I was recently posed the question;Â Are Social Technologies Taking over our lives and what are the new rules of etiquette?
As they say in Thailand; Same! Same! but different.
I don’t think it’s taking over our lives as such they have just evolved into different technologies that help us communicate faster and further than before. Communication is an inherent human need and anything that facilitates that in a cheap and easy manner will be used in bulk as the word of mouth spreads.
But talking/texting/emailing/posting or any other form of communicating doesn’t take over our lives in the sense that it becomes all that we do. We’ve always done it. Since the time we drew on cave walls – we just do it differently now than we did in the past.
Evolution will by definition be the same
I liken what we now call ‘social technology’ to that of the fixed line telephone and the fax (which were then just called telephones and faxes). Instead of having to travel to the other side of the globe to meet for business or write a letter that may take weeks to arrive you could communicate instantly.
- Print replaced the wall drawings and art.
- Email has replaced the fax.
- Mobile phones are replacing fixed lines (I haven’t had a fixed line in my home since 2002)
- Facebook is now changing how we email – when was the last time you organized a birthday party? did you email your friends or use a Facebook list of friends? I couldn’t tell you my best mates’ email address but can and frequently do use Facebook to communicate with him.
- Insert thousands of examples here…
So what we’re really seeing is the evolution of human communication enhanced by technology.
The etiquette is the same
If I call you names you will consider me as rude regardless of the medium. If you’re teleconferencing or videoconferencing then the rules are pretty much the same as if you see people face to face. If you’re broadcasting (YouTube) then the rules in the terms of how you speak are the same as when you did it via TV or the radio.
The only times I’ve seen a need to be careful is with the tone of your written word. I have blogged, emailed and written books on my subject and had some pretty heated arguments because in written form what may be an innocent oversight on your part could be taken as an insult by someone else.
My rule is simple. If you wouldn’t say it to the persons face then don’t be a keyboard warrior.
Social technologies can spread ideas, but that is different!
Of course if you’re trying to do something like spread an idea then the rules are different but aren’t the rules of spreading ideas different no matter what technology you use?
This is of course the part that all marketers are trying to tap into but the rules of etiquette remain the same.
Traditionally we have spread ideas by word of mouth. You use articles in newspapers, publish books or speak at events. You might have tried spreading an idea through a TV show or documentary. Ideas are not advertisements in the general sense, they require more explanation. In his book “unleashing the ideavirus” Seth Godin suggests that marketers don’t utilize permission marketing (aka pull marketing) and discusses how they still (in his words) “continue to throw huge sums of money at old-fashioned interruption marketing”.
It is an obvious point to make that we can use social technologies to spread good ideas and attract people to us rather than try to force adverts at them. This I suppose is what the original question was alluding to but I am answering the question as it was posed to me.
Seth’s book was one of the only ways back in 2001 you could effectively spread an idea. He now gives his books away for free as PDFs and reaches far more people, thus spreading his idea much further. Indeed very recently Seth announced that he will no longer publish books in the traditional way.
This may be the way marketers have to embrace spreading their ideas in the future but again it’s an evolution of communication technology, not an evolution of etiquette.
So it is the same rules as before. But different.
Am I missing something? Opinions as usual welcome.