Social media: are we missing an opportunity?

I still remember my first time in New York, a long ago, it was 2001. It was stunning an unusual to see all those skyscrapers high in the sky, shining at the sunlight and giving that sense of infinity and possibility.

The same sense I felt when, later on, in 2010, I went to New York to look for an apartment: I was moving to the Big Apple, for work. But that second time something more caught my attention: the different races and the different people (for the way they dressed and the languages they were speaking. I immediately thought “wow – it must be beautiful to live here, it has to be such an incredible richness to be able to meet so many different people and come across so many different cultures. It’s such a continuous learning!

After a while, I noticed that opportunity was not actually a shared richness out there. Such different type of people actually lived their life in different groups, typically you can see groups of similar people.  Some other groups take advantage of this diversity and learn about new cultures and exchange ideas with both like-minded people or people whose origins made them think in a different way.

As you know, I am on social media (I mean I work on social media and I use social media) since 14 years. In the beginning it was a somehow closed environment, because of the lack of Internet connection. It was not something commonly available in every house. Today there’s almost no house without internet – or at least, let’s say so, there’s almost no person who does not know about social media (and the majority, like it or not, are on social media).

In the past few years I think on social media it’s happening something very similar to what I noticed in New York: we have multiple touch-points, brands and artists are out there, media are out there and you can (at least virtually) at your fingerprint: social media have helped people connect with what, back in the 80s or 90s, they were only used to get close in front on a TV screen, yet being on the other side of the screen, and with no chance to interact with them.

Some of those “on the other side” have ben pioneers of social media, despite the nature of their business/job was not tech-related. Those understood people were carving for a chance to interact and they also understood – like it happens in our everyday life, with our everyday relationships – how important is to listen, first, if you want to be listened to. Some of them understood that the key part of social media was the first word: “social”. People were in contact with media in the 80s, so that was nothing new.

But what it’s interesting to notice today on social media is the attitude of people. The way they interact. The way they interact with each other and with brands or with the media.

Try yourself: take a random page. Take a Facebook post of a random newspaper. Read comments.

I do this exercise from now and then. But I feel like I felt in New York when I saw that missed opportunity: people have a huge potential: they can learn from each other, they can share thoughts, they can tell what they think and appreciate now they have a chance to be part of what’s happening around them. But they – the majority of them – choose to be harsh, criticise everything. I was watching a video of a Japanese chef yesterday – so nothing related to politics, pollution, no animals or vegans. He was slicing a vegetable. No groups offended in any way.

Yet, someone commented it was pointless, or probably to expensive, after those cuts, to eat that vegetable. Seriously: are there out there any positive people left? Anybody interested in catching the opportunity of social media to build a better future instead of missing this opportunity?

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