Yesterday Jason Falls wrote about calls he was receiving from journalists asking him why social media keeps making people do stupid things. I hope he was able to get through to them because the media really needs to understand what social media is and is not.
Social media is not good or bad. It is not a strategy. It’s not marketing. It is set of tools that facilitate communication. Much like paper, it can be used to write War and Peace or a ransom note. Like a telephone it can be used by a kid to make a crank call to a neighbor or by the leader of a country to negotiate peace. Social media has been used to help liberate a country and to contribute to a suicide. Social media is benign in and of itself. But, it has the potential to be more powerful than our older tools. The highly public nature of communication and the speed at which it can spread are what’s new.
What happened with Anthony Weiner is a cautionary tale (one of many we’ve seen) and the lesson is that if you are using social media, understand what it is and what it can do. Educate yourself about it before you engage.