Yahoo!, Tumblr, Social Media and…Us

Well, there was big news in the social media world last week.  Super web portal and search engine Yahoo! acquired micro-blogging and social networking website Tumblr for a cool $1.1 billion. The purchase made me think of some other big changes in the social media landscape – Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, the rapid rise of web start-up Pinterest and, a bit further back, Google’s purchase of YouTube.  It gave me pause.

We are clearly enchanted by social media.  The technology is powerful.  The promise of instant connection with family, friends, business and services is irresistible.  What’s not to like?  And so, as media professionals, we keep an eye peeled for the next acquisition, the next mega-deal.  As social media consumers, we check our Facebook news feed and create our daily posts while earning our daily bread.  We send out a Tweet whenever we have a thought that borders on relevance.  We chronicle life with photos captured by our mobile phone, filtered through Instagram and shared immediately on multiple social media platforms.  We reach out to others constantly – or do we?  How much of our posting, Tweeting and “sharing” has become routine, done automatically and with little thought?

The capability of digital technology is incredible, and it becomes more so every day.  It’s all good, as long as we remember something that is so very important.  The operating word in social media is “social”, reflecting everyone’s need for community, friendship and meaningful interpersonal communication.  To maintain its value, our participation cannot become simply a matter of routine, something we do “because we can.”  As long as we remember that basic truth, social media will enrich our lives and continue to thrive.  However, the moment we allow ourselves to forget, social media becomes all about the technology and very little about – us.


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