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My Dear John Letter to Social Media

Dear social media;

When did you lose your way? I feel like I’m in the middle of a dysfunctional relationship.

Social media, you’re a bad boyfriend who doesn’t pay attention to me anymore because you’re too busy trying to catch the eye of the hotties at the bar.

When I joined this world back in 2007, you were fresh and new and unexplored. When the waters were uncharted and we all just had to feel our way around to find what made sense.

We weren’t selling anything.

We weren’t trying to get more listeners, followers or subscribers.

We were just making friends.

We were revelling in how cool it was to connect with someone on the other side of the world in real time.

There were no social media strategies.

There were no digital marketing manifestos or analytics analysis or infographics.

There was just us, and it was a beautiful thing.

Nowadays, every time, I mean EVERY time I see you, social media, I feel like I’m being sold something.

Oh sure, some people cleverly disguise it as things like “caring”, or “speaking human”, or “engaging”. But come on, we see right through that, darling.

The more connected we become, the less social we actually are. #pureblogging

If someone has 200,000 followers on Twitter, can they really say they “care deeply” about each and every one of them?

If 80,000 people subscribe to someone’s newsletter, and that someone says they’d love to hear from every subscriber, do they really mean it?

No. Not if their ultimate goal is to sell something.

Then, they really only want to hear from those people who are actually their paying customers. This kind of disingenuous behaviour cannot continue.

I am not trying to be a cynic, sweetheart (it’s not in my nature). But I am trying to say that I think we should see other people.

I think that social for the sake of social is a dying art.

Social for the sake of selling has completely overshadowed any remnants of that, and as much as it breaks my heart, it’s time for me to move on.

Is there any hope of making up? I don’t think so. I think we need to find new roads.

For me, I’ve mostly withdrawn from the World WIDE Web of connection and gone back to my roots – the friends and family around me that I genuinely care about.

But, you say, how will this help you get ahead in business? Well, you’d be surprised, social media.

99% of the referrals I get for my business are from people I already know.

Even if I fake “care” about people on social media, that doesn’t get me much, except kind of a queasy feeling that I’m not really being myself.

Of course, social media, I can only speak for my personal experience here. I know you are so loved by other people.

Heck, you have been amazing for some of my clients; life-altering, even! But it doesn’t change how I feel inside, about MY experience with you these days.

I have come to a place of acceptance that the online days of yesteryear are now behind me.

I’ve made the decision to break up with you, my old flame, and focus on those relationships that actually mean something to me.

I hope you’ll understand in time.

Love Always,

By Susan Murphy

Susan Murphy has been blogging since 2006 and has participated in social media actively since 2007. She's Head of Social Media for the Cracking-Up the Capital Comedy Festival, a non-profit organization that raises awareness and funds for mental health in the Ottawa community.

Comments (4)
  1. Danny Brown September 21, 2015 at 8:46 am

    Hey there Suze,

    Completely with you on this one (and one of the reasons I started this Pure Blogging project).

    I’m a marketer by trade, so I do use social for selling, acquisition, retention – all that fun stuff that business does. But there’s a way to sell, and then there’s a way to sell obnoxiously.

    Take that aside for a moment, though, and I just find social all about the “me” part of media. Links, blasts, update after update of how awesome (the generic) you are, and how you’re on yet another list, and look, you’ve just uploaded another selfie from that conference no-one really gives a crap about.

    It’s why I’ve withdrawn more from social, and concentrated more on blogging, and Facebook, where I limit the amount of “friends” I have to those I’ve either actually met, or would want to.

    It may not be as interactive as I used to be a few short years ago, but it’s definitely more fulfilling.

  2. Rosy Villa September 21, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Thank you for this! So much

  3. Liz Scherer September 21, 2015 at 10:21 am

    For those of us who were the so called social pioneers (terrible term), everything old isn’t nothing new. I find myself gravitating more and more toward the digital disconnect. While I never gave up the real world for the bubble, I do spend less and less time on it except for business.

    I don’t think that its lost its way; rather, it took an inevitable path. I still have hopes that it will all settle but in the interim, I’ll settle for the daily dips and focus on the real stuff.

  4. Judy Lee Dunn September 22, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Well, this hit home. I have written that Dear John letter myself a few times. But I always seem to take the toxic, controlling guy named whose name starts with “F” back. Actually, he if quite good at luring me back (because what if I miss something when I’m away?).

    I tend to waste too much time on social because there are so many sites with interesting articles out there and I am curious—about everything. Probably comes with the curse of having been an educator and being addicted to that lifelong learning thing.

    As a service business, I also need to remember that there are lots of businesses out there that cannot rely on relationship-building and word-of-mouth to survive (I’m thinking of retail and product-focused businesses). But personally? I am at the saturation point with my social media involvement and am ready to cut back myself. Excellent, thought-provoking post, Susan.

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