Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 28, 2009 6:42 AM

You Self-Serving Pig

It's all about me. Me, me, me, me. That's all you ever do is talk about yourself. Stop talking about yourself, will you?

If there's one cultural point of interest that is quickly emerging from the online social channels and platforms, it is that you can't "win friends and influence people" if you all ever do is talk about yourself. It comes off as self-serving and much too self-promotional. It also incites readers and community members to spout off the infamous sayings, "what's in it for me?" and "what have you done for me lately?" - which is funny in and of itself. If you think about it, why should someone's personal Blog, Twitter feed or connection on Facebook be about anything but themselves?

In fact, wasn't the whole point of these channels to promote what is on your mind?

The big question that gave Twitter its wings was, "what are you doing?" not, "what can you do for me?" When Blogging started it was called, online journaling. The very definition of journaling is that it is autobiographical therapeutic writing. It is not intended to be a form of content that is necessarily useful to anyone but the person creating it. What initially attracted people to places and platforms like Blogs, Twitter and Facebook was the voyeurism - the ability to be that "fly on the wall" for another person's personal therapy.

Are we losing touch or are we just getting bored of the self-interested blather of others?

We still enjoy hearing all of the juicy details from certain people that pique our interest, but a lot of the backchannel feedback (anecdotally gathered) is that people are less inclined to stay subscribed and connected to others who are simply promoting themselves and what they're up to. People seem to want to get some kind of value and information out of their connections. Essentially, it's not about what the content creator is really thinking, because it's really about what the person reading it gets out of it. Now that everyone can publish their thoughts (and that it is easier to do), it's not as interesting to hear, read and see what others are up to when we can be publishers and share our own thoughts.

If we believe that these channels are amazing for the development of Personal Branding, we now have a paradox of monumental proportions.

The shift has already taken place. The top Blogs are either places to publish news faster, multi-authored platforms geared towards commentary on politics and technology, or individual spaces where people are, essentially, publishing magazine-like articles for free. This new culture, where anyone and everyone is now some kind of publisher, is fascinating. Readers now have little appetite for advertising, sponsored content or even a semblance of what could be misconstrued as a form of non-disclosure if the content producer should ever talk about something they were given, offered or are working on without disclosing it fully. We now expect people who were simply journaling their lives to become more like Bob Woodward.

So, the question is this: how do people build and develop their personal brands, if all we really want is content that is valuable to us and not self-promotional in any way, shape or form?

How does that work?

UPDATE: Just saw this: Mashable - STUDY: Social Media Is for Narcissists.

By Mitch Joel