone in this thinking? Where are you at? 

By Mitch Joel