No(n)sense Of Purpose

As Social Media Managers we are a community inside the in of the social media community and we may feel so much hate for the average social user who may be praying for Houston or fighting the good fight from behind their keyboard or smart phone. Everyday is a battle against the keyboard warriors, specially if your brand is involved or dragged into it. We have our reasons for feeling distain for the everyday social media user, but the big question is why do we have this feeling of anger and sadness?

So why does the average tom, dick and sally feel the need to jump on the band wagon and spread the “I’m so sorry’s” and the “let’s ruin him/her” all over social media. Well, the answer is not so simple and involves the human need for peer acceptance. Even more now with social media than 20 years ago. It comes down to our loss of feeling a purpose in life.

Let’s break it down for a second and look at a few points:

  1. The why?

It’s that feeling of adrenalin and need to put your two cents in when you open up Facebook and boom there it is, Timmy is stuck in a well in Kansas and all the emergency services and their nanas are there to save him. But oh no you’re countries away, what can you do? The fear sets in and you start sweating as the comment thread gets longer and longer OH NO it’s now at 450 comments, and your friends have already commented what to do! You can’t attend the next braai they’re going to judge you, and whisper “did you see Lucy she didn’t comment she obviously doesn’t how can we allow a person like this around our children… MORALS PEOPLE MORALS!” You act quickly find a meme with roses and say #prayfortimmy. A sigh of relief comes over you and now you can continue watching those cat videos.

  1. The what?

This is not a buzzword or even meant to be, this phrase is a complete contradiction, just like the behaviour it describes – We call it “Social Purpose”.

The need to be a keyboard warrior, to add your prayer for whatever is trending at the time or to find the perpetrator who wronged some complete and utter stranger in a video you will probably never meet. To tell Justin Bieber he is a disgrace for smoking pot and how you’ll cut yourself if he doesn’t stop because that’s going change the world. It’s the new “let’s fight for world peace”, now all you need to do is drop a comment instead of cash or time and keep snacking on your artisanal yoghurt. All the while looking like a rock star do-gooder to your friends and family because you prayed for Houston.

  1. The Aftermath

With the growth of social networks has comes the growth of public opinions and the

need to push their agendas, because now you don’t need to be richie-rich and throw a banquet in honour of those poor starving African kids. You can add your 2-cents worth opinion and go back to your artisanal sandwich. There is no innocence here, we are all guilty along the food chain, from marketers to everyday social media users.

But the question looms; How is this impacting the world? How is this changing the way we see our peers? And how we interact? Social purpose has caused this revolving door effect for everyone. On social media you’re a warrior and in real life, you shudder at the idea of giving even R1 to the lady struggling to feed her baby and mutter from behind your steering wheel… “Get a job”. You see a girl getting robbed at gunpoint on the street fighting for her life, but you think I’ll rather not get involved and just drive around.

In essence, this new need for validation through social purpose and those 15 seconds for do-gooderness has caused a knock-on effect and everyone wants in. It’s the new club, but as social media managers how do we get involved or protect our brands from getting slatted and dragged into a situation we have no part in. Where does social media crisis control start and when does it need to be left to just play itself out?

For the rest, do something real. Your prayers aren’t being loaded off in bulk, make a tangible change in your community or join a charity, and give that lady that R1.

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