“Let’s take the bull by the horns and quit using so many metaphors.” – Unix “Fortune Cookie,” brought to our attention by long-time correspondent Henry Hojnacki.
Among the more annoying symptoms of aging is being annoyed by areas of social decline those of us entering geezerhood readily recognize because of the perspective our advancing age gives us.
For example, as if climate change, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and generative AI aren’t bad enough …
In my youth we had the Gabor sisters, “famous for being famous” as the saying goes. Except, perhaps, Eva Gabor, who, in addition to being famous for being famous, became famous for playing Lisa Douglas on Green Acres.
If you’re too young to remember the Gabors, think Kardashians but with a modicum of class. I used to think that with the Kardashians we’d hit bottom. But we haven’t, because we now have “social media influencers.”
Back when the Gabor sisters reigned, they defined “fashionable” among a certain set of acolytes for whom “I want to be like her!” was their rallying cry.
At least they had class, so there was something worth emulating.
That’s in contrast to the Kardashians, who exemplify Rodney Dangerfield’s famous line in Back to School, “Call me some time when you have no class!”
But credit where it’s due: At least the Kardashians are famous and good at achieving it, so there’s some justification for emulating them among those who wish they were famous, too.
Okay, it’s a stretch, but go with it.
But social media influencers?
Supposedly, to become a social media influencer you first have to create content followers pay attention to. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I publish content every week that you pay attention to. (You do or you wouldn’t have reached the preceding sentence.)
Does this make me a social media influencer? As I consider the existence of “social media influencer” as a career to be a sign of social decline, the possibility worries me.
But I think I’m okay. A hallmark of social media influencers is that they want to be social media influencers. That’s their ambition and career goal. The sole value many of these folks deliver is little more than what celebrity endorsers deliver.
Which isn’t much, because of how many celebrity endorsers have no connection to the product they endorse – if you’re a NASCAR fan, do you decide which cola to drink because of which cola’s patch your favorite NASCAR driver wears?
Back in 1996 when I started writing the “IS Survival Guide” for InfoWorld, here’s how I explained what I was going to provide: “Suggestions and ideas that come from years of real management and executive experience managing technology; conversations with other managers and executives; discussions and debates with consultants, writers and academics; and just plain reading and thinking.
A lot comes from real-world experience of what works well. A lot more comes from real-world experience of what didn’t work so well.
The point, that is, was and is to provide useful perspectives that weren’t just like what every other industry pundit had to say on a subject.
Bob’s last word: That, I think, is what I find annoying about social-media-influencer as a profession: Fame is its point, not its byproduct, which means we, as a society, have decided to reward people whose sole claim to fame is that they’re adept at getting noticed.
Sure, I’d have liked to have “gone viral” (the 1990’s social-media-influencer equivalent) but that needed to be a consequence, not my purpose.
Bob’s sales pitch: No, I’m not asking you to help me become a social media influencer. But as I start to wind down Keep the Joint Running, you have an open invitation to peruse the archives and download copies of anything you find useful. The usual attribution courtesies apply.
This week on CIO.com’s CIO Survival Guide: “7 IT consultant tricks CIOs should never fall for.” It’s about how many consultants fix what’s broken by breaking what’s fixed, plus 6 other common consulting misdeeds.