The Paradox of “kicking smartphone addictions”.

It’s amusing that people think of “kicking smartphone addictions”. We now have a decade of experience in the current social media landscape. We have a decade of using smartphones rather than feature phones. In effect we have had a decade to adapt our lives to the age of the ubiquitous smartphone. We can ignore the Blackberry and Nokia ages where phones were for phone calls, playing snake and business rather than pleasure.

Those that see social media as a disease usually have partners.
Those that see social media as a disease usually have partners.

People who see smartphones or social media as addictive usually have one thing in common. They have a “partner”. They spend their free time with a specific individual. “It’s about finding balance. I became conscious of what matters to me, in my life. My smartphone is still a part of it, but it’s no longer the boss.” I have never been addicted to the device as such. My passions lie with what I can do with the device. I was passionate about Twitter when it was a social network. I was passionate about facebook when it was a way of keeping up with friends.

If Twitter and facebook become ego-networks for marketers and public relations professionals then the “addictive” aspect of smartphones vanishes. As social media goes from a conversation to a broadcast and a monologue it delivers another opportunity. It gives us the chance to go back to reading books. As we no longer “socialise” with smartphones the “addiction” is gone. We loose nothing by spending time “offline”.

You don’t need to give up the smartphone or any apps. If you’re like me you can pick up an e-book reader and replace Facebook and twitter with reading. If you’re going to passively read an e-book reader is an interesting alternative.


The Frankfurt School of thought and blaming social media.

When we were at university studying the media we learned about the Frankfurt School of Thought. We studied Adorno and others. We learned about the public sphere and more. I see a lot of articles today discussing whether we live in a post-fact and post truth age. Social media are given the blame but this is over-simplistic. In the Frankfurt school Knew Trump was coming Facebook is blamed for the proliferation of fake news when it is an aggregator rather than the source of disinformation.

For years the American news industry has shifted increasingly towards entertainment and audience rather than fact and context. As a result of that shift mainstream media in the Anglo-Saxon world has been dumbed down. Through putting commercial interests ahead of hard news mainstream media have lost some of their authority. By authority I mean trustworthiness and fact based reporting.

Rather than look at social media as the culprit I would look towards Fox News, Sky News, the tabloid press and right wing propaganda. Assange, Snowden and others wanted to undermine the democratic party and in so doing undermined Democracy as a whole. As a result of that undermining they encouraged people to shift their media consumption habits from hard news sources towards opinion news sources where facts were optional.

Lies have long legs: they are ahead of their time. The conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power, a process that truth itself cannot escape if it is not to be annihilated by power, not only suppresses truth as in earlier despotic orders, but has attacked the very heart of the distinction between true and false, which the hirelings of logic were in any case diligently working to abolish. So Hitler, of whom no one can say whether he died or escaped, survives.

If Adorno were to look upon the cultural landscape of the twenty-first century, he might take grim satisfaction in seeing his fondest fears realized_

We see this as a key discussion point today with Trump, Brexit and the defeat of the Si vote in Italy. Lies are spread and reinforced so that empty promises win campaigns, rather than logic and reason.

_The failure of Facebook to halt the proliferation of fake news during the campaign season should have surprised no one; the local hirelings of logic are too enamored of their algorithms—and of the revenue they generate—to intervene_

Social media did not fail. The Fourth Estate failed. We have two choices. We can read the over-simplified sensationalist crap or we can delve deeper to the content that is based on fact but may put us to sleep. Not everyone is reading news for entertainment. Some of us switch between media sources to avoid being narced (pardon the diving term). We see certain sources are anti-European on a daily basis so we switch source, we switch language. Social media is not the problem. Blind belief and trust is the problem.

I hold a strong belief that the study of history and the necessity for people to study current affairs are essential. I also believe that educational systems need to encourage people to think critically and to understand the media landscape. They need to understand how propaganda works and how disinformation can go into a positive feedback loop whereby lies become truth. “positive feedback loop” in this context is a term taken from environmental science. It describes how a small negative change, over time can gain in amplitude and feed into itself.

_Fake news is an extension of the same phenomenon, and, as in the Napster era, no one is taking responsibility. Traffic trumps ethics_

For years people have worried about privacy but from what we see today privacy is not the problem. Disinformation is the problem. Mainstream media and their audiences need to be more critical. They need to read numerous sources and use ethics and morality to see which sources they trust and which ones they disregard.

It is too easy for


Black Mirror – A television series

Black Mirror – a television series

Black Mirror is a television series that was broadcast by Channel 4 a few years ago and made available to Netflix audiences recently. The series explores a variety of topics and issues to do with technology from death to crime and existentialism. It also explores themes like family and friendship.

We spend a lot of time thinking about technology and how it has changed our lives. Sometimes it’s fun to watch 80s series to see the world as it was before computers and the internet and sometimes it is fun to watch dystopian essays or short stories exploring facets of modern life.

In modern society we see that social media is affecting the discourse that is taking place between politicians and normal people. We see how social media and the lowering of the barriers of entry to the fourth estate have created a golden age for propaganda and disinformation. We see in The Waldo Moment that a CGI bear can mock the political system. It could be directly related to what we have seen happen recently.

Be Right Back deals with online identity and how a person can be emulated once they have died. The question is an interesting one. The more active we are on social media the more our character and personality can be understood and reflected back. This is limited. We are not entirely ourselves online. There are some things that we hide from the online world.

In Fifteen Million Merits we see a dystopian vision of the world where everyone lives in a small dark room. They get out of this room to go and peddle for a few hours to get Merits. Once they have 15 million merits they can “apply” for a different kind of job via a talent show.

Nosedive explores popularity and social networks. Everyone is constantly being rated based on what they share, how they interact with others and more. In such a dystopia people can progress or lose privileges based on reputation. In such a reality people are vulnerable.

A vertovian theme is explored in “The Entire history of You”. An implant called the Grain records your entire life and you have the ability to fast forward and rewind moments of your life. In so doing you can analyse what went well, what went badly and more. You can also see more than you were intended to see through other peoples’ recorded experiences. In this episode we see the Kino-Eye, the all seeing eye. Your life is no longer private.

I like some of the themes that are explored in this series and I recommend people to watch at least some of the episodes. I feel that they are relevant to our discussion about social media and online lives.

Post-fact Britain

I was in the graduating class of 2000 with 99 other students representing more than one hundred countries. As an individual I already have three nationalities and four identities. I am British, Italian, Polish and a foreigner living near Geneva, Switzerland. As a result of this mixture I said, when I was in Tanzania in 1999 that I was European because that was the simplest way to describe my identity. When I first heard about the Brexit Referendum months ago I thought that this was so stupid that I thought it was not a serious project. It did become a serious thing, especially in a post-fact Britain.

Because these narratives typically involve a selective use of facts and lenient dealings with matters of truth, they have given rise to symptoms of a post-factual democracy. A democracy is in a post-factual state when truth and evidence are replaced by robust narratives, opportune political agendas, and impracticable political promises to maximize voter support. source

For months I saw that The Guardian and other newspapers were heavily critical of the European Union. You couldn’t read an article from their website without getting the feeling that Europe was a terrible place. This bias, this message encouraged me to switch to French language media to get a less biased, less anti-European narrative. The Guardian is relatively open compared to the British tabloid press. The British tabloid press lied and misled its readership. Twice The Sun lied about the Queen supporting Brexit. Twice it suffered no consequences.

It is well known that Murdoch is anti-European. Few men have done more to fuel anti-European frenzy than the Australian-American media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, owner of several newspapers and the UK’s most important private television news channel. In his book How Britain Will Leave Europe, former Minister for Europe Denis MacShane describes how former Prime Minister Tony Blair considered holding a referendum on adopting the euro, only to renounce the plan for fear that the “shadowy figure of Rupert Murdoch” would use his media empire to campaign against it. Source

When you control the media it is easy to push your agenda forward. Conspiracy theories are always about how our privacy is being invaded and about how our phone conversations, e-mails and other communications but few of them address the problems of indoctrination or brainwashing. They rarely look at the message that we are being given on a daily message. We have to ask “What is the root message that we are getting?” In the United Kingdom the root message was “Europe is bad”. Imagine if the BBC, The Guardian and other news sources had provided both sides.

The website notes that as an EU tier 1 area, “companies can benefit from the highest level of grant aid in the UK”. Earlier this year the sports car company TVR announced it would build a factory and create 150 jobs there. Will it still come? Will the Circuit of Wales, a multimillion-pound motor racing circuit a private company has been proposing to build on the town’s outskirts creating 6,000 jobs? Will the £1.8bn of EU cash promised to Wales for projects until 2020 still arrive? source

Imagine if the Fourth Estate in the United Kingdom had been used to provide people with clear examples of how the EU was investing in the UK. Imagine if instead of focusing on getting people to vote Leave the British media had provided a complete and unbiased view of the European Union. Wales voted against the EU and yet this article shows that they had a lot to gain by remaining within the EU. Between 2014–2020, Wales will benefit from around £1.8bn European Structural Funds investment. Source . 

In his first public comments since last week’s historic referendum vote, the owner of newspapers including the Times, Sun and Wall Street Journal said leaving the EU was like a “prison break … we’re out”… Source

There was a period when we could read about the imbalance in wealth and investment between Rural England and London. This imbalance was making people uncomfortable and one of the reasons for which the BBC decided to become decentralised was to address this concern. It is interesting that for a number of months the BREXIT campaign has focused all of that dissatisfaction at the EU rather than London. In a 2010 article by the BBC we find this sentence: But even fans of London admit it is too expensive, too dirty and too crowded. And its critics say that it sucks talent, money and opportunities out of the rest of the country. sourceBrexit has not resolved this issue. Could this explain why around 7 percent of the British population have emigrated from Great Britain?

According this this article 4.9 million brits emigrated from the United Kingdom to live as migrants in other countries. This figure is from the UN population division. In theory I am British migrant as I live outside the United Kingdom. Brexiters (I will not play their game and call them brexiteers) made such a big song and dance about migrants coming to the UK and yet  British people are the single most mobile population in Europe. In Switzerland you can’t go a day without meeting Brits. Can you imagine the backlash if Europe decided to behave like England did?

I believe that people spent so much time worrying about privacy that they forgot to think about the prominent message in the media. They were groomed to see Europe in a negative light and voted accordingly. By choosing to provide people with the message that they wanted to hear the Leave campaign won. In a Post-fact Britain the checks and balances to hold brexiters to account failed. A campaign was won on lies and instability has resulted. The silver lining for other nations is that pro-european sentiment has risen. They have seen what a farce anti-European movements are.


Quora and lateral thinking

Recently I saw the question “Why can’t I charge my mobile phone while riding my scooter?” on Quora so I decided to provide the answer that you see below. In my eyes my answer is legitimate. As an ingress player, as a scooter driver, and as someone who has done what I describe in the answer below I do not see why it is not a valid answer. Quora and lateral thinking are not synonymous. It would seem that Quora users do not like lateral thinking.

Downvoting legitimate answers
Downvoting legitimate answers

This is a legitimate answer because within the ingress playing community everyone that I have met uses an external battery to recharge their phone whilst out and about. Some of them carry the battery in a pocket, others in a bag and yet more of them have a special case for the bike so that they can play the game with ease whilst moving from portal to portal. If you haven’t played Ingress on a bike then you should definitely try it.

To have a reasonable answer downvoted by a user of Quora degrades my motivation to contribute to the site. I was once threatened with a ban for providing a link to back up and source what I had written. A second time I had personal attacks for writing a question to a questions asking for thoughts on a topic and now I see this downvote to a legitimate answer.

Social networks and online communities should be about open and free discussions where peoples’ thoughts and opinions are valued. When they are not valued then the return on investment for community members declines. It also discourages people from contributing to the community. Ideally you should highlight what you like and ignore what you dislike. By ignoring what you dislike you offend no one. You discourage no one.

Quora stats

In the grand scheme of things I have had 153 upvotes and only one downvote that I am aware of. This should not discourage me from using the network in future. I will take a break from the social network once again. Other social networks are more inviting, more open, more stimulating.

Facebook Disengagement

Facebook disengagement by those I know has become so serious that I have decided to take a break from the social network myself. For many years this was a network of people I knew and spent time with in person. It has school friends, uni friends, activity friends and social media friends. For many years it was a place to socialise, share events and images. From the moment Zynga polluted Facebook with Farmville the conversational aspect of the social network degraded. As the conversation declined the sentiment that Facebook was a waste of time became a reality.

Facebook users no longer use the network to share their lives and converse. They use it to share sensationalist rubbish. Aside from Social media marketers Facebook has become a ghost town. As normal people no longer use the social network you are saturated with sensationalist rubbish. Facebook has become the preserve of the lowest common denominator. It has become a tabloid news distribution network and those who enjoy intellectual stimulation have moved on to other networks.

The content has declined in value to such a degree that I felt myself turning in to a troll. Every second or third article that people share is sensationalist rubbish and I feel the urge to call it rubbish. I don’t want to offend individuals so rather than do this I will take a break.

Social networks are about people connecting and conversing. It is about sharing what inspires us both through the adventures we have and through the links we share. Every article and headline should inspire us. For as long as social media practitioners focus on telling us how to feel rather than provide a description of the content of articles I will stay away.

Conversations are personal and current affairs articles should be factual. When a network like Facebook no longer has conversations and when articles are emotional the world is upside down and the model is broken. It is time for social networks and social media to become personal once again.

It amuses me that I write this about facebook. I wrote the same about twitter a few months and years ago. Social networks and their strategists keep making the same mistakes.

Social Media and The Human Return on Investment

Social Media and the Human Return on Investment, because contrary to popular belief we use social networks to socialise, not to shop.

As we grow older and more mature our close network of friends changes and evolves. We go from school friends to university friends and then to professional friends. In the process we move from a village to another village, from a town to another town and eventually from one city to another. In the process the links we have with some friends strengthen and others degrade over time. This is modern life.

I find it hard to discern whether the return on time invested on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and others is decreasing because people’s understanding of these social networks is shifting or whether it is related to growing up. As the people I know get married and have children their priorities change and privacy becomes more important. We have to keep the children safe.

Facebook, as a social network is less engaging than it used to be. The people I have as friends post less frequently, the events we can participate in together is shifting and the content shown in timelines is evolving. To compensate for the decline in friends engaging in social networks like twitter and Facebook people are following publications, brands and news sources. This flow of information is tailored to the lowest common denominator. The sensationalist writing style discourages me from following these sources of information.

I have a concern that what were social networks until two or three years ago have become advertising networks on which people occasionally socialise and interact with other individuals. I feel that a bigger and bigger portion of the time that people spend on advertising networks is looking at mainstream content and comments. On Facebook as I scroll down the timeline I notice an increasing number of adverts. Personal posts are less and less frequent. Has the community left this “social” network?

I have spent years thinking about online communities and how they interact. During this time I have seen the ebb and flow from one type of community to another across multiple platforms and applications. Within the next two to five years social networks will be virtual reality environments such as we saw with World of Warcraft, Everquest and Second Life. The question is whether people will want to socialise in virtual reality or whether it will be populated by gamers.

Every online social network is stigmatised. This stigmatisation prevents people from fully exploiting the potential of social networks. We see this stigma through the use of dating apps rather than Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks. Dating apps are stigmatised but at least you swipe left or right and you’re done. ;-). You’re only “active” for a few seconds at a time. On Facebook and twitter you need to be active for hours, days, weeks or even months… You have to be careful. You may be stigmatised. 😉

Now that most people see social networks as a waste of time it gives us more time to do other things. It gives us time to read, to do research, to watch television and even to go two or three hours without looking at a mobile or computer screen. Imagine that. 😉

I believe that on the one hand the stigmatisation of Social networks as a waste of time has discouraged people from using them to their full potential. As a result of this people feel comfortable spending ten to fifteen minutes a day on these networks. On the other hand I see marketers, public relations specialists and advertisers push for their campaign to be seen. As peer to peer communication goes down and human return on investment (ROI) decreases, and as marketing campaigns take over the timelines they are effectively closing the door on people’s motivation to spend time reading through their timeline.


Narcissism and the World Wide Web

According to a New York Times writer, Narcissism and the World Wide Web are increasing. “Narcissism is increasing…

If our egos are obese with amour-propre, social media can indeed serve up the empty emotional carbs we crave. Instagram and the like doesn’t create a narcissist, but studies suggest it acts as an accelerant — a near ideal platform to facilitate what psychologists call “grandiose exhibitionism.” No doubt you have seen this in others, and maybe even a little of it in yourself as you posted a flattering selfie — and then checked back 20 times for “likes.”

Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and others grew from a desire people had to connect with others. In it’s golden age both Twitter and Facebook were about dialogue and conversations. They were about mutual respect and listening. During the Golden age of social media we would get to know people so well via Twitter and Facebook that when we met in person we felt like we had known each other for years. For introverts and more reserved people this was excellent. We could hide behind the screen until we built enough trust and confidence to meet the person behind the username.

Fast forward to 2016 and the wrong people have been heard when it comes to social media and it’s purpose. Many people have the false notion that social media is about self-promotion and self-aggrandisement. This is incorrect. Social media is about dialogue and personal connections. I only follow people who will converse with me should I comment on one of their tweets. The images I share are of the beautiful world around me. Facebook is a network of people I have studied with, worked with or met at various conferences.

There are a number of topics that the article should have explored. The first of these is solitary living. How many of those who use social media live in a house or apartment alone. The second question is whether the commute to and from work allows these people to have a social life and meet friends once the work day is over. The third topic to explore is whether friends live next door or in another country. My friends are distributed around the world, from Australia to Europe and the Americas and Africa. Imagine keeping in touch with such a broadly distributed network of friends.

Social networks and social media, rather than lead to narcissism are encouraging the opposite. They are encouraging people to share their personal life with friends distributed around the world. It is because we live in McLuhan’s global village that social media play such an important role. Remember that just because one attractive woman has a million Instagram followers liking her pictures does not mean that there are not a thousand other people sharing images with a small network of friends from social media.

Don’t let yourself feel stigmatised for being a social media user. Connect with new people. Share your passions. Don’t let the Luddites question your motives.



Social Media and the Lizard brain

I wanted to write about Social Media and the Lizard brain. My experience of information technology and Social Media is that it is a great tool for people from different backgrounds to come together and have a calm and logical conversation. Some people believe that “we need a social media with heart that gives us time to think.” I strongly believe that the culprit is not social media but rather the way people are taught to think in general and how the stigmatisation of online interactions has led people to feel negative when using social media.

With a smartphone in your hand, System 1 thinking becomes the dominant mode of thought. Nobody can handle the volume of data in 2016 without relying on ifeelings to come up with instantaneous responses, often triggered by how you see others reacting. There is less scope for deliberation and discussion – the pressure is to make a snap judgment and move on. I love this film, this article is deplorable/fantastic or politician X is a welcome breath of fresh air/duplicitous bastard.

This is an erroneous view. The World Wide Web is a powerful social tool because it allows us to think for a week or two before posting a reaction. Imagine that you are reading a printed newspaper article and you are offended. You write a letter the same day in the hope that it will be published as a reaction to the article. You react without the time to think. Once you send the letter it cannot be edited.

Social media and the World Wide Web allow two things. They allow you to read around the subject. Rather than write based on anger and emotion you can study the topic you are responding to. You can write on reaction, you can rewrite it. You can share that reaction. You can change your mind and you can delete it.

I find it an interesting paradox that articles are written about how Social media require us to use the lizard brain rather than reflect when I personally find the opposite to be the case.

System 2 thinking is slower and more deliberative. You marshal evidence, you exercise judgment, you discuss with others and you try to arrive at conclusions

When I am unfamiliar with a topic I go to Wikipedia to familiarise myself with a topic and there is a good chance that I will read articles on the subject. I really appreciate that in modern life when we find interest in a new topic we can either buy e-books or audiobooks in order to study topics in depth. We start the day with limited knowledge about a specific topic and by the end of that same day, we have enough background information to join the conversation.

To use a cliché social media is not the villain that people are making it out to be. Social media is a conversational tool and a democratising opportunity. When people are taught to think independently, when people are taught to reason, and when people are taught to research topics before writing a response they are productive.

I have a rule. If my response takes more than 140 characters I will drop by Facebook or Google Plus. If it is longer than a paragraph I will write a blog post. By following this logic, emotion is taken out of the post.

Marshall McLuhan talked about hot and cold media decades ago. Social media is a cold medium. The audience needs to do the work. The audience needs to fill in the gaps. Parents, Schools and Universities need to teach people to understand the limitations of the media they are using whilst at the same time teaching them to be critical, to find more than one source before forming an opinion. The problem is not with the medium but with the way in which people are prepared for the new medium.

The idiocy of the Hashtag

Every day I am reminded of the Idiocy of the Hashtag. Twitter is a conversational medium where the more we converse the more addictive the social network becomes. Every single @ reply was a reaction to what we said or shared. Connections between users were strong and so the network effect took twitter from being a strange experiment in 2006 to being a social network from 2007-2009. In those days we engaged with people directly.

Social media marketers, people with families and other priorities came to twitter and decided that they would indoctrinate people in to seeing twitter as a broadcast rather than conversation tool. Broadcasting did away with the conversation. It replaced the conversation with buzz words like ROI (return on investment) and other buzz terms.

From a conversational medium where everyone talked directly to everyone else these “experts” hijacked the conversation and encouraged the use of the hashtag. The hashtag took person to person communication, encapsulated it in a hashtag and neutralised the individual to individual communication channels. Individual to individual communications are what makes all social networks addictive. If I believe that someone wants to listen to me, to talk, to exchange ideas then I am likely to make time for them, to read what they have to say, to create a personal connection. That personal connection had me travel to Paris, London, Geneva, Lausanne, Lille and other destinations.

Imagine that twitter was still a conversational medium. Imagine that we established personal connections with the event organisers. Imagine that instead of a hashtag we were talking with the twitter account of event organisers. Imagine for a moment that twitter was seen as networking, that socialising on this network was not seen as a waste of time. Imagine that it was seen as a wise investment of time.

I was at two international events last month in Geneva and I had my laptop and a data connection (or two if we count event wifi). I could have listened and live tweeted the events and I could have engaged people socially. I could have engaged with the panel and the speakers.

They want me to use a hashtag. I refuse to use hashtags because a hashtag is not a conversation. A hashtag is metadata. Metadata should be used to help with threading but should not be the conversation. The conversation, comments and thoughts should go directly to the organisation. The impact of a conversation is far stronger than a hashtag.

A hashtag is solitary, is lonely, is disjointed, fails to engage. We see it’s weakness every time an event takes place. I was at one event where I saw that the hashtag only appeared in tweets by the event organiser. The only other place it appeared was in retweets. If you work as a social media marketer you need to engage with people. You need to get people to reply to your tweets, not tweet a hashtag. Event twitter accounts should serve as a conversation hub. They should trigger groups of people at the event and following the event remotely to converse, to share what they think, what they do, who they need to help them.

There are two strengths to twitter that very few people use. These are the ability to connect with like minded people before an event, so that by the time you meet them in person you can proceed with a collaboration rather than small talk and secondly to connect with other people after an event, to establish more personal connections.

Remember that twitter is a 140 character medium. Twitter is great for short conversations and quick updates. It lacks in substance when it comes to sharing content. Facebook, Google Plus are better when what you have to share takes more than 140 characters. Facebook and Google Plus allow you to build connected communities in a way that is impossible on twitter. Both Facebook and Google Plus have threading, have topic separation and more. They are modern web forums. Twitter is a chat room. Use the web forums to have threaded conversations around specific events and panels and use twitter to establish personal connections with event attendees and others.

Yesterday Twitter decided to allow people to follow 5000 twitter accounts. “While it’s entirely possible to see a lot of activity when you’re following 2,000 accounts, the 5,000-user limit increases the chances that you’ll see something interesting.” Social network stickiness relies on familiarity and a personal connection. If you follow 5000 accounts there is an excellent chance that you will fail to personally engage with any of these accounts. As a result twitter will be the place you visit because of hype rather than personal interest.

Twitter is a conversation medium that has identified itself as a broadcast medium which is why there are so many spammers present today. It has encouraged people to have millions of followers, it has encouraged people to follow other people whom there is no chance of personal engagement. They have encouraged their user base to listen rather than interact. Look at the million follower accounts and how they idealise this, rather than the more manageable 300 person limit.

Three or four years ago there was some discussion on the number of people that individuals could know well and that number was low. They said that we could get to know about three hundred people well. This means that if we’re on twitter we should not follow more than three hundred people. We should follow those whom engage with us. We should make time available to those who make time available for us. We should make sure that we have personal connections with as high a percentage of those we engage with in social media as possible.

When twitter was still a social network and twitter celebrities were still normal people we could converse with iJustine, Sarah Austin, Chris Brogan and many others. With Seesmic we could connect with Scoble and Le Meur. In the early days we could create warmer connections because there were fewer of us and attention was not as costly as it is today. Essena O’Neill is one of the people who came to social media too late. She managed to have more than half a million followers which is fantastic for the ego. Half a million followers would make most people happy.

She also set up a website to fight against what she described as the cult of social media. She deleted 2,000 photos on Instagram that, she said, “served no real purpose other than self-promotion”, and scrapped her other social accounts.

Marketers misled people. Shareholders got Social media companies to focus on the wrong thing. Social Media is a social medium. Social media is a method by which for people to communicate with other people with similar passions. Social media is about conversations between individuals. The social media landscape should be about you and I becoming friends. It should be about writing blog posts, sharing images of adventures and more. Social media should complement our physical social life. By Physical social life I only mean the social life with people whose hands we can shake, with people we can hug and with people we can have adventures with.

The idea that each of us should create a mass following is wrong and it is destructive. It is wrong because most of us are not that interesting and we do not travel so much as to find thousands of like minded people. We should focus on a small tight network of people. I found that small tight network through Glocals. For about two years I was part of the Glocals Geneva Scuba diving community and for three years I have been part of the Glocals Activ’events group.

In London social networks got me to participate in tweetups, barcamps, tuttle meetups and more. Each of these events saw me meet with and perpetuate social media friendships that were friendships in the physical world. Some of these friendships are now eight years old. These friendships also saw me at LeWeb and seesmeetups. These friendships are not fleeting. Some of them are over a decade old, from before “Social Media” days.

This shows that if you are honest, if you are open and if you are genuine in your use of social media you can establish friendships. The conversations are an exchange of ideas, loves, passions and concerns. Twitter calls them “followers” but I call them friends. I often speak of “twitter friends” because some platforms are great for news, others are great for sharing images and yet more are good for conversations or debates.

I came back to blogging because I grew tired of the hyposphere. A few weeks ago I started to call Facebook, twitter and mainstream media the Emotional Media. Hard news and information were far harder to find. Conversations and personal connections have also become a distant memory. Social Media has been hijacked by commercial interests to make money for people whom are not aware of the damage they are doing to social networks. I see social networks as a fantastic place for introverts to socialise. I see social networks as a very nice way for introverts to be extroverted, to meet new people, and to create relationships, rather than to sit in the background. Marketers hijacked that space. Essena grew up at the height of the Emotional Media. She was indoctrinated to believe that follower counts, likes, favourites and non conversational measures of success were important. She was never told that social media should be about personal connections, about individuals.

As a person who has been online almost every day since 1996 I grew up with the world wide web and so I have seen it’s progress over the years. I formed my character at the same time as the world wide web and then social media formed their own. Let’s Be Game Changers is interesting because  Essena is part of the generation who was born after the World Wide Web. She came to this space when marketers were distorting children and teenage values. They put importance on the wrong things. Let’s Be Game Changers is a way of opposing the values system instilled by Social media experts and Social media managers. Social media should be about solitary or lonely individuals having personal conversations with their peers. Social media should be a way of getting to know new people. Social media should be about conversations, passions and activities.

Years ago I spoke and thought about the Social Media Living Room. I even bought the domain. The idea of the social media living room is one where we come to a virtual space, an online space and we converse. We share images, videos, thoughts and aspirations with other people. Those virtual interactions become so frequent and so warm that eventually we want to meet in person and when we do a friendship emerges. During the social media Golden Age everyone I met was via Twitter and quite a few more were via Seesmic. During this age geography and nationality did not exist. We were likeminded people meeting internationally. Companies and organisations need to re-create that personal connection so that what I called Emotional Media can once again become Social Media. I want to have conversations. I want to meet new people and work on interesting projects.