Panel: To Tweet or Not to Tweet

UBIK, Alexander McNabb & Danish Farhan at the Pavilion panel talk.

When I first joined “social media,” Facebook was just over a year old. I was more excited about my .edu email address than my high school diploma. Today, social media is open to everyone; cats, dogs and babies included. But why? And do we really need it as much as we think we do?

Social Media helps pay the bills at Xische. But when our CEO Danish Farhan was invited to moderate a recent event at Pavilion, “The Social Web: To Tweet or Not to Tweet?” we didn’t want to have the same-old conversation. Sure, social is imperative for business. But what about in context of individuals?

Oversharing and Privacy

Instagram recently launched a food filter. “Really, guys?” social media strategist and author Alexander McNabb asked, “You’re sitting down to a 5-star dinner and you’re going to let it get cold because you need to put a photo of it on instagram first?”

Oversharing can be annoying to your friends (we’ve all unfollowed someone after one-too-many cute-kitten photos), but it can also be dangerous. “If you haven’t yet, go to pleaserobme.com,” Danish advised. “This site compiles data from your Twitter and Foursquare check-ins to analyze the perfect time for someone to rob your house: your two week vacation in June? Your Thursday night yoga class? Dinner with friends on Tuesday?”

“When my son was born, I created a Facebook account for him, as a social experiment, and I would post comments from his perspective” Danish said. “He’s just two years old now, and he has over 1,000 Facebook friends, compared to my 600. And only 100 of those friends are ‘friends in common.’ So who are all of these people?”

Content: Consumption or Creation?

Social media has given us an outlet for creativity on a scale never before achievable. If only we are able to rise to the challenge. In fact, the amount of us actually doing unique and creative projects with social media is astonishingly low. Dubai-resident graphic artist and panelist UBIK is up to some interesting stuff, but that is one Facebook user in 3 billion.

“I started noticing that you could tell a lot about a person by their cover photo,” — — said. “Some people have sunset photos, some are quotes, some are travel photos. So I’ve started making a digital collage of them.”

Note: re-posting a meme is not being creative. Apologies to George Takei.

“Whenever I am invited to speak at a University here, I try to tell the students how important it is to tell their own stories,” Alexander said. “The Arab world is really bad at telling its story. Instead, we are spending our days regurgitating what everyone else is feeding us.”

“It usually takes me about ten to fifteen minutes to read an article online,” said UBIK, “But I see friends sharing links 2 or 3 minutes apart, and I ask them, ‘What did you think about that story?’ and they can’t answer, they didn’t read it. They’re just sharing the link.”

Not only are we forfeiting creativity for consumption, we’re faking that, too.

Productivity

What do all of these hours spent reposting “Keep Calm” quotes, blocking baby-photo-abusers and crafting witty and ironic drivel mean for our productivity?

“We are quite possibly the least productive generation yet,” Danish said. “Thanks to social, more and more adults have ADD.”

And yes, I have been checking Facebook as I write this. Guess which state boasts the most million-dollar homes? California!

“I was asked recently for my opinion on a company in Abu Dhabi that requires staff to turn over their cell phones before they enter the office,” Alexander said. “For once, I didn’t have an immediate reaction.”

“Some companies have addressed the social issue by blocking Facebook and YouTube at the office. Then a board member will ask us, ‘What’s this social media thing, and how much does it cost?’” said Danish. “It is always to same two questions.”

So you don’t want your company on social media, but you want your company on social media. Okay.

Social in the Future

Regardless of what science fiction writers think (for some reason, social never appears in the future), Social Media is here to stay.

Businesses need to get on board, because if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Employers are going to have a find a way to deal with the fact that their employees are going be on social while they are at work.

And the rest of us need to get smart and get creative.

Leave a Reply