This morning, around 5:45 a.m. I was doing my usual routine. Had my coffee in hand, two hoodies on (um, who invited fall?) and was sitting on my front porch in the wonderfully tranquil predawn darkness checking my emails and Twitter stream. I opened a DM from a friend of mine – someone I consider a mentor in this space as well – and found the snarkiest, most sarcastic and superbly dark humoured note I have ever read, in reference to yesterday’s post about depression.
Well, I lost my coffee. Total spit take. And then I laughed so loudly that I’m surprised I didn’t wake the neighbours. This friend/mentor knows my sense of humour, which also skews dark – I’m giggling as I write in fact – but the joke provoked a serious comment: that there has been social media backchannel chat about the recent Trey Pennington blog posts and tributes, the issue being that they somehow seem self-serving.
No Right Or Wrong
We back’ed and forth’ed a bit about it, and eventually agreed that there really is no right or wrong way when it comes to social media and sharing your thoughts online. You’re either going to make someone’s day or make someone’s eyes roll. In fact, when I said this felt like fodder for another post, I joked “..unless that would be seen as double-plus self-serving!” Eeep!
Seen And Heard
Seriously though, isn’t social media by it’s very nature self-serving? It’s about shares and follows, popularity and presence, influencers and ‘thought leaders’, SEO and ROI. It’s marketing and branding (personal and otherwise) and sales leads. You don’t become a social media rockstar without having worked your butt off to make yourself seen and heard. And you don’t become Mashable without ruffling a few feathers every now and again in your quest for eyeballs.
Eyeballs drive your brand and the more clickthroughs and page views you get, the better your sale’ability, whether you’re Facebook or Joe Blogger. And tragedy grabs people’s attention in ways that most other news could only dream of. It’s been two plus weeks already of 9/11 reporting and magazine covers, and we’re only September 7th. Arguments around commemoration -vs- exploitation are usually extremely subjective, and definitely personal.
The raw and honest posts and stories that were published in the wake of last week’s tragedy were moving and provoked conversation about the serious stigma around mental illness. And that can only be a good thing. If they were shared, or linked to, or commented on more than your run of the mill posts, well, that’s simply the way social works. The story was, with no disrespect to anyone, big news. And big news has been passed around and shared since humankind gained the capacity for conversation.
What do you think? Are people too quick to jump on the tragedy bandwagon? Did you feel that the chatter around the loss of Trey Pennington has been self serving? Disrespectful? Please leave your comments below.